It's a feel-good Internet story: Man tracks down Internet troll who made his life a living hell, gets him to beg for forgiveness.
But this one's a little different.
Ireland-based political consultant and blogger Leo Traynor was basically forced off Twitter by a vicious troll who used dummy accounts to bombard him with anti-Semitic threats and other terrible invectives.
The harassment eventually extended far beyond Twitter as the troll chased Traynor around the net. His Facebook account was hacked, his email inbox was flooded with "images of corpses and concentration camps," and even his wife was beginning to receive abusive tweets calling her a "whore."
This went on for nearly three years until, one day, Traynor received a real-life package from his tormentor. "I ripped it open and there was a tupperware lunchbox inside full of ashes," Traynor says. "There was a note included 'Say hello to your relatives from Auschwitz.' I was physically sick."
The troll knew where he lived, and wanted Traynor to know it.
Two days later, he received another package — this time dead flowers addressed to his wife — and a direct message: "You'll get home some day & ur b**ches throat will be cut & ur son will be gone." That was the final straw.
With the help of "an IT genius" friend, Traynor was able to pinpoint the location of his troll using his IP address. And that's when things took an interesting turn.
Traynor knew where the troll was because the address he traced him back to was the house of a friend. "The Troll was his son," Traynor writes. "His 17yr old son."
After speaking with his friend and rejected police involvement, Traynor decided to arrange a meeting with the troll and his parents "in a quiet and discreet location."
There he revealed what he knew, producing screengrabs and other evidence of the kid's digital assault. Traynor recounted the horror that has been his waking life — the anxiety, the panic, the paranoia.
"Then it happened," he recalls. "The Troll burst into tears."
Traynor asked him why he did it, but the troll didn't have an answer. "It was like a game thing," was all he could think to respond in between apologies. The parents again pressed Traynor to involve the authorities, but he, again, refused.
Instead, he turned to the teen and said:
Look at me. I'm a middle aged man with a limp and a wheeze and a son and a wife that I love. I'm not just a little avatar of an eye. You're better than this. You have a name of your own. Be proud of it. Don't hide it again and I won't ruin it if you play ball with your parents. Now shake hands.
The troll thanked him for "giving me a break dude," and they did indeed shake on it.
Back on Twitter, Traynor said his bad experience shouldn't turn users off Twitter. "Take a look at all the lovely people who've supported me today," he tweeted.
Echoing Anne Frank, he added: "People are basically good."