At the end of January This American Life, my favorite NPR program, produced a show
that I think everyone allowed on the Internet should have to listen to.
I found this particular episode through a piece Lindy West, the woman running the first segment, wrote for the Guardian
. West is a feminist, body positive writer who gets a lot of hate for doing just that. One day, amongst the piles of harassment, she found an a tweet purportedly from her dead father.
The name on the account was “PawWestDonezo”, because my father’s name was Paul West, and a difficult battle with prostate cancer had rendered him “donezo” (goofy slang for “done”) just 18 months earlier. “Embarrassed father of an idiot,” the bio read. “Other two kids are fine, though.” His location was “Dirt hole in Seattle”
West blogged about the horror of seeing her dead father's face attached to the account with one of her trolls, and the guy behind the account got back to her, apologizing for acting like a terrible human. In the This American Life episode, they talk on the phone for the first time.
For the most part, our commenters here on the Range keep it in line—I recently spent an afternoon clearing out years of reported comments. Ya'll aren't so bad. But I think it's a good thing to remember, no matter where you're off commenting. The Internet can give you anonymity, but it's still okay to behave like it doesn't.