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.
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?