Trolls Part 3: Troll and Troll-Collectives -- Distinct Strategies

OK, this is the serious portion of this series. Sure, you may choose to have fun with trolls, or ignore them altogether, but honestly, I believe that there is a big difference between dealing with a single asshat who is diddling him/her/itself while attempting to stir up some shit, and dealing with the kind of concerted attacks that troll-collectives attempt to deal out.

Witness the various DDOS attacks that have been perpetrated upon one of my favorite blogs, Shakespeare's Sister, or any of a number of similar attacks on blogs (both liberal and conservative).

When trolls attack en-masse, they have a different agenda, I believe, than an individual troll (who basically just wants your attention). Troll collectives want to shut you up.

In the strictest sense of the word, these troll collectives aren't really trolls at all -- they're fascists, pure and simple.

Depending on how organized and dedicated they are, they may try a number of tactics -- for example -- from making it so inconvenient for you to manage your blog that you simply give up, to waging an all out hack attack to take your blog or website down completely.

Some of them say that they're just in it for the "lulz", but I don't believe that. I think that they're attempting to exercise power over other people.

You might read that word "fascist" and cringe -- you might think that I'm over-reacting or being hysterical -- but one of the earmarks of a true fascist is that they think that they know what's good and right for everyone, and they do not hesitate to take extreme measures to assure that everyone around them adheres to their understanding of what's "good/right". If you don't agree, they seem to have no moral or ethical questions about whether it's also "good/right" to beat you into submission until you either agree, or disappear.

In other words, a troll may "invite" you to deal with It. You still retain power and responsibility and can choose to do so, or not.

A troll-collective/group of fascists will simply step in and make sure that you either have to deal with them, go underground, or submit completely and just shut the fuck up.

While ignoring an individual troll may (and often will) eventually lead to that troll giving up and disappearing on its own, historical evidence pretty much proves, to me, that ignoring fascism doesn't produce the same result.

So what to do when a group of bullies tries to shut you up? Do exactly what you would do in real life.

  1. Call in your friends. Let people know what's going on, and ask them to help you out. I strongly encourage you to do this, rather than thinking you're some kind of whiner who "can't take it". Sure, the bullies are going to throw this at you -- ("pussy", "if you can't take the heat", etc.) -- but hell, they're the ones who are moving in en masse -- if they're such big tough hombres, why do they need to batter you as a mob?
  2. Until your friends arrive, get yourself to safety. "Lock your doors" (shut down your blog, or institute comment verification, or move to "invitation only") and call the authorities -- notify your web or blog host of what's going on, call the police or the FBI if you need to.
  3. Once you are safe, then start working on how to solve the problem.
  4. When the problem's solved -- keep on blogging. Remember? -- the whole point of the exercise was to get you to shut up -- Don't shut up.
As I've considered the attacks that the bloggers at Shakespeare's Sister have endured over the last months, a lot of shit has come up for me, and the bullies that have attempted to silence the voices at Shakes (-Ville and Sis) have given me plenty of stuff to think about. I've often wondered why there seems have been so many efforts to silence those particular voices.

Which has caused me to ponder why I love that particular blog so much. I read a lot of blogs, and surf a lot of web, on a daily basis. SS is, however, one of the places that I never miss in my daily blog-reading.

I used to think it was the snappy writing, the humor, and the diversity. I think, though, that there is something more that draws me (and, apparently, a bunch of asshat fascists) to that "place". As I've said before, there is the sense of community, but I think it's also a sense of (for lack of a better word) -- "heart", and the fact that the posters there aren't afraid to bring their humanity (hence the wide range of subjects in a given day -- yes, there is liberal political thought, but there is also social, cultural, and personal material -- which brings the bloggers themselves into focus for me).

I think that's what fascists are really afraid of -- not that we'll express our political views, but that we'll do so with conviction, humanity, and passion -- that we will show up as real humans, which implies real power to make real change in a real world.

When I finally truly "came out" as a lesbian, homophobia didn't magically vanish from the world I lived in. But some level of my own cooperation with homophobia did disappear.

My abuse as a child continued for as long as it did through a complex system of agreed-upon silences, including my own. When I stopped cooperating with those toxic, tacit agreements, I began to heal.

At this point in my life, I've observed what happens if you just shut up and submit. As difficult as it sometimes is to keep speaking my truth, the alternatives have never been satisfying, enjoyable, or effective. So I'm not fucking shutting up.

There. That is my final piece on trolls.

As with most things in my life, and especially the things in my life that I initially resist and despise, the trolls have taught me a lot -- my "Lesbian Grand Council" thing isn't wholly sarcastic, as it turns out -- the trolls have, through their efforts, only validated to me how important my favorite blog is -- so important that a bunch of trolls spent considerable time and effort trying to make it go away.

Trolls have re-kindled my activism, and convinced me of how vital it is to keep on speaking up.

Thanks for all the fish!

Posted byPortlyDyke at 10:44 AM  


NameChanged said... August 18, 2007 at 10:11 AM  

Thank you PortlyDyke. You make your point extremely clear with your own experiences. I too often take the road of "don't make waves" for the sake of...well I don't know. But thanks to your advice I have become more (not confrontational, but I can't find the word) and I am fighting the small battles.

I hope others listen to you.

Phydeaux Speaks said... August 18, 2007 at 4:02 PM  

Excellent conclusion to the series, PD!

And thou art tagged!

Phoenician in a Time of Romans said... August 20, 2007 at 12:50 PM  

Mmm - you need to read James Carse's _Finite and Infinite Games_, especially the section on evil.

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