What is the opposite of a troll? A fairy, obviously
Published on: 12 September 2013 Author: Laura Dockrill
The author, poet, spoken word performer and all round good egg Laura Dockrill, who's work includes Echoes and My Mum's Growing Down, became our ninth Writer in Residence back in 2013. In this blog Laura discussed being a write in the age of social media, dealing with criticism online, but mainly what to do with the trolls.
I came home the other day and I excitedly dumped my handbag on the floor and sat next to my husband and I said 'I am really happy.' And he said, 'Why? What's happened?' and I said, 'Nothing. I just feel content, and I wanted to tell you, because people always seem to think it's OK to say when they are feeling rubbish but don't always say when they are feeling happy. And actually it's a much nicer thing to hear and say.' And to that Daniel said, 'That's true. Thanks for telling me.' And I said, 'You're welcome.'
The internet, I think, gets a terrible reputation for the over-exposure of things that don't need to be over-exposed or perhaps even exposed to begin with.
Blamed for gossiping and spoon-stirring, for trolling and lying and exploiting and of course the worst - which is not acceptable in any light - cyber bullying. But actually, I have felt the need to big the Internet up a bit. Why? Because it sometimes feels like unless somebody is writing a review, the only time we hear about the tools we use as humans is when we are moaning about them. Take London Underground for example: every day you hear 'it's so expensive', it's so crowded', 'it's so dirty', 'train's delayed,' 'the Metro is Paris is SO much better than this crap.' 'The subway in New York would never allow this!'
YOU DON'T LIVE IN PARIS OR NEW YORK THOUGH DO YOU? YOU UNGRATEFUL SNOB? YOU LIVE HERE. THIS IS YOUR HOME.
But rarely hear a 'how wonderful that I can zip all over London in under an hour. People dug these tunnels.' Yes dug. I don't think I've dug since I was about four. And it was probably some sand. Into a bucket. On a wonderful beach. With my family. Who I love.
Even if it's just for your own wellbeing, just surfacing the positives instead of unpicking the negatives can do spectacular things for your happiness. Whinging is boring, and it's draining for everybody, and unless you are going to personally write a bossy letter or plan a meeting with the constable chief of London Underground, just shut up. Don't even get me started on the weather.
I quite like the internet... there I said it. I realise that this is opening my floodgates to 'trolls' galore but as my Mum taught me, the best method of killing something is with kindness. So that's my defense plan when it happens: those trolls are going to be annihilated by love letters and home-baked Bakewell tart. We can be like Snow White and the Seven Trolls: there's room for everybody.
Here's the thing: the Internet can also be really nice. Too nice. Sickly, beautiful Disney land fairy-tale nice. My kind of nice: this is what I like. It's a lovely place to be.
I like nothing more than reading a bad newsy letter (wait for it...) or an annoying email (wait for it...) or horrible review of my work and nearly wanting to not ever leave my bed ever again (WAIT FOR IT...) then scrolling through twitter to see poet Lemn Sissay wishing the world a 'good morning' just 'cos. An editor I know, who all day long edits the work of others, but now, here, is gently breaking down the components of autumn because she is inspired by the view from a window. A friend showing his followers a stupid picture of himself as a 12-year-old out of boredom: uni-browed, goofy-toothed and before the contact lenses.
Other friends celebrating their successes and achievements, from award nominations, to the passing of driving tests - the birth of a new baby! This is why I quite like (love) the Internet. And sometimes, for no reason, people will tell you they like what you do. People remind you on twitter that they 'love you' followed by a million cartoon hearts, sunflowers and rainbows and it is gorgeous. They don't have to, but they fire mini grenades of praise that they might think go nowhere yet they explode on your lap and in your face like multi-colored champagne (Prosecco) flavoured joy. In the book universe, before this, I was waiting on dreamed up hand-written 'fan mail' that never came. This is why I love the Internet. It reminds me why I spend all those hours writing in solitude.
I watch TV and spot a face I recognise in a film, and it's an old film, one that brings back memories for me of Christmastime, my brother and sister, and tangerines. I don't sit there doing my brain in figuring it out. I search her name on Google and of course, the Internet has the answer. I buy the film from my phone right that second (I don't really...I write it down and buy it from Fopp the next day, obviously, but I could do). I want to know if you can freeze a banana, what gets pink hair dye out overnight so I can attend my Grandma's funeral without looking like I've dyed my hair for the funeral. I want to know if soy sauce and potato go together; I want to know where I can buy unique teas from in bulk; I want to know what the little white allergy spots that have come up are; I want to know how to make perfect egg-fried rice; I want to know what 20% of a weird number is; I want to know how old Ricky Gervais was when he became really famous; I want to know what gets rid of mice safely; I want to know how to clean a burnt pan; I want to know about the living conditions of a lobster - can they survive in and out of water like a crab? Crustaceans and arthropods could be my new area of knowledge if I wished. I want to know the history of a fortune cookie; I want to know why Battenberg cake was called Battenberg cake; I want to know how much green tea is a normal amount to drink - and thanks to the internet, thanks to people who LOVE the internet, people with time on their hands that we often forget ourselves about and LAUGH at like 'some people have got so much time on their hands!'
I am so grateful for those people because those people make my life breezier. It is a modern day Mrs. Beeton's housekeeping guide covering absolutely everything. There are people that will film themselves and show you, step by step, how to do a fish-tail plait on your own hair. People that will talk you through the cleaning of your trainers to make them spanking. People that show you how to repair your own iPhone. On your own. Just because they themselves didn't fancy forking out a couple hundred for a new one and didn't want you to have to either. We are human beings, we can fix stuff but sometimes we feel like we are incapable of touching technology. Been building houses, doing open heart surgery and giving birth to babies for years and years and years but crack open an iPhone and fix it yourself...ARE YOU COCO LOCO?
Just yesterday morning I learnt, from a retweet of a retweet of a retweet... about 19-year-old Boyan Slat. A young inventor that after a quick scribble in a classroom has designed a machine that can clean up the ocean, clear it of its deadly littered plastic. By the afternoon @TheOceanCleanup are following me on Twitter and I am following them back. I never knew birds thought red plastic was food and that is why you never find red plastic washed up on beaches. And it is killing them. My brain is growing: a whole new door has opened. This is why I love the Internet.
I am really old school, despite this blog post. I am crumpled brown paper, hand-written and post officey.
I believe sleep and water cures headaches, but I can't lie. I am grateful for the chance to reach out to nearly anything at the touch of a button.
'I love the internet.' I say out loud. 'Why? What's happened?' Daniel says. 'Nothing. I just think it's nice to say when something is useful too rather than only voicing when it annoys you.' Daniel considers this then nods, 'It's true. If we lost the Internet now we'd be-
Meet our latest Writer in Residence
Every six months, BookTrust appoints a new Writer in Residence to write blogs, run competitions and give us their own unique perspective on the world of children's books. Our current Writer in Residence is Michelle Robinson.