Ex-Troll Ministry To Launch Next Month

MOCKINGBIRD VALLEY, KY—Exodus Internet, a new ministry whose mission is to help internet trolls recover from addiction to abusive online behavior, will be launching next month in participating churches across the country.

Executive Director Michael Smithfield explained in an announcement Wednesday, “We think of internet trolls as people ‘out there.’ But they are, in fact, all around us—in our workplaces, in our churches, and in our basements at home, living secret lives of addiction to the ‘high’ of harassing strangers online. Many trolls want desperately to break free. But they often feel too ashamed to seek the help they need. Exodus Internet is here to support those who don’t want to be trolls.”

Because trolling has been normalized throughout our culture, Smithfield explained, the signs of being an internet troll might can be difficult to spot. According to Exodus Internet, you should consider seeking help if you exhibit two or more of the following symptoms:

  • You feel better about yourself after criticizing others online
  • You spend a significant amount of time lurking around social media feeds of people you despise
  • You self-identify as a “discerner” or “apologist” but struggle to name anyone else who thinks of you in those terms
  • Your loved ones think you are checking your work email or doing something otherwise productive while you’re actually harassing people online
  • You have been blocked by more than three people on social media
  • You ask friends to send you screen shots from accounts that have blocked you
  • You quote people out of context in order to distort their views
  • You don’t believe there is such a thing as context
  • This list is the first time you’ve heard the notion of ‘context’

Ex-troll Anthony James Black, who participated in the ministry’s pilot last year, attests to the program’s effectiveness. “Exodus Internet has helped me learn to make better choices that have not only changed my internet behavior, but my life, by teaching me that my primary identity is in Christ, not in being a troll. Now I no longer have to hate people just because I disagree with them. It’s an amazing feeling of freedom.”

Experts are still divided on the cause of trolling behavior. Statistically-significant research exists linking trolling behavior to low self-esteem and overbearing mothers. A recent meta-analysis in Scientific North American, however, found correlations between low-quality father-son relationships and trolling behavior in males. Additionally, researchers at State College of California report ongoing progress in their decades-long work in isolating the contentious, so-called “trolling gene.”

“Don’t believe what society tells you—being a troll is a choice,” Black posits. “If you’re a troll like I used to be, I want you to know there’s help out there. Exodus Internet can help you like it helped me.”