In response to a Cameo video that Supernatural star Mark Pellegrino did, we reached out to Pellegrino with arguably TV’s most famous ‘devil’ (at least for millennials).
Mark who portrays the witty and pragmatic ‘Lucifer’ on the long-running CW series, Supernatural and Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, produced an incredible video and responded to my interview request to speak with him further on his stance against online bullying.
CelebMix: Hi Mark, thank you for agreeing to speak with us today. You’re no stranger to bullying, as you have your community of trolls out there. Can you share with us your observations on the trolling you encounter?
Mark Pellegrino: It’s taken a toll on me for sure. It’s come in two waves of intense, destructive trolling.
The first wave was a group led by about five very sophisticated sociopaths who didn’t like my notions of the way people should interact with each other—so they were anti-liberty, anti-individualism and they attempted to frame all of my individualistic messages as ‘racist’, ‘bigoted’, ‘homophobic’—you know the typical trigger words ‘they’ like to use to try and smear your sans argument. The things they were saying about me were so heinous that I fought them. I saw my reputation being publicly impugned by these people and stood up to them, and what I found was that standing up to them didn’t weaken them. It made them stronger, because there’s sort of a dynamic that happens, where they sense blood in the water, and a swarm occurs. And no matter how powerful your arguments are or how big you think you are, there’s only so many individuals you can take on at any one time, and they used that fact in their favor, to realty try and take you down.”
CM: Wow. So what came of that? How did you respond to that behavior?
MP: I survived that, I think by doing a podcast that addressed all of their accusations. I retweeted some of their accusations with my own actual evidence underneath it.
CM: Can you elaborate more?
MP: I thought that if I tried to take Stephen Covey’s approach—’seek first to understand, then to be understood’ from a rational point of view, because sarcasm and snarkiness, which is my attempt at disarming some of this viciousness, is lost on these people. Not only is it lost because the medium of text loses the substance of information you’re trying to transmit, but because these people are perceptual level human beings.
CM: How would you describe them?
MP: They’re not deeply conceptual, so when you’re actually being sarcastic, they think you’re being serious and don’t know how to relate to it, which becomes more fuel to their fire. And then they’re passing that onto more concrete level people who don’t know how to relate to it, and that becomes the narrative.
Our conversation with Pellegrino then shifted into how social media platforms should be regulated, to which the Supernatural star explained that because these trolls are using the banner of social justice to further their damaging behavior, we need to take a more proactive approach that allows users/victims to act as “internet guardians” of sorts.
And from a literary standpoint, he compared the second wave of trolling he’s experienced to a ‘Lord of the Flies’ atmosphere, where these individuals are “pre-ethical in a sense”:
“They don’t understand ethics or the impact of their behavior on other folks, and they don’t care. They might in 10 or 15 years, but they certainly don’t right now.”
CM: What can social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or TikTok do to help reduce this type of behavior?
MP: I think the algorithms that [these social media platforms] use to define whatever their parameters are for speech, don’t seem to be very good. They seem to be highly biased in one direction. I think that what they need to do if they are a ‘free speech platform’ is to understand that free speech still precludes violence and libel.
CM: So how would you “change the system” so to speak if there was another alternative to these algorithms?
MP: There should be objective criteria for that behavior and a squad of people that are dedicated to just that. Without their political prejudices serving as guidelines—just the guidelines of ‘violence’ and a ‘lie’. Is it force or fraud? That’s the only guideline they should use, and then immediately ‘deplatform’ those people.
CM: We both know that it’s very easy for users to ‘return’ to a platform, not as themselves. What next, if deplatforming doesn’t work?
MP: That’s the third step, which is to remove a user’s anonymity. Since I’m a verified public figure online, everyone knows who I am, and maybe it’s about taking anonymity away from them. So you don’t have a separate bureau of technocrats who are going over every single tweet with a fine-tooth comb, maybe it’s just that everybody’s full information is disclosed or you’re able to obtain that information, should you present a case to people within the organization that these people are actually trying to take you out and hurt you.
“I’ve chosen to be outspoken and I made the deliberate choice to be outspoken because I feel like we are living in a bully culture,” he answered, elaborating “that verbal and physical violence is the way of dealing with opposing ideas now. And I saw this happen 4 and 5 years ago, which is why I said, the more we remain silent, the more powerful these people will become until they dominate the culture. Well, it’s a fact. Most people are either kowtowing to them now or remaining silent, and I still will stand up and fight against these people because they have to be exposed for the Charlotteans they are, otherwise you’re surrendering. And I’m not going to surrender, even if the culture goes down to these people in flames. If I’m the only one out of a hundred who decides to fight it until the end, then so be it. I’ll be the guy that stands for truth, justice, due process, and the things I respect about civilization, instead of giving it over to barbarians inside the gates.”
Have you been victimized by online trolling? Let us know your story a on Twitter using @CelebMix.