Trolls of Tribes

Vexed Bermuda has a bit of a rant about what he calls ‘PLP trolls’.

Which is curious as the description he used was almost exactly what a PLPer was talking to me the other day about ‘OBA trolls’.

Point is, what we consider trolls is, I think, largely dependent on what side of the political fence we sit on – we’re often blind to trolls on ‘our’ side and fixate solely on ‘their’ trolls.

Beware - Trolls!

Beware – Trolls!

Back when I was a member of the PLP and maintained my independent line – including this blog, but elsewhere online – I was a target for both ‘PLP trolls’ and then ‘anti-PLP trolls’ (which were largely UBP trolls to be honest).

‘PLP trolls’ attacked me because I was independent of the Party Line and didn’t hesitate to criticise the Party when I felt it warranted.  Of course I couldn’t keep track of everything – who could? – but that didn’t stop me criticising when I felt it was necessary.

PLPers would accuse me of weakening the Party and assisting the UBP.  I argued that only self-criticism and critical thinking would keep the PLP accountable to its own legacy and was the best way to keep the UBP in Opposition.

When I criticised the PLP the UBPers paid me compliments.  When I defended the PLP or advocated PLPish arguments the UBPers trolled me as an ‘apologist’, etc.

Today, with the PLP in Opposition, I don’t have to deal with too many PLP trolls anymore, but the now OBA trolls are legion in painting any criticism of the OBA as PLP trolls.

Despite my having broken with the PLP in 2009 over the Uigher issue (itself just the final straw for me), and having developed a truly independent political line since, including an independent political platform in the 2012 general election, OBAers seem content to portray me as a covert PLPer or PLP apologist.

So, yeah, we have trolls on both sides, and they help maintain our political tribes – and at the same time reflect our political tribes.

There aren’t just PLP trolls.

In fact, I’d say there are perhaps twice as many OBA trolls online (if not more) than there are PLP trolls.

Only OBAers will largely be blind to OBA trolls and so see only PLP trolls – and largely vice versa.

What can be done to deal with this situation?  I honestly don’t know.

I try to ignore them, or engage positively and respectfully, although I fully admit that sometimes the barbs do get to one and I return fire – we’re all human after all.

Perhaps the best thing would be to just ignore them – and there’s an argument that online commenting on at least the news sites is actually detrimental (although it brings in potential revenue for those sites).

There’s also an argument for requiring people to cease hiding around pen-names, although that has its own sets of pros and cons – and as one can see with the emergence of Bermudian political pages on Facebook, that’s certainly no guarantee of ending trolls.

At the very least though, we need to recognise that there’s trolls on both sides, and that neither side has a monopoly on them.

And, ultimately, a troll is a troll is a troll regardless of their political tribe.

What do you think?

Are there trolls on both sides of our politics?

Are there more trolls on one side than the other?

What do you consider a troll?

What’s the best way to move beyond them?


5 thoughts on “Trolls of Tribes

  1. You yourself are well aware that the PLP made trolling an official part of party strategy in 2007 with their takeover of Progressive Minds. That hasn’t stopped.

  2. There’s a big difference between someone commenting in support of something – and no doubt the overwhelming majority of online commenters are anti-PLP (but after the last 14 years I’m not sure how anyone couldn’t be anti-PLP on some level).

    What makes trolls different is that they post largely to get a rise out of other people and not for any productive purpose. They take pleasure in the game of getting people riled up (see: Vanz Chapman). Now we see the PLP itself behaving like trolls in the House and in their communications – where the aim is not to improve discourse or move the country forward but to evoke a response and to “win” for themselves.

  3. Yes – I helped expose that. However that doesn’t mean the OBA or the UBP before it weren’t doing something similar (and those suspicions remain, especially regarding RG LTTEs).

    If one looks at the online comments on Bernews or the RG, there’s plenty of trolls from both dies imho – with the OBA ones usually outnumbering the PLP ones.

  4. Good grief am I a Troll? I first began to write political opinions in 1977;always sign my real name and have had disagreements with the PLP big time but still supported them politically.
    I guess my concerns were always what I consider to be best for my country. I don’t the term Troll in it’d current contexts was even out when I started?

  5. “Are there trolls on both sides of our politics?” – Yes

    “Are there more trolls on one side than the other?” – on the RG, far more ‘OBA’ trolls,… on Bernews, closer to 50/50.

    “What do you consider a troll?” – When style trumps substance. When a comment brings up personal attacks or other mean-spirited put-downs (this includes labelling people as ‘retards’, idiots, kool-aid drinkers and the like) When being mean is masked as “Keeping it Real” or some other deflection-like excuse for being a jerk.

    “What’s the best way to move beyond them?” – until the Mute/Block option is available on a site-by-site level, ignore the trolling contents and only address legitimate/respectful discussions. In the case of Facebook groups, it’s reason #1 I avoid those areas – it’s not worth getting bashed and potentially trolled/harassed on a personal real-world level.

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