Today, we’re going to start with the basics and have a lesson on trolls. No. Not the mythological trolls who live under bridges, though some of these trolls would probably live under a bridge if that bridge was also a Wi-Fi hotspot.
We’re going to talk about internet trolls. Now, if you do not post stuff on the internet, like political cartoons or ever engage in online debates, then…GOOD FOR YOU! That’s very healthy for your mind and it means you will never encounter trolls. But, if you are the sort (like me) who posts opinions online or engage in online debates, then you are stalked by the cretins.
There are several types of internet trolls. The first is the troll who disrupts a conversation. If you post an opinion like, “Obama kept all of his promises,” and someone comes along and says, “but he didn’t shut down Guantanamo like he promised,” that person is not a troll. Someone disagreeing with you does not make them a troll. Though at times when you disagree with a conservative, he will accuse you of being a troll if you throw logic at him that he can’t refute. That is a tactic of a troll (we’ll cover more of those tactics in a bit).
The troll who disrupts merely disrupts because he’s trying to destroy the conversation and divert it into another direction until all the conversation consists of are insults. For example, let’s say you post that Trump’s Muslim ban is bigotry and unconstitutional, as he promised to ban Muslims while he was campaigning. An internet troll will enter your discussion and tell you how Islam is a violent religion and you hate America. He might even say if you don’t like it here then you should move to Iran, which he couldn’t find on a map if his troll life depended on it.
Another tactic of the troll is the art of deflection. For instance, you might start a conversation about how Trump University is a sham. The troll will come in and say something like “Benghazi” or “lock her up.” That doesn’t make any sense, does it? No. But, if you counter the troll by pointing out that his argument doesn’t make any sense, then the troll has achieved his objective because you’re not talking about Trump University anymore. Eventually, along the way, he’s going to call you a “libtard,” “snowflake,” and perhaps tell you that you desire a “safe space.” Other favorite terms for trolls are, “Odummer,” “Obummer,” and “Killary.” I know, they’re not very creative. Trolls never are. They all use the same code words because they’re not very good at formulating thoughts on their own. Also, watch out for “thug,” as that’s their replacement for the N-word.
Other troll tactics are never quitting. You can stop replying to them, but they’ll keep it up. If you do reply, that is commonly referred as “feeding the trolls.” Other tactics are using memes with fake stuff in them, like “Obama banned the Pledge of Allegiance.” One of their most effective tactics is the use of fake quotes. This is where they take a picture of someone, usually a founding father like Thomas Jefferson, and just make up some shit that he supposedly said like, “everyone should have a gun…and shoot their brown neighbor. It’s the American thing to do.” Trolls love them some fake quotes. Half the time, they don’t even know they’re fake, and they don’t care. Facts schmacts!
Another type of troll is the one who actually creates the post and starts the conversation. For example, last week I saw one of my conservative troll-like colleagues start a discussion wailing about the injustice Stephen Colbert gave toward religion because in his monologue, he mocked the Catholic church’s stance on gluten. Yes. Someone actually complained about this. A professional cartoonist, at that. Most of the conversation that followed consisted almost entirely of his fellow trolls, who all joined the wailing about the blasphemy Colbert directed at their religion. Of course, none of these people except for the original troll saw the monologue as they were all watching Fox News. This is the type of stuff used to create a divisive climate and to spread propaganda.
Which, is what the professional trolls do. These are the trolls that put actual heavy lifting into their trolling. The propagandists who made the phony videos that claimed Planned Parenthood was selling dead baby body parts were trolling on a grand scale. They put a lot of money into that trolling. Even after the videos were debunked, even by several state governments run by Republicans, the amateur trolls still believe it. Trolls don’t need facts or logic for their beliefs. They believe stuff based on their desire to believe it, like Obama was born in Kenya, and he’s a secret Muslim who went on an apology tour for America.
Now, if you go out and vote for Donald Trump and your vote is based only on lies, the troll doesn’t care. He’s done his job. The propaganda worked and it was cheap. The other person who doesn’t care if your vote was based on lies is Donald Trump. Of course, Trump is a major troll. His favorite troll term is “fake news.”
This is where the most dangerous trolls come in (along with the ones who inspire nuts to go on a shooting frenzy). Russian trolls. The Russian trolls aren’t just trying to decide an election. They’re trying to screw up other nation’s political systems. So far, they’ve done a very good job. America is full of all types of crazy, stupid people and all they needed was a little push.
During the campaign, we knew the Russians were putting fake information on the internet. Stuff like Hillary Clinton running a child-sex-slave shop out of the basement of a D.C. pizza parlor. Never mind that it wasn’t true, or that the pizza shop targeted doesn’t even have a basement. The objective is to make you believe it. Michael Flynn’s son was tweeting out the story about “Pizzagate” while he was on the Trump Transition team, and another guy believed it so much that he took a gun to the pizza shop and started shooting. Kinda like the guy who shot up the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood office because those videos told him they were selling dead babies.
If you take this story and help spread it around, share it on the Facebook, retweet it on Twitter, then you are what is commonly referred to as a “useful idiot,” and of course you’re a troll. And, you’re not just any kind of troll. You’re troll cattle.
The Russians have troll farms. That’s where they create shit, breed troll cattle to feed the shit, and then have the cattle spread it. If you’ve ever spread bullshit on the internet, you’re a fucking troll cow and there’s a good chance you were working for the Russians…and for free. You’re a piece of shit.
As it turns out, nearly a year after the election it’s come to our attention that the Russians weren’t just dropping fake stories on the internet. They were paying for it. They paid Facebook over $100,000 for bullshit ads. And even worse, they were advertising rallies, where trolls could gather and get pissed off together.
With the way this information has slowly been revealed by Facebook, some are wondering if Putin has a pee tape of Mark Zuckerberg (someone else made up that joke, but I don’t know who so I can’t give him or her credit).
Most of these trolls don’t know they’re trolls. But, give yourself a test. If you believe in something just because you want to believe it, then you might be a troll. If you have shared something (like a meme) and didn’t research it to find out if it’s true, then you might be a troll. Google is free, people. It’s not hard to look shit up, and you’re on the internet anyway. Something sounding like it could be true to you does not make it true. There are 25 million people who believe Kim Jong Un is a god, but that doesn’t make him a god. There were 62 million Americans who thought Donald Trump would make a good president, and that shit ain’t coming true either. Ever. And, if you believe Trump won the popular vote and there were millions of people voting illegally for Clinton, you’re a goddamn troll.
The trolls are out there. Whether they know it or not, they could be working for Russians. Look for the traits. Look for the keywords, like “Benghazi,” “lock her up,” “libtard,” “snowflake,” and “fake news.” Or, just look for the assholes.
Creative note: A couple weeks ago a colleague posted a question for other cartoonists, asking “what do you hate drawing the most?”. The number one answer was crowds. I don’t really mind crowds and I do it fairly often (as long as I don’t have to be in an actual crowd). The second most popular answer was…grass. I agree with that. Drawing grass sucks. Grass is in strands, it’s tiny, it’s green, and it can take all freaking day, or if you take the lazy route and do it very quickly, then it can look like crap. Fortunately for me, I’m aided by the fact that I don’t draw anything realistic. It’s because I’m sloppy. But, I will still spend seven stupid hours on a cartoon, with at least one hour of that drawing grass. I’d rather draw a crowd.
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