My Experience With Online Trolling

David B Morris
9 min readJun 16, 2024


And How It Really Does Say More About Them Than You.

This has nothing to do with anything on Twitter, for the record.

Like anyone who writes online, I am not only very aware of the vast array of online screeds written by all too many people on — well, basically anything that you have an opinion on these days. I have come to expect them as the nature of the beast, something that no matter how much we try, we can do nothing to change or stop.

I have perhaps greater empathy for them than the lion’s share of those of us who write columns. Maybe it’s because I’ve been relatively fortunate in that my writing doesn’t inspire enough hatred from my readers (though it has brought some). Perhaps it is because some of my own recent experience with an individual who spent the better part of two years harassing me in my home to the point of violence that the adage of ‘words will never hurt me’ does mean more than a cliché. And perhaps its because I do believe — even though so many of my own critics don’t in that saying of Voltaire: “I disagree completely with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Free speech has to apply to everybody or it isn’t free speech. People have a right to express their opinions and you are not obligated to like them. I draw a line at harassing their right to say those things, which is a line so many people seem not willing to do so.

I’ve been meaning to write a series on my blog about my own experiences with so many of these people in an attempt to try and figure out what makes them tick. Events that have transpired in the past twenty-four hours have led me to finally begin the series in earnest. However, I have no intention of naming names or even hinting at screen names. I didn’t do so for the person who spent two years making my life a personal hell, and I’m not going to do so in the case of complete strangers. That would be giving them too much oxygen and I honestly think that is a large part of the problem today: far too many of us — and I’ve been as guilty of it as anybody else at times — don’t have the capacity to let these things go even when we should know better. So for all of these articles I’m just going to refer to the person involved as ‘the unnamed individual’. This is a term used in testimony before many commission or trials and I think it fits.

If you have read my columns for a long enough time, you are aware that much of my writing has to do with my love of Jeopardy. I’ve been a devoted fan for more than thirty years, I love every element of the game-play and I have been one of its strongest defenders against so many of the criticisms that it has taken over the last few years.

Now in 2023 there was a contestant who had a brief run on Jeopardy. The unnamed individual subsequently went online and publicly trashed the show that they had just been on, demeaning both Ken Jennings, the nature of it as part of the landscape and writing various vituperative commentary. This led to a considerable amount of backlash against the individual online from fans and former champions. At a certain point in 2023, I wrote an article reporting some of these criticism and how I felt about them.

(If you’re a fan of the show or my writing, the induvial in question is obvious to all of you but I don’t want to comment on it, either in the comments or at any point. As I said, I refuse to give this person headspace and you shouldn’t either.)

Now this individual was invited back to the Tournament of Champions this past February and did, shall we say, very well. This individual was given multiple chances by Ken Jennings to address the controversy or apologize. As far as I’m aware, they have not done either nor do they intend to. I wrote several columns covering the Tournament and I made no secret that I was rooting against this individual. That is as close to showing contempt for them as I did; this person had offended something I cared about very deeply and had not seen fit to apologize. Nevertheless, as this person continued to do very well, I reluctantly became impressed by their play and said they had earned my respect. I also thought that the viewer should be willing to do the same.

The last month I had laid all of this bed in my mind. But apparently this individual had not. Earlier today, I received an email from this individual. I will offer some excerpts but the fact his salutation was: “Dear Idiot B. Morris” really should tell you every you need to know about that person’s tone.

That individual followed that by saying my ‘meds have apparently been re-balanced’, referred to me as coward and reciting hateful fantasies’, accused me of making defamatory and negative statements and more or less demanded I ‘remove all the blatant lies I told about them”

I was shocked and scared…for two seconds. Here were my subsequent reactions:

1. Oh my God. I’ve arrived as a critic. Its well known that you’re not part of the business until one of your subjects writes hate mail directed to you personally.

2. I’m flattered. I wrote this column more than a year and a half ago. This person has spent all this time and energy going through my columns to find this one.

3. Most importantly…wow. I have maybe 450 readers. Maybe three or four thousand people read my columns a week. This individual is famous and has a much wider reach than I can ever dream of. The elephant is going to this much trouble to crush an ant like myself?

I spent a lot of this afternoon trying to figure out the third point in particular. Then earlier today I had a conversation with my parents about it. My mother, who is not a Jeopardy fan, asked a question that I’ve been pondering myself.

This person made it very clear that they held the show in contempt after the original run. Given the context of the email they sent me, it’s clear the vast success they have enjoyed in the last few months has done nothing to ameliorate the visceral loathing they hold for Jeopardy. So the question is simple: why’d they bother to return to the Tournament of Champions in the first place?

It’s actually a valid question. While it doesn’t happen that often, there have been cases where former champions decline the opportunity to appear in the Tournament of Champions. Usually its because of personal conflicts and they come back in following years, but attendance isn’t mandatory and every tournament has an alternate in case they are unable to attend. And given how public this individual was for his contempt for Jeopardy, it’s not like that there were a lot of people who wanted the unnamed individual to return. (They were, in fact, unhappy when that person did show up on the show and did so well.)

There’s an argument that had the individual chosen to refuse the invitation; he would have been standing up for their principles. Considering the show’s troubles during Season 40, much of which I’ve related in countless articles, they would have regained the moral high ground.

So why did this person return? Well, in part because of the obvious financial benefits for doing so: $250,000 is too much to pass up. I also want to give them the benefit of the doubt and say part of them does enjoy the experience. They may have changed their mind about the show and its clear some of the competitors do not bear him some of the hostility of the fans do. That was clear on the Tournament of Champions.

But I think part of it is based in the same reason I received what was more or less a rant and a scree from them nearly a year and a half after I wrote my article. And I think it also gets to the core of so much of the online trolling that sadly dominates our society.

There are, sadly, a sizable percentage of us whose skin is so thin that any criticism of their points of view, whether it is directed at them or not, is considered a personal attack. I don’t need to remind anyone that this is part and parcel of our political discourse for the last decade but its present in almost everything else are lives: the culture wars are built on it; everybody has a side, there’s an us or them mentality about everything and its almost become background noise, which is sad in itself.

This has become clear in Jeopardy over the last few years. I’ve mostly ignored it in my writings because I do care about the game play and the champions, and everything else to me is background noise. There have been as many people who hate the show as anyone else — and I have to say that makes me wonder why if this individual felt this way, they tried out for the show in the first place. I still don’t have an answer to that question.

As I said I try to have a certain sympathy and empathy for everyone, even people I disagree with. At a certain point over the years, there have been times that the illogic and mindless behind some of the rants I’ve seen posted to my articles or comments over the years (not the one that triggered this, I should be clear) have led to me engage when the smarter thing would have been to just walk away. I’ve learned from my mistakes over the years and now ninety to ninety-five percent of the time, I do either walk away or block the individual. I have tried on multiple occasions to reason with some of them (and I’ll be writing about those attempts in later articles) but what one keeps coming up against is the Internet equivalent of a stone wall.

As for the note I was sent by this individual, I’ve printed it out and I’m going to frame it and post it on my wall. In all seriousness, this is a sign of my arrival on the public consciousness so thank you for that. But that is all the headspace I intend to give this individual. If they find this article, read it and choose to resume their attacks, go right ahead. I will simply ignore them. I’ve dealt with far worse threats to my own well-being in my apartment building the last two years; this is water off a duck’s back.

As for my readers, I have little doubt you will be able to identify who the unnamed individual is. Perhaps some of you might decide to troll them in return. I can’t stress how much I oppose this and I will publicly denounce anyone who makes an effort to defend me in this fashion. Don’t do anything; don’t even mention their name in the comments section if you know who they are. I don’t care one whit about what this person wants to say about me; as I said, I’m flattered he thinks so highly of me to personally insult me. This person doesn’t deserve a moment of your time.

Which leads to the fourth thing I felt after reading this email: I do feel sorry for this person. I’m serious. What does it say about this person’s psyche that after all the success they’ve enjoyed over the past several months in the public spotlight that they now feel that they have to go over someone who wrote something vaguely unpleasant about them nearly a year and a half ago? Something I guarantee you my readers will now be going through my backlog to find out what I wrote and just how unpleasant it was to cause this individual such angst. Its says far more about that person’s state of mind than anything anyone could ever write that they feel they have to respond to this.

Which is why after this article I consider this matter closed. I’ll write about other problems I’ve had with other people who’ve commented things about me but I’m not doing so to settle old scores but rather to address the problems I see from them. I know the individuals I mention — including this one — will not see it that way and there’s a good chance some of my readers won’t either. But that’s how I genuinely do see this, and it’s how I’m going to deal with it going forward.



David B Morris

After years of laboring for love in my blog on TV, I have decided to expand my horizons by blogging about my great love to a new and hopefully wider field.