Being targeted by right-wing trolls, as I every so often am, can almost be a form of sport. I can almost say I nearly had fun with it.
When I mentioned this to a fellow journalist from a major website yesterday during a media event, her eyes grew wide and she said: “I wouldn’t underestimate them. A friend of mine once went to protest against Steve Hofmeyr, and then some people came around to his house in a bakkie with big speakers and played Steve Hofmeyr music for hours.”
I had to shudder. I’d feel so sorry for my poor neighbours, who would never have been exposed to the crime against humanity that is Steve se Grootste Treffers.
More seriously, though, the sad reality is that, for all their huffing and puffing, such people are little more than online trolls who do an awful lot of barking. They are dying to be taken seriously in a country that increasingly considers them irrelevant. They also appear to take it quite personally when a website like The Citizen isn’t expressing the kind of Louis Luyt-approved messaging they may have been more accustomed to in 1977 – but, hey, things change.
What they certainly don’t do much of, it seems, is reading, especially when it comes to the writing of the person they apparently don’t agree with. My fellow journalist told me that her experience was that people would begin to froth at the digital mouth upon merely seeing a headline and being “triggered” by a fellow troll’s comment on a Facebook or Twitter share.
Going as far as to actually read articles and reflect on an opinion that may diverge from one’s own appears to be the preserve of “libtard lefties”.
No. They just respond to Baas Steve and whoever else they consider their leader (individuals to whom they appear to outsource the challenge of doing the actual reading and judging). Once they are in this manner pointed towards the thing or person they should show their disapproval of, they go into full attack mode.
Of course, it’s hard to respect someone who not only bashes and insults you for having an opinion that differs from theirs (which is childish enough), but who doesn’t even know what you actually wrote.
I don’t mind engaging in a debate with someone about what I think, but how can one debate with someone who doesn’t even know that you didn’t even express the particular opinion they’re accusing you of?
You can’t fix stupid. Nor can you talk to stupid.
So I found myself – mostly – ignoring them. When I did respond it was with sarcasm or, even worse, I poured bounteous blessings upon them using the deepest Afrikaans I have etched on my soul from year after year of growing up in numerous Apostoliese pews.
The more they insulted me, the more I told them how wonderlik it was to commune with them in the holy heavenly name of our Almagtige Vader, which only made them insult me more. This carried on until they begged me to just leave them alone and stop bothering them.
But I kept on blessing and pouring the Holy Spirit on them until they blocked me.
Every so often, some of these interactions ended with the person concerned realising I hadn’t written the thing that some odd man who makes very strangely edited YouTube videos (which make him look like a glitch in the Matrix) claims I did.
When this realisation was reached, we’d wish each other well and either move on with our lives or express the never-to-be-realised wish to have a beer together someday.
It’s possible that the video guy who twists everything the way he does is doing it because that’s the only way he knows to produce his “product” …. or possibly it’s because he actually doesn’t do very well with understanding things slightly more complicated than a game of Snakes and Ladders.
I don’t much care either way.
None of this was particularly traumatic, to be honest. On reflection I just had to “survive” some poorly worded insults on Twitter and Facebook from a few presumably very bored people who think that calling someone the son of a sex worker (not in those precise words, mind you) and how I didn’t deserve to be in my white skin are meant to be thought of as an insult.
I was also regaled with a variety of descriptions of the numerous physical punishments that would be meted out upon me. They read like something the Marquis de Sade would have come up with if he’d just drunk a whole bottle of brandy as a way to take the edge off his hangover from drinking 10 bottles of brandy.