Some Christians knocked on my door early this morning, even though there is “Do Not Knock” sign clearly displayed. Now I subscribe to the philosophy that religion is like a penis: Some people have one and others don’t and it’s fine either way. But if you have one, don’t knock on my door and ask me to have a look at it. That they should pick today is ironic, because I was actually planning to write about the Christian ideal of turning the other cheek in this blog today.
It seems to me there are two sorts of people considered “trolls”: the first is attempting to win you over to their way of thinking by presenting an alternative viewpoint of reasonable arguments and evidence to make you consider a different viewpoint. It’s always been a danger that people associate with others like them, and don’t get to see a different world view. (After Jeff lost, Felicity Kennett said she didn’t know how that was possible as she didn’t know ANYONE who voted Labor!?!). The internet makes it easier for people to join groups that just perpetuate their view that God wants us all to own guns so we can shoot gay people who want to marry. Strictly speaking, people who just want to challenge and present other points of view, aren’t trolls. Trolls are, like Andrew Bolt, deliberately provocative, and use language designed to infuriate.
Bolt, of course, gets paid for it. So why do trolls do it? One possible explanation is that they like making people angry; another is that they have some sort of desperate need to be abused. Either way, I recommend we treat them all with compassion, and understanding, so when some troll writes: “Juliar is redhearded witch who wuz neva alleckted.”, writing back that they should use a spell check or commenting that this is what happens when Queenslanders marry only validates them. Far better to ignore them.
Quoting evidence or facts back at them may seem like a reasonable course of action, but I wasted many valuable moments of my life arguing with one troll who just dismissed all sources I presented as being part of a plan for world government which included the mainstream media and the left, scientists and government, the United Nations and, of course, teachers. (I pointed out that this was as likely as Hitler’s claim that the Reichstag was burned done by Jewish bankers working with the socialists, but he seemed to think the Jewish bankers and the socialists were STILL working together). He regularly told me that I was incapable of thinking for myself, followed by a link to a web site where someone was telling him what to think when he was thinking for himself.
And then I remembered the Christmas discussions with my older brother, who liked to provoke all tertiary educated by supporting One Nation policies. I don’t know whether he really believed the things he said, I do know that he enjoyed the argument. There was no point trying to win the argument, because he would change the subject. It was frustrating until I decided to become as irrational and dogmatic as he was. Then it just became fun.
So if you find yourself unable to ignore a troll. Or if you find yourself at a family lunch with a Liberal supporter, don’t expect reason to win the day. Try making them the frustrated exasperated one. For example:
“Well, you can’t deny global warming now, after what’s happened.”
“We’ve always had extreme temperatures, the recent weather patterns…”
“I’m talking about what’s happened in North Korea!”
“Someone on the news said that it was the world’s biggest hot spots”
“That’s got nothing to do with the weather.”
“So, you’re denying that there’s a problem in North Korea!”
“It’s got nothing to do with global warming”
“Next you’ll be denying that Julia Gillard was born in Australia.”
“What’s that got to with anything? Neither was Tony Abbott!”
“It doesn’t matter where Julia was born!”
“Then why are people demanding to see Obama’s birth ceritificate?”
“To prove he’s an American!”
“What’s that got to do with the situation in Syria?”
“Then why did you bring it up? You’re just being ridiculous.”
Let them be the one with the high blood pressure.
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