Your Grandma, the Troll
I remember getting into fights with militant atheists and evangelists about 10 years ago on blogs back then. It was such an innocent time. When blogs/chat boards would stay contained in themselves. Now trolling can get you a book deal or a media show.
I don’t think traditional media really knows how to combat trolls in this the Modern Era. They both are looking for the same thing, that being attention. So the one that should be checking social media, isn’t able to, because they use the same devices. It would be like if Superman tried to fight cryptonite with cryptonite.
The only way to combat trolls is to ignore them, collectively. That doesn’t mean that I ignore them and you celebrate their praises. Trolls play on fears and messaging. They needle points home that are anxiety inducing. We are weak Americans right now, ready to believe the worst about our neighbor because of the media landscape we live in.
With your favorite tool, social media, you trolls are the worst. You broadcast your opinion with sometimes virtually no knowledge of anything or a mountain of conjecture and links from something I like to call, The Internet. All you need is a little bit of uncertainty and someone to pin it on. You get popular and notoriety for stupid things, that in a previous time would have been discounted as not legitimate.
Here’s a little tidbit for those not in the know, The Internet lies, and it lies all the time. I could literally build a case for anything, send it through Reddit or 4Chan and have support for virtually anything. In an anxious, bi-polar media landscape, The Internet has legitimized you, the trolls, and it sucks.
In the not so distant past, people didn’t really think politics did much, outside of fringe issues like race and human rights. Sure there were activists and politicians that had strong views, but now everyone has an opinion informed by a source that is as anxious/divided as they are. We now, ironically, think that politics does a lot, at a time when politics probably does the least. (see (n.) Congress)
I mean are we the people that boring that we need politics for entertainment? Don’t we have bigger fish to fry?
You could take time to do some investigative reporting the opioid epidemic and whether that is a thing?
You could take time to investigate strategies for going from a ‘factory town’ to something else in the Rust Belt? I mean really get into the weeds of how those towns are affected from a practical perspective.
You could look into prison populations?
John Oliver does it, and he seems to make good on it, so there is precedence hmm?
I think as a nation we have an addiction to social & traditional media that is unhealthy. We the people of this Modern Era, get our jollies by seeing ‘what is going to happen next’ or ‘they said that?!’. This used to be a once a day thing, but now it is non-stop and everyone can respond. These are not productive uses of time. We take 5–10 minutes to do them, but it adds up. And if one is not careful, their inner Troll awakens and ends up on chat boards arguing about Pizzagate or on Breitbart arguing about gun control or on Facebook arguing with their Grandma for days, weeks at a time.
Once a person is sold on a weak spot for them, say if they are in vulnerable spot in their life or have had an unfortunate experience, the troll becomes strong in them. It releases those endorphins and there is little consequence or effort required to join a ‘movement’. You get those nice little butterflies by sitting at your computer enjoying ‘likes’ or numerous replies that ‘Yes Grandma, the First Amendment is protected.’ You feel validated for a wrong that is happened in your life. You feel validated for something that has been overlooked. But you are one person in a vacuum, where you can’t talk to your peers that are not like you and come to an agreement. You talk to those who like you and agree with you and the trolling continues.
Even me typing this is an oxymoron. It will go ignored like (thankfully) a majority of what gets put on to this cursed place called the Internet. It is a call for moderation, which is boring. I don’t have a ‘platform’. I don’t go on YouTube and make daring proclamations about the ‘truth’. I don’t promote through Twitter. It doesn’t have enough sting to land in the top 20 of Medium or whatever. This will be written (if written at all) into the over-arching story of ‘should we talk to controversial trolls or not?” trope even though I am trying to make a more nuanced point.
That point is, politics, like religion, is best in moderation, and trolls are ruining everything. I so hope this gets trolled.