Aged 14, you’d never have guessed that I was an Internet troll. I was insecure and determined to show how individual I was by only listening to bands that wouldn’t never make the Radio One playlist and wearing t-shirts that demonstrated quite how misunderstood I was.
I hated anything that was 'mainstream' – the colour pink, the fashion industry, pop music, foam parties. Instead, I wallowed in my misery and the belief that "other people just didn't understand me." I know. Insufferable, right?
I didn’t even know what a troll was in 2002. Hell, even the Internet was new to me. I’d never laid my eyes on a meme, people weren’t naming their babies ‘Hashtag’ FFS, and cats weren’t that big a deal.
My parents had signed up to AOL, back when you had to use a free CD nicked from Sainsbury’s to sign up to anything, and I got my very first email address. I can’t remember what it was, but at a guess it was probably something to do with death and roses and had 69 in it.
I had my own account login too, so I customised everything and entered the dicey world of chat rooms to whinge about my perfectly normal life.
And then I turned into a troll.
It was Avril Lavigne’s fault, really. Yep – she who stormed onto the radio with her terrible attempt at pop-punk and started turning Claire’s Accessories into a tartan and safety pin black hole. She started it.
I just found her really annoying. I’d had enough of Sk8er Boi (by the way, it still hurts to type that much stupidity in one song title) and her appearance in my beloved Kerrang! magazine.
And unlike Lavigne, I was a PRO punk! I wore tartan skirts over ripped black jeans and made a necklace from safety pins… I know, I know, I hear myself now and it’s embarrassing.
If I was going to look like shit, I had to have a shit attitude too, so I took to my newly-discovered internet and joined an Avril Lavigne Fan group, with the sole intention of pissing off its members.
My first post simply said 'Avril is crap,' before I sat back to wait for the flurry of angered responses. I'm pretty certain that one person LOLd and another told me to 'get lost', so I carried on.
'She's a bitch + she can't even SING.' Ha!
I could've chosen to do my homework or help my parents out with some housework that night. Instead I decided to waste my evening typing messages including:
'Y do u even like Avril? She's shit + her songs r fuckin stupid'
'I hope her album BOMBS cos she deserves it, she's a tool'
I know, I'm so hilarious. And I really thought that I was - people were reading my childish messages and instantly replying, and I didn't even have to reveal who I was. Sat behind the safety of my screen, I could let out some of my latent anger by posting profanities to a bunch of twelve-year-olds.
The group retaliated by telling me I was wrong and suggesting that maybe I needed to find another group to join. Damn them and their polite, reasoned responses - I wanted them to take the bait so I could tell them they needed to get a LIFE and start listening to real music.
Like a big troll, I ran through the Enchanted Forest of Avril Lavigne fans, waving my club and chanting my stupid opinions about her music, and finally arriving at the Magic Castle of Fuck You at the other end. Having reached my destination, I logged off, pretty pleased with myself. For some reason I didn't realise that I was being an utter dick.
The bubble burst pretty quickly. Returning home from school the next day with my Sid Vicious badges and Nirvana logo scrawled on my backpack with Tippex, I found my mum at the computer - red faced with furious eyes. 'Do you want to tell me about this chat thing?'
Umm…chat? What chat thi…oh, god.
'AOL sent me an email today saying you're banned from a chat room…'
This isn't happening.
'You're in serious trouble young lady, we do NOT use language like that in this house!' I was mortified. AOL had barred my username from the group and emailed my mum a full transcript of my troll stampede. She read it all, and was just as embarrassed as I was by the language and sheer pointlessness of it.
Suddenly I was faced with the confrontation that I was so scared of in real situations, but found so easy online.
My punishment was being grounded and having my CD player taken off me for a while, which is unfortunately not an adequate punishment for today's masters of flaming. I wasn't a troll anymore, just a foolish tween who had a go at being a bit cocky and seriously misjudged the whole thing.
It's both hilarious and embarrassing to look back on it. Funny because it was so useless, and embarrassing because I was really that bothered by some pseudo Punk Canadian singer. Bothered enough to go a bit mental on the Internet.
Fortunately I've moved on since then. These days my anger is directed more towards politics, feminism, and the injustice of Advent calendars only having 24 windows. Now that shit is something worth getting angry about.
Charlotte is tweeting about all of the above @charleymarley