Nearly half of all internet users have found themselves targeted by trolls. Online bullies don’t typically know their subjects personally, but they attack them with insults so vitriolic they can’t help but sting.
The London-based illustrator known as Mr. Bingo has been parodying the phenomenon by sending old-fashioned hate mail to willing strangers. Bingo draws bitingly personal barbs and slurs on the backs of scenic post cards, then slips them into the nearest letterbox for the postman to deliver. “This is a comedy art project, not real hate,” he told Hyperallergic.
The humor lies in how Bingo mimics the insanely ridiculous comments and memes people post online within a form more typically reserved for niceties like talking about the weather. Some participants receive postcards embellished with a simple cuss word or two (“Fuck you Jonathan, fuck you and fuck your shit legs”). Others meet with more elaborate insults, like Alex Hudson of Holt, Norfolk. His card features a venn diagram with encircled portraits of Ronald McDonald and Hitler and the intersecting label “you.”
It all started four years on Twitter — of course — when Bingo announced he would send a postcard with a mean message to the first person who responded. He got at least 50 replies, and three days later decided to open the trolling service. So far, 928 people have paid the £50 fee to be insulted. “As far as I know, none [of the postcards] have actually been sent maliciously to anyone to cause real harm,” he said.
Though Bingo has received plenty more requests and business has been lucrative, he doesn’t see trolling as a “sustainable business.” He hopes to eventually put the project to bed and so is raising money on Kickstarter to publish Hate Mail: The Definitive Collection, a retrospective in book form that will showcase 156 of his cruelest postcards. As part of the campaign’s reward structure, he’s offered to viciously troll 10 people who contribute. “I am very much looking forward to it,” he said.