In the After-Times there is no shortage of trolls on the internet. With the spread of misinformation and years of allowing people to treat opinion as fact, discourse surrounding tough issues can be frustrating. When we feel especially passionate about an issue, or if we have experienced something ourselves, it can be doubly infuriating when others are willing to throw down one sentence falsehoods as fact. The instinct is to teach, to share experience, to state facts and provide proof that this person is dead wrong is very strong.
But I’m here to tell you that’s so two thousand and late.
Internet trolls, whether purposeful or accidental, are not interested in your explanations, experience, or expertise. They exist for one purpose only, and that is to suck your energy. To tire you out using your own strength and knowledge against you. You will fill an entire thread with actual factuals, and at the end they’ll throw down something like “well, you have a right to your opinion! LOL!” and walk away, leaving you tired, frustrated, and jaded.
I had an interaction with a friend of a friend last night over the recently released report that almost half of the country can’t afford basic needs like rent or food. She launched into the typical “I shouldn’t have to pay taxes to help people that should just work harder and help themselves/they must just be making bad decisions with their money” kind of argument, and I told her to take her poor shaming and control issues elsewhere.
Then she pulled out the oldest trick in the troll handbook and said “Poor shaming isn’t a thing.”
Now at this point old instincts echoed inside of me. The urge to post all the studies and proof that poor shaming is part of the fabric of this country was almost insurmountable. Instead I wrote:
“Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha poor shaming isn’t a thing hahahahahahahaha oh man this bitch slays me”
This was unexpected, so the troll had to pull out the next trick, which is meant to trigger someone into proving they aren’t a thing that they are being accused of. The statement that is designed to send any reasonable, academic, intelligent person into the deep research realms to prove their worth.
“I’m so impressed by your superior logic. Your ability to support your opinion with facts seems to be lacking, but you are quick with the ad hominem attacks. Also don’t worry about the fact that cellphone was listed in things people can’t afford, because…that’s definitely a basic necessity.”
Doesn’t that statement just make you want to go off on so many tangents? Things like the difference between fact and opinion, or pointing out that no ad hominem attacks occurred, or providing evidence that cell phones (not smartphones, basic cell phones) have become a necessity in modern society. Wouldn’t you just love to educate this person and help them see the error of their ways?
But you can’t. A troll only ends one way – their entertainment via your exhaustion. So I resisted the urge and posted:
“Look at this troll, trying to make me feed her a term paper like it’s 2008 and I would still fall for that shit.”
Now this was a shock. The troll’s usual tools weren’t working! Oh no! Well, there was only one more tool to try – striking at the poster’s intelligence itself:
“Your intellectual ability, or in your case – disability, shouldn’t depend on the year. But I don’t care to do this with you on *friend’s* facebook page, or anywhere, since it is clearly a waste of time. Have a nice day sweetheart.”
I mean, these are the big guns. She calls me intellectually disabled, misunderstands my statement about 2008, claims she cares more about the friend than I do, calls the discussion a waste of time, and then condescends to me with the term sweetheart.
What. A. Cunt.
But remember, a troll is only looking for one thing – entertainment from you dancing to their tune. I forgot to mention a second goal, which is to distract from the issue. The fact that almost half the country might be in financial danger is scary, and might cause this person to have to take on the tough job of re-evaluating their morals, beliefs, and policy ideas. They might come out looking like a monster for being a person that would think this situation was okay as long as they weren’t bothered. So, feeling exposed, the best they can do is to “disagree with the premise” and spout opinions and falsehoods to confuse the issue until everyone forgets about it.
I shouldn’t have to convince someone to care about other people. This article and the situation at large should be enough to make everyone furious, either because they are the people being described or because they care about people in general. This friend of a friend was so worried about disproving and ignoring the facts in the article that she forgot to care. When given the choice between denial and empathy, she chose denial. She chose condescension. She chose derision. And once those decisions were made, she decided that they were her opinions and would defend them with everything she had.
In the face of poverty, suffering, danger, homelessness, struggle, imbalance, and strife, she chose to be a judgmental bitch.
When people show you who they are, believe them. Especially in the After-Times. Don’t argue, don’t discuss, don’t try to convince. Those are Before-Times activities. We live in an age where peoples’ true natures are revealed. It is very difficult to change who someone truly is. All we can do is be better, and try not let them distract us from that goal.
Half of our country cannot afford to live. The only question we should be asking is, how do we make that better? How do we change it? Not easy questions, but we must find answers to them soon.