CAN WE DEFEAT SOCIAL MEDIA’S TROLL POLITICS ?

Cait Brennan@PlanetCait 15h15 hours ago

. busting ‘s privilege warms the heart of the original slightly less well off trans gal named Cait. 🙂

^ trolling Caitlyn Jenner with slogans and insult

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During the past three years so a new platform has grown up for political irresponsibility. Facebook in part and twitter vividly have been appropriated by active extremists in pursuit of this or that agenda. Using slogans, buzz-phrases, defamation, lies, and plain old intimidation, and acting in concert, non-stop, this very small but very poisonous number of voices has managed to troll the entire universe of social media, rendering its conversations disgusting, useless.

Troll politics arose in response to talk show politics, a bastard entertainment in which an emcee says the host outrageous things he or she can get away with, as a means of drawing attention and thus advery6sing dollars to his or her “show.” It’s nothing but hucksterism, an amoral act contemptuous of actual politics and willing to destroy people’s confidence in poo9i8y69icsd for the sake of show ratings. Most of these talk hucksters worked the political right; it took awhile for a response to gather on the left, but that has now happened. From the ad hoc Occupy movement, which did not quite make sufficient or disgusting enough noise, has arisen several movements of troll politics — environmental radicalism, “Black Lives Matter,” AFL CIO intransigence, full of race carding and class warfare tropes: all of it depressingly Orwellian — which, joined to the old Occupy fixation on big, bad corporations and banks, have intimidated ordinary citizens away from the political arena — who, after all, has the stomach for being insulted, defamed, and intimidated endlessly by strangers ? — thereby opening vast territory to depredation by trolling.

It is not clear yet by what means mainstream politics can defeat the trolls. The First Amendment gives them the right to dirty everyone and every discussion. There’s also the old adage “never get into a pissing contest with a polecat.” You can’t win a mud fight with a mud mouth : you end up looking just as muddy as the mud troll. Nor is it any good to ignore the trolls. Do that, and you’ve ceded the entire discussion to them.

Where, then, is the weakness of troll politics ? Through which it can be eviscerated once and for all ? Actually there are several weaknesses that normal politics can exploit :

1. The trollers are few. During the debate over the Boston Olympics, opponents using internet troll devices numbered about 70, with another twice that number closely aligned. (The Mayor said “10 people on Twitter,” but it was more like my figure.) 210 tweeters sure make a bunch of noise on a twitter user’s news feed : but it’s still a very small number in an electorate numbering hundreds of thousands. Activating the much, much larger number of people who don’t breathe fire on an issue, but who support it, and keeping this huge number motivated, and focused, during the long haul while being trolled every hour of every day is difficult to achieve : but if achieved it cannot fail to win.

2. The trollers are so extreme that to publicize their statements is to alienate everyone from them. Shining the harsh spotlight on criminal or anarchic actions by the Black Lives Matter people and stubborn, obsolete accusations by AFL-CIO’s against Trans Pacific partnership (TPP) demonstrated to everyone else just how far out of bounds these trolleries were taking things. (Exposure killed the AFL CIO’s anti-TPP campaign; fortunately for social justice, acts and race-baiting insults by Black Lives Matter people were so extreme that they alienated everyone from the activists but not at all from the actual cause, which continues thanks to the Department of justice.)

3. The trollers tend to be humorless and melt very quickly when made fun of. Sarcasm and satire prove very effective weapons against hepped-up hotheads because most people aren’t hepped up and because hepped-up behavior really does look funny when seen apart from its content. Most political trolls are hugely full of themselves; trolling is the dark side of ego tripping. And ego is an extremely vulnerable state of being, easily toppled, made to look as foolish as it truly is.

4. Many political trolls are remarkably ill informed. Which is why they think that a slogan view of things is a eureka moment. Sooner of later some realize that they’ve been had.

All of the above being said, and suggested, defeating internet troll politoics will not be easy. Campaigns will require great discipline, canny planning, much “intel” about who they are facing, strong focus, and a huge group of supporters ready to walk through mud and fight fire with ice, to smile when provoked and steer always toward the main  chance.

It will not be easy or happen often. Only the best run, shrewdest campaigns will manage it. But we owe it to citizenship to make the attempt always. Social justice will be destroyed, not achieved, if we don’t.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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