TOTW: Don’t Get Trolled!

This week’s topic is near and dear to our hearts. Sometimes entertaining and often frustrating, trolling as a phenomenon is endemic to modern discourse, and this is especially true of political spaces. From people who veer discussions wildly off-topic with seemingly unrelated opinions to those who provoke frustration or even anger with opinions with which we disagree strongly, we are presented daily with complicated social interactions both online and offline. Trolls, by nature of their often provocative views and tendency to dominate discussions, may leave us feeling overwhelmed and ill-prepared to do anything but try and ignore them.

This topic of the week is about taking a more proactive stance on trolling without getting pulled into the cycle of trolling itself. Much as trolling often snowballs, on-topic comments which actively engage with the original topic of discussion or engage with it in a less unpleasant way can pull people out of the troll-spiral.

What are some concrete ways to shape a discussion to be interesting and engaging when we see it going off the rails? How can we make conversations that we don’t feel included in or feel frustrated with more interesting to us? How do we challenge views we disagree with without engaging in the often fruitless and unpleasant task of trying to engage a troll directly?

Here are some suggestions from the collective – we’d love to hear more in the comments!

  1. Point out something you like, don’t like, or are confused about in the original topic of discussion
  2. Mention something you’re reminded of in your past experiences or something you’ve read before that agrees or disagrees with the original piece – offering a link to a related article can help slow the discussion down and get people more involved in a more interesting way
  3. Offer a deeper analysis of an article – is what the piece is saying new or old? What kind of anarchy is it describing?
  4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments presented? What is it a good example of? What is it a bad example of?
  5. What would your favorite historical anarchist say about this?


Edited for

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