An obese man gets challenged by people he trolled online

28-year-old Jesse Shand wasn’t like most other people his age. No career-building, no girlfriend, no social hobbies. He lived as a recluse in his mother’s house. And at nearly 700 lbs, he was morbidly obese.  

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He didn’t dare to go out anymore. His weight had destroyed his self-confidence and staying at home allowed him to get ever heavier. It was a vicious circle. So he spent a lot of time online. A LOT of time, and more and more, he spent it venting anger. 

One habit he developed was trolling bodybuilders, making fun of, bullying, even trying to intimidate them. He was a pretty classic troll, in fact, drumming up controversy, artificial debates, and harassment. 

You might know trolls if you’ve ever scrolled through the comments section (on any unmediated article or discussion, anywhere online, unfortunately). They’re not there for any constructive reason. Not out of interest or concern. They don’t participate in the online aspect of society, they’re defined mostly by malicious intent.

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One bodybuilder Jesse targeted wondered why this guy was so hateful. He demanded that Jesse show a picture of himself, since he was so ready to criticize others. 

So… Jesse did. 

The bodybuilder made an amazing decision. In one of those beautifully authentic, personal moments in the virtual world, he offered not mockery but help. He challenged Jesse to get fit again. 

A bunch of other people joined the discussion and started encouraging Jesse to go on a diet and exercise. Suddenly, the nastiness — which came from Jesse’s feelings of helplessness and despair — turned into a sincere community. 

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The unexpected support motivated Jesse for the first time. He became determined to radically change his lifestyle. He started attending the gym five times a week and completely changed the way he eats. It worked. Slowly but surely, he lost an incredible amount of weight.

Eventually his body mass had changed so much that he had a huge excess of skin that needed to be removed through surgery.

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The operation would cost almost $20,000.

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Jesse appealed for help in raising the money and step by step, it went from being a dream to being a concrete possibility. 

"I’ve got so much hope for what’s in the future now. I could gain my independence here soon, very soon. I’m just right now overwhelmed with emotion. It feels great, I wouldn’t have believed a couple of years ago, here I am doing something I thought I’d never get to do in my life, and you know I’m starting a new job on Monday," Jesse reported. 

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He also came to understand that his trolling had actually harmed people. He became strong enough himself to be able to face the hurt he’d caused.

"I wasted so many years of my life, looking back to it now, I wasn’t doing anything productive and I was hurting other people and making them feel as bad as I felt."

But today, thanks to a community that chose not to tear him down but to build him up, Jesse was able to forge a new path to happiness. And now he wants to give this happiness back to the whole world.

Check out this video report telling his whole story:

We all need others’ confidence in us sometimes, to build up and keep our own self-confidence. There’s no more powerful support than having people around who believe in us. The topsy-turvy way in which Jesse came by this support is simply amazing. May it happen more often, and even in such unexpected places!

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