Packed train. 5pm. Commuter rush hour.

My cheek is mashed into the arm of an older white man in his late 50’s as he focuses on his phone. Eyes down, music blaring into his ears, he disconnects from his surroundings and lets his fingers move across the screen.

The unspoken rule of commuting is in play – anything on a phone during rush hour is fair game. When your head is in a literal human vice and the only place to rest your gaze is on the beaming rectangle of light before you, privacy doesn’t exist. Everyone knows, anything you do on this phone in the next 30 minutes can and will be seen by the world. (Perhaps this Baby Boomer missed the memo)

He’s on Facebook. A common pastime. He opens an article about gun control and scrolls to the comments. He begins typing. Slowly, slowly, he types.
‘Control? Are you f***ing blind? You moron.’ He addresses his comments to some poor soul suggesting background checks on gun purchases. ‘We can’t control everything. You, are scum.’

I watch in disbelief as he hits ‘send’ without a whisker of hesitation. He continues to type. He’s slow. So. Slow. But incredibly determined, oblivious to the 30 other people in the train carriage, and the fact that Facebook doesn’t hide your identity. (I get the feeling this guy isn’t using an alias.)

I look away, but always look back. The situation is akin to watching someone smearing faeces on a wall, or perhaps watching Donald Trump open his mouth any given time of the day. Its horrifying, putrid, disgusting. And yet I can’t look away.

A troll. A real internet troll. Live and in the flesh.

‘Obama is no lame duck, but he’s always a lame dick’, he painstakingly types in response to comments on the State of the Union address. Oh, Mr Troll is happy with that one. He smirks, self-satisfied with his own witty genius. He continues to work his way through his newsfeed, sprinkling hate like grenades on a battlefield. He comments on the Sean Penn debacle, adds his appalling 2 cents on Bowie’s death, shoots from his misogynistic hip at the female winners of the Golden Globes.
He wreaks digital havoc with the calm demeanor of someone ‘liking’ a video of a purring kitten. His nonchalance is astounding; no shame, no connection, no feeling, both to his digital world and the physical.
He clicks back to his gun control article, deliberately scrolling thorough the comments to find the individual he earlier battled. He’s bored with public arguments, now he’s going for gold. He zeros in and opens the profile page, beginning a personal, hand-crafted message.

‘You are the world’s biggest f***ing idiot if you believe gun control will help this country…’

Now I really do look away.