My first experience as a Palmer Report writer with a Trump-supporting troll was when one of that tribe informed me that my “grammar” was terrible because I used the phrase “Trump himself,” which was, he claimed, redundant. When I pointed out that the phrase had a perfectly defensible pedigree (cf. “the devil himself”) the Trump supporter had the good sense to disappear and never darken my comment field doorway again.
That species of good sense is rare in a Trump-supporting troll. What usually happens is the troll keeps coming back. Like the guy who, in furtherance of lecturing me on what constitutes “proper journalism,” misspelled the word “journalism” two different ways in the same thread. He, I eventually blocked. I’ve better things to do.
As do we all. Besides, can we take it as a given, as an axiom for that matter, that anyone supporting Donald Trump must be either corrupt or stupid? And can we further assume the corrupt ones – typically the rich and the greedy – are too busy stealing money to bother with trolling? That leaves the stupid. One cannot help but reserve a certain admiration for the Trump troll in one thing if nothing else: they certainly picked their perfect patron saint. Like your canonical troll, Trump pretends to have expertise entirely without evidence, and derides and mocks without cause. He is his own perfect model for the typical Trump troll.
But, as it turns out, engaging a Trump troll is a waste of time for a reason that might surprise you. It’s called “the backfire effect,” which is the product of a study done at Dartmouth College and answers the question “can false or unsubstantiated beliefs about politics be corrected?” with a definitive “No!” What’s more, the longer you argue with the politically misguided (read: Trump supporter) the more implacably Trump-supporting they will become. In short, you’re wasting your time.
To argue is to co-opt the role of yin to the Trump troll’s yang. The Trump troll cannot exist without your consent, and he will go away when ignored. Blocking all Trump trolls might be an idea to consider. In the run up to the 2020 election it’s guaranteed in advance that we will be inundated by them from Russia. The thing we could do to punish them the most would be to ignore them. And then, what would they do if they gave a bot-party and nobody came?
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.