Before Dylan Maron became a writer on “Ted Lasso”, he produced provocative shows about social issues for Seriously.TV, including a web series called “Sitting in the Bathroom with Trans People”, about transgender people in the restroom. People were interviewed.
Not everyone liked his left-leaning video, including one viewer who opined online that Dylan should “kill himself, you victim of complicated havin’ b-h boi.” Other viewers weren’t as creative, but as his videos gained popularity—his TED talk, “Empathy Is Not an endorsement,” has been viewed over 3.5 million times—Maron regularly received comments online, In which they are called “f–t,” “beta men,” or “coke.”
Maron responded by taking action, starting a popular podcast in which he engages in phone chats with online haters who spoil him. Now with a related book — “Conversations with People Who Hate Me: 12 Things I Learned from Talking to Internet Strangers” (Atria Books) — Maron recently zoomed in with the post so it shared Know what it’s like to talk to an internet troll.
The following has been edited for length and clarity.
When did you start getting a lot of negative feedback online?
It was through my work on social-justice videos and “every single word”. [a supercut series wherein Marron edited down popular films into only the words said by people of color, to make a point about a lack of representation on screen] That I was facing hate online, and those negative comments led to my podcast, “Conversations with People Who Hate Me.”
You really started collecting negative feedback in the “hate folder”?
I’m looking at my laptop right now!
And how did you respond to the comments?
Many well wishers say just log off! I think this kind of advice comes from a loving place, but it often overlooks the way people have socialized in recent years. With so much of our lives online, it felt like… Ignoring it was not an option. At first I was just taking screen shots and filing them in the hat folder. I was instinctively taking a screenshot and filing it, taking another screen shot and filing it. can i explain it to you? No, so I’m in treatment now.
You didn’t plan to do anything with them?
No, that was my way of saying I have control of it because I keep it in a bin on my desktop, but then my coping mechanism was sharing screenshots from my “hate folder” and replying to my friends with crappy, typos. Or identifying faulty logic. If hate comments were setup, I got to deliver the punchline. But I realized that what I really wanted to do was talk to some of the people behind the hate comments. I thought it would calm me to talk to people who disagreed with me, expressing their feelings with vitriol. I hoped that talking to him was the way forward, a bridge we could build towards each other.
Your motivation to act came after a message from Josh, whose misspelling and grammatically incorrect remarks led you to blame for the country’s division and ended by saying, “Besides, being gay is a sin.”
I’m not anyone’s therapist, so I don’t know the depth of their psychological history, but Josh was bullied very outright and the connection was very clear. The hurt he suffered from his high school bullies transferred directly to me.
And then Josh started receiving hate messages of his own.
This is something we see all the time now, the victim of online harassment reposts about their harasser, and then people harass the harasser. To me, it’s like no one out there is winning. I understand the idea. When I see a friend getting hurt by someone, I tend to tell that person they suck. But the tide of the Internet can turn so quickly, so it’s not like, no, no, we’re not going to fix things like homophobia if the oppressor starts hating who She is!
In the book you refer to the quote “People hurt people who hurt” implying that it’s mostly broken, unhappy people who get whipped?
Yes, but it’s only sometimes true! Some of the people in my “hate folder” had strong social circles and healthy family bonds. A few years after I was on the show, my guest Frank texted me to tell me he had become a grandfather. We all know it’s not an angel to be a grandfather, but I know for a fact that Frank’s family life is very rich. Their [original] The comment was very mild, just ‘You’re doing something really bad. getting ahead.’ I didn’t understand that Frank was necessarily hurt in the traditional way that Josh was and then transferred it directly to me.
You are always sympathetic to the people who talk to you, even if they start being unkind to you. How?
My guests are doing something incredibly brave. They are coming to talk to a person who has hurt them! It’s one of the most beautiful things to me, owning what he said. There are different levels of success. Sometimes the response is defensive, and sometimes people walk out into the sunset and say, “Wow, I feel fundamentally different, and I’m so sorry.”
In the book you call yourself “the gay man wearing pearl earrings” who was always “chosen last in gym class,” but now you’re writing for a sports show?
I never fully understood the game as a concept, but I support them, I’m an ally [laughs], I have friends who love the game that I get to face, but in the context of “Ted Lasso,” it was kind of organic. Jason Sudeikis has been a kind and wonderful supporter of my podcast. He reached out to me in the summer of 2018, to say he loves and supports what I’m doing. One thing led to another, and he invited me to be part of the “Ted Lasso” writing staff for Season 3.
What did you learn from this experience?
This whole process has taught me that change is gradual over time. Contrary to what social media tells us—that clapping as much as possible (and amusingly) at our opponents is the best way to fight for our cause—true progress comes slowly, in almost imperceptible ways. I think we’re all subject to what I’ve started to call the “makeover illusion,” where we’re subjected to the quick and five-act structure sanity before and after the renewal show that we forget that humans. does not develop in such a short time frame.