Hatred, trolls, and politics

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Ever since Wisconsin Still-Gov. Scott Walker managed to survive the recall election last night, from the minute the results were announced, I started getting tweet after tweet by troll after troll spewing (mostly misspelled) nastiness, gloating, and insults.

Sidebar: A brief Twitter lesson on trolling... A "troll" is someone who enters a Twitter stream, usually uninvited, and initiates a conversation in the most inflammatory way possible. Sometimes, but not usually, it starts out more subtly, then quickly escalates into full-on offensive content. The idea is to provoke, bait, disrupt, and eventually get an emotional response. One motivation is to acquire more followers and/or get a posse to pile on. They often appear to be illiterate, bigoted, racist, uninformed, misinformed, and very angry. And yes, that description also fits commenters at this blog, as well as the very definition of Fox News [sic] devotees... and believe it or not, even some fellow Dems.

Just as things were settling down, I was deluged again because Michael Moore retweeted the same tweet of mine that the Maddow Blog posted on their site (scroll), and all the Moore haters swooped in.

These people don't want to debate for the most part, nor do they care about having a civil discussion. They go directly to rude, hostile blather and harassment, and I go directly to the block option, although I do sometimes succumb to a couple of rounds of Whack a Troll when I'm feeling feisty.

But why is this happening? Why is there so much blatant rancor? The political climate is so heated, so hateful, that, just as Congress is more divided than ever, so are the rest of us.  And because people can hide behind their computers, feel removed, knowing there's a distance between them and who they choose to attack, even bully, knowing they are likely impossible to track and identify, they take full advantage.

How can our representatives govern properly if one side openly announces that its primary goal is to boot out the president instead of passing laws that will improve life for fellow U.S. citizens? How can those who are governed by clashing Congress members achieve their own peace if tea party enthusiasts, Breitbart followers, right wing extremists, and religious fanatics condemn and assault anyone they see as the enemy?

What's worse, and ironic, is that those we think are dead wrong about so many things feel the very same way about us. Their concern is that we'll win elections and power, and we're worried that they will. Fear can be a powerful motivator.

Disagreements are fine, but bombarding or beating up on political opponents doesn't resolve disputes or change minds, it solidifies positions, and can even radicalize the other side.  Launching attacks without provocation expressly to evoke a knee-jerk response or to start a fight to get attention is self-serving, destructive and unnecessary.

And it's no way to improve the nation's collective state of mind, or for that matter, the state of the union.

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  • alwaysthink

    The Koch cabal has found a crew of fearful bullies to storm social media to try and disrupt any constructive discussion of real issues.  Check out the States Policy Network to see some of the training they are doing to create these wackos to disrupt dialogue.

  • alwaysthink

    And cyber hugs for the day to you.  

  • Kevin Schmidt

    The upper 1/10% are masters at 'divide and conquer'. They skillfully divert our attention to far less important wedge issues, while they continue to steal the wealth of the middle class, shred the Constitution and pollute the planet with bipartisan support from our treasonous Fascist Democratic-Republican Party, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Gilded Fascist Elite, Ltd.

    As long as uninformed people blame only the fascist Republicans or only the fascist Democrats, then they too are part of the fascist problem. Wake up and smell the bipartisan fascism and treason.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Willard-D-Russell/1284685385 Willard D Russell

    Want to see completely crazy far right trolls, go to Topix.
    It is polluted with them.

  • http://twitter.com/LatteLiberals Latte Liberals

    I'm so honored my tweet led to this very thoughtful piece.  The toxic stew created by the right wing corporate media has taken America to this dangerous point in history.   I'm mourning the loss of our democracy with the re-election of Scott Walker. 

    Harbor & Jaym are both correct.  We can not reason with these reactionaries.   And its important to call them reactionaries.  They aren't conservatives, preserving any traditions, but fundamentally altering our entire society with their radical views.  

    What we are dealing with are right wing authoritarian followers, who lack the ability to reason and empathize.   You can find out more about these flawed human beings by reading a free online book called The Authoritarians by Bob Altermeyer.  

    In a nutshell these right wing authoritarians enjoy hurting people.   The GOP agenda makes sense when you realize this.  The GOP voters aren't voting against their own best interest, they are voting against your best interest, even if it means they have to suffer along the way.   They are made up from the same stuff as the Nazis, and will self-destructive just the same, taking the rest of us with them.   

    Altermyer's research shows that 23% of any nation is made up of  authoritarians. Not much we can do about them except marginalize them.  Make sure they are kept from power and feel isolated and alone with their warped beliefs.   Instead the media has embolden these people, and that is why the destruction of American democracy should be firmly placed at the feet of the corporate media. 

    The 1% wouldn't be able to get away with their agenda had it not been for the media lying through omission, brainwashing the masses with propaganda and emboldening the psychologically unstable authoritarian followers. 

    Our number 1 goal as progressives, liberals, moderates and yes real conservatives, should be to continue to create alternatives to the corporate media and remove its stranglehold over American society.   If the FCC refuses to regulate the corporate media.  We the people must.  Perhaps if we can take over our local governments we can begin to ban corporate media outlets that don't serve the public interest. 

  • Jaym Esch

    I understand this argument, and with wisdom, it should work. But the problem is, there is NO wisdom held by conservatives.  You *can not* get them to show an ounce of reason, compassion, or acknowledge *real* facts.  I am beyond done with allowing the truth to be open to debate. It's not- there's only one truth, and it's not something you can argue. It's a binary 01.

    As I've said before, I've received over two dozen "kill yourself/commit suicide" wishes/advice from conservatives on Twitter. Why? In response to heated arguments? Rhetoric? No... I received these after getting a conservative to calm down long enough to explain my life situation. To explain how there are people- highly educated, with high IQs- who can't work for highly valid reasons. To explain that I've been unable to find work I can perform for 10 years, and that despite their rhetoric, there IS no aid- they won't give it to you. I mean, I've been denied federal disability twice now- the first time took 7 years. The second time? 1 week. They didn't even bother to examine the data from the psychologist I finally get to see weekly, who has said I should be on benefits.

    No, as soon as I begin explaining these realities, the dumb pours in. "You can work at McDonalds." Even though I explained setting aside the fact you can't survive on the wages of a fast food job, I would literally collapse on the floor screaming for help due to my anxiety disorder. I'm expected to what, do this each week? Move on to the next restaurant in town until I've worked at every location and been fired? Be unable to get out of bed in any spare time I have because I have to destress just to make it into such a workplace the next day?

    Then comes the next argument: You're just lazy.  Which of course contrasts with the 8 straight years I worked out of college 7 days a week, 10-24 hour days, no overtime pay, all holidays, and still ended up with no money. One company not paying me and ruining my credit even to this day. So, if I'm lazy, why is it I worked my entire 20s- sacrificing my chance to date, get married, have kids, etc.? That's highly contradictory.

    So, once compassionate conservatives hear my story- which I share in an effort to educate them the world is not so black and white as they've been lead to believe by Hannity & Limbaugh, the only thing their minds can derive as a proper response is, "Well, you're useless then. You should just kill yourself." Considering I'm on what I call a "future suicide" bubble, something that might be a danger in five more years, it's not something you want others telling you, regardless of how unimportant that person is in your life.

    So again, I certainly wish we could drop the divisiveness and discuss issues intellectually, but when the other side is unwilling to show compassion, or have intellect and wisdom- or even acknowledge truth and reality, I don't see how you can do it.

    For me, as it stands, today's conservatives are my enemies in every sense of the word. If they learn to be adults again, I'll change my stance, but until then, I'm defending my life against their hate and destruction.

  • HarborGuy

    It amazes how the Haters, have become SO emboldened to spew their vomit...simply amazing.

    And there are so many to thank...FuxNews...churches...the GOPathetic/Bagger Party...the Net...Hate Radio...and the Limp Stream Media (for letting these freaks get away with this).

    It's a bad thing...a VERY bad thing...for America and the World.