Going Low — New Strategies for Trolling Right-Wing Trolls

by Jeremy Sherman

Leave your angst, disgust, outrage, fury and moralizing the hell out of it: If you’ve got sensitive skin in the game, you’re doomed. Feel all those things on your own time. Treat troll-baiting the way a surgeon treats surgery, a criminologist treats crime, a military strategist treats strategy, or a mixed-martial artist treats the ring. Your emotions, however justified, are only going to get you tangled up.

Have fun: You’re tooling up, adding to your repertoire behaviors you never had or that went dormant in more civilized times. These are street fighting skills you not only need, but can enjoy. Imagine how much fun you could have learning combat in preparation for war. Not much fun? I get that. This is more fun and a way to keep from having to learn combat in preparation for war.

If you make a bet that you’re dealing with a troll, stick with it: You may, in fact, be wrong about them. Expect some error while trying to minimize it. There’s only one thing worse than disrespecting the respectable. It’s showing respecting those undeserving of your respect. It’s like having trust and faith in a rapist. There’s a serenity prayer in here: Grant me the generosity to engage the receptive, the aggressiveness to thwart the unreceptive, and the wisdom to know the difference. You’ll fail some on both fronts, being generous with the unreceptive and aggressive with the receptive. At this point though, the right is flooded with unreceptive hypocrites. Don’t be giving right-wingers much benefit of the doubt.

Troll-proof your bet: A troll will pretend you’re off your meds for messing with them. They’ll act shocked and say in so many words, “Hey, you don’t know that I’m troll” Say “You’re right I don’t,” and leave it at that. It’s true. You don’t. It’s your bet and having made it, you’re going to stick with it, no need defend it.

Non-stick surface: Parents of brats eventually learn that giving reasons for their decisions invites debate. It’s like offering handles for the brats to grab and manipulate. By the same token, don’t give trolls reasons why you’ve decided things. It implies that you are trying to convince them of something and worse, that you think they’re interested in reasoning things out. Be unreasonable because that’s what they are.

Have spectators and swing for the bleachers: The troll isn’t your audience but your straight man. Belittle them by talking past them to anyone listening. Don’t say, ‘look what you’re doing,” say “look what he’s doing.”

Have low expectations:  Never expect to change a troll’s mind about anything. Your goal is to flummox them, prove that their formula isn’t as foolproof as they think. Their silence or slinking off muttering curses at you on the way out is evidence of your success.

Do not lead by example:  When they go low, you have license to go wherever. Do not think you can win them over by moral example. They are enjoying a psychopathic holiday. Do not be generous, respectful or kind with psychopaths. They will not reciprocate.

Never take their bait:  Never engage with them on their terms. Ignore their arguments on morality, current events, facts, good authority, hypocrisy, logic, values, history, fairness, principle – anything that they lead with. Their formula is designed to lead you around by the nose.

Control everything, even their exit:  You don’t need the last word. Give it to them. Cut and shame them and then say, “I’ll let you have the last word” and then let them have it. It isn’t about last words. It’s about exposing them and others to the failure of their formula.

Don’t enable their feigned authority:  Right-wing trolls are just a Hannity wannabes. They regard themselves as pundit authorities deserving of everyone’s attention rather than the dime-a-dozen dickheads they really are – plenty more where they came from. Don’t get hung up any one of them. Walk away anytime. Don’t feel obligated to respond to them.

Taunt and tease them about their desperation:  When you’ve got them hooked into playing out their formula, say “I’m flattered that he cares so much about convincing me that he’re right. I understand. He need the attention desperately and has latched on to me as the one who can give it to him.”

Trolls don’t care what they believe. Why should you?: Never ever mistake this for an dialogue about what’s right and feel free to tell him so. “I get the impression that he thinks I care about his opinion. Of course, I don’t. He has already demonstrated that he isn’t paying the slightest attention to what’s right. No, I’m using him for practice, just another easy asshat on the asshat rack.”

Source: AlterNet.org by Jeremy Sherman