Thursday, October 17, 2019

Deplatforming And The Troll

     Why are you here? No, I don’t mean “why do you exist?” I mean why do you choose to spend some fraction of your valuable time – time you cannot create or store up – here at Liberty’s Torch, reading rants from an old Curmudgeon and his associates, and occasionally commenting on one of them? What do you get out of it?

     I rather doubt you’ve learned anything here that you didn’t know before you arrived. Our typical Gentle Reader is intelligent and above-average erudite. We might put a different slant on things, now and then, but how often do we actually reveal some important datum you hadn’t already picked up from some other source? We’re not journalists; we’re analysts and commentators.

     No. You’re here to be among kindred spirits. If you comment here, you do so to be part of a conversation with people who share the great majority of your premises. Even on those occasions when you disagree with what you’ve read, you don’t imagine that it’s because we have divergent morals or ethics. You know that you can’t argue with a man’s premises to any constructive end.

     Which brings me to the subject of this morning’s tirade.

     The more popular a pro-freedom, pro-America site becomes, the more likely it is to be infested by a “troll.” That charming term refers to persons whose “participation” in the comments section of such a site is entirely negative, to wit:

  • He dismisses, derides, or condemns every point or sentiment made by the writers;
  • He does the same to those who comment there constructively (i.e., with an eye toward extending the analysis or teasing out its implications);
  • He impugns the intelligence, the knowledge, and the motives of the writers and those who comment there;
  • He is relentless: he returns regularly and does his best to disrupt any exchange among the devotees of the site.

     If you haven’t yet observed this pattern in operation, you are truly blessed.

     Time was, I would fence with such...persons. I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s what they want. It’s not that they desire to hear from a divergent perspective. They want to consume your time, attention, and energy. They hope that by doing so they can disrupt communications among persons in the Right.

     In the usual case, there’s only one troll to a given site. That might be happenstance, but as time has passed it’s come to seem less than likely. Think about that.

     We’ve read and heard a great deal about the Left’s tactic of “deplatforming:” i.e., depriving a figure in the Right of his power to reach an audience. If you’ve seen the term, you know how it’s done. There’s been a fair amount of it to date, nor does it appear that it’s halted or slowed. It’s an element in the Left’s tactical palette, along with “doxxing,” denial-of-service attacks, threatening the employers of Rightist voices, outright slander, and occasional vandalism or interpersonal violence. The point, of course, is to interfere with our communications with one another – hopefully to prevent us from reaching one another through the Internet.

     The deplatformers and the trolls work hand in hand. The former tactic is more obvious, and arguably more powerful, but the latter can dampen those exchanges that deplatforming, doxxing, et cetera cannot yet touch.

     It would be bad for this freest and most flexible of communications media to be closed to us. The Left would do so were it possible; indeed, their colonization of companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter is aimed in that direction. But at this time, deplatforming is insufficient to bring that about. Their other tactics are supplements to the deplatforming effort – and trolls are a part of it.

     The very worst thing we can do is to encourage the trolls to believe that their efforts are succeeding. Every time they manage to divert one of our conversations, or weary us out of participating in one, they will preen themselves and celebrate. But they can’t divert or weary us without our cooperation – which we must deny them.

     Need I say it more explicitly? I shall, just in case:

Don’t Feed The Trolls!

     Don’t help them along by responding to them. Keep in mind that they’re there to deflect your attention and wear you down. It keeps you from engaging with others whose worldview is compatible with yours. Your responses to their barbs, no matter how clever, can’t change their minds. They will only increase and intensify their trollery. That’s what reinforcement does.

     Liberty’s Torch, being a very minor site, has been relatively free of trolls to this point. But I’m not declaiming about this to protect my own site. I’m thinking of the “big boys” in the Right -- InstaPundit, PJMedia, Breitbart, and the like – where the greater part of the Right’s conversations occur. They’ve all been attacked in multiple ways. The one we can do the most to thwart is the Leftist troll.

     Please take it to heart.


pc-not said...

Good advice. I admit to being a little naive when it comes to these tactics of the Left. Your explanation of their strategy gives me clarity and situational awareness when encountering them.

Brian E. said...

I’ve considered Feeding The Trolls to be bad practice - for pretty much the same reason that I don’t wrestle pigs in the mud... ;-)


BION I do pick up new things here - and sometimes put essays you've written into my QUICK HITS linkfests (as I did in my latest).

More to the point, while I may not learn something totally new I often do gain from seeing the different perspectives.

Almost TGIF Francis and everyone.

FredLewers said...

Proverbs has several verses about fools and how to deal with them. As I get older and wiser I understand the book of Proverbs better and better. You are absolutely right about trolls... Ignore them. It drives themnuts and then they waste their time by trolling more and more... What a payoff!

Lurking Reader said...

I don't feed the trolls, but I’ve found another sordid effect they leave. If I respectfully disagree with someone on these major conservative sites, the first thing they do is accuse me of being a troll. Debate shut down, no exchange of differing ideas, etc. The troll won though he wasn't even there. Intolerance is not just a left trait, but has creeped into the right thanks to trolls.

Lurking Reader said...

Mr. Lewers,

I deal with trolls by blocking and reporting them. Slows them down, especially if they have been reported numerous times. They have to create another account to resume their mischief.

Col. B. Bunny said...

Trolls also advocate extreme violence. "These people need to be beaten/gassed/shot/fire bombed/lynched." They also are disgusting in their personal attacks on public figures.

They especially want to draw out other commenters to approve their words and thus discredit the site.