I'm not leaving the column.
I won't lie and say that what happened with that troll didn't hurt. I was emotionally manipulated in an incredibly deceitful way by a person who regards himself as "clever" because he fooled me. So be it. Call me gullible. Call me stupid for trying to reply to a plea for help.
All my replies to his fake letters were made sincerely. They took me hours to write. In the meantime, other real people with real problems had to wait. So, his trolling also affected them.
It disturbs me greatly that this person regarded me as a subject for his "experiment." Humans are not lab rats. It is that attitude that led to things like experiments on Jews in concentration camps, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment in which black men were deliberately injected with a disease by the American government, or, more recently, Zuckerberg's little manipulation in which Facebook readers were deliberately fed negative news in order to see if it would depress them and affect their posts. I'm not saying what happened to me matches this scale, but the fundamental concept is the same: people are just things to be toyed with to the minds of trolls.
Dear readers, know this: what you see on this page is me. I have revealed to all of you my heart, my beliefs, my failings in order to gain your trust so that when I tell you something it will be believed as a sincere effort to try and help you. Now, sometimes I may be wrong. Sometimes I might even say something dumb, but at least it's done with honesty. Also, you do not have to listen to my advice. As you know, I don't charge for it. And I will never ever try to make you look foolish (er, maybe with the exception of this troll--how about this: I won't make you look foolish if you are honest with me).
Everything I've written here has been written for love of the furry community. I'm very sorry that I let this troll get to me. He really did hurt me deeply, and I will acknowledge that here so he can have his laugh at my expense. You know what? I'm only human. So is this troll guy, whoever he really is. And, as a human being and a furry, I will confess an ugliness in my heart. I frankly don't care who he is anymore, and, no, I don't wish him well. There is no good excuse for what he did. None.
If I could magically curse him, my curse would be this: that no one believes anything that comes out of his mouth for the rest of his life. (Good Lord! I just created another politician! Shame on me!)
Most people I meet in life are good people. For those good people, this column will continue.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.