How to deal with unreasonable or mean people on Twitter

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/07/07/how-to-deal-with-unreasonable.html

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I’ve never had to deal with the host of unreasonable or mean people on Twitter. One guess as to how I accomplish that (hint: see my comments on Facebook).

ETA: speaking of cesspool social media platforms…

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Yeah, I’m guessing the method starts with “first, get a Twitter account.”

(Wasn’t there some kind of Twitter boycott(s) not too long ago?)

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Not buying her books, audiobooks, or seeing her stage play is a good start.

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A few years ago there was an transphobic post on FB that used an image by artist (and neighbor!) Mark Hogancamp. Something to the effect of “for all of you calling Bruce Jenner a hero, this is what real heroism looks like”:

I wrote to the OP directly and pointed out that, not only is this image of GI Joe dolls, but was created as part of an artist’s therapy after being savagely beaten after confiding in some bigots that he enjoyed wearing women’s undergarments. The next day, he not only pulled the post which had gone viral, but issued an apology for his ignorance. I imagine a number of people pointed out the irony of his post as well, but it did feel good to see such a dramatic about-face when confronted with an appeal to empathy.

A few years later, I was lucky enough to nab a signed, original print for my son at our non-profit’s annual fundraising auction. I still see Mark at the grocery store now and again. Dejah Thoris is always with him.

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I’m sure this will work extremely well with Trump!

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Why is twitter still a thing?

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I think the word there should be griefer rather than grifter.

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#4 should be #1 on the list. First instinct should be to block unless you have a good reason to believe that they are acting in good faith. Trolling is easy so it’s extremely commonplace. Engaging with the trolls only encourages them and you’ll never be able to convince them to change their position because their position is “whatever makes you mad”.

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It’s a tiring process, but imagine if everyone who got trolled decided to use these methods, it might actually make a difference. There’s no way to completely eradicate anger and vitriol, but it might neutralize some percentage of online trolls.

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I am on Twitter and follow a couple of reporters, some local news sources and a couple of pundits. I do not follow any “Twitter personalities”. I still see some bullying (not of me 'cuz I post very few comments). I just block the trolls; I feel neither the need nor the obligation to educate or provide research for willfully ignorant people on the internet.

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Is that the fellow who inspired the Steve Carell movie? I need to watch that. It’s such a brilliant form of corrective therapy and I really hope the artist is doing well.

More directly on topic, I can’t imagine having the energy to fight trolls online. I’ll stick to a mostly offline life with the exception of this forum, where the only trolls are likely to be D&D miniatures.

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Yes, but from all accounts it was not good. There was a whole lot of uncanny valley, but what ultimately led me to skip it was that Mark’s struggle was largely papered over (allegedly).

However, there was an excellent documentary about him made in 2010 with his long time collaborators (who also helped him get a book published, also excellent):

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Eh, I just Block and ignore them. Probably not the best way to do it, but sure as fuck is it the easiest.

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Just seeing the cover of the documentary, I started getting the feels and why are my eyes all misty?
Such a fantastic movie. So many emotions. It’s been ~10 years since I watched it and I still feel its effect on me.

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I’m thankful for “block” functions in general, but with Twitter- best way is to not even enter that dumpster fire in the first place

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The terms of art mostly relevant to this are “calling out” versus “calling in” someone. Calling out someone for posting something racist, homophobic or sexist is often the only tool that people resort to, and often is called for. But does little to convince someone to change their message or tone or beliefs.

Calling in involves more emotional labor, time investment, and careful strategy. I’ve had some success calling in people, even strangers, who have posted anti-BLM or “blue lives matter” posts. I typically try and find some common ground with them, give them the benefit of the doubt, ask a lot of questions, and suggest ways that they might make their message get across more clearly. Even if I don’t win them over, I often learn something, and perhaps get some small concession from them that there are other perspectives that are also valid.

For reference:


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Check out the book! I had to tape up the binding of our copy because it’s gotten so much attention over the years.

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While I’m not on social media, I do blog a bit, and my experience is that true trolls are not that common. Like the OP, I’ve had a fair number of number of exchanges over the years that started somewhat hostile, but ended up as a reasonable exchanges of ideas.

And to be honest, if someone agrees with me, that tends to be the end of the conversation. It’s people who disagree with me who can enlighten by bringing unknown facts, odd insights, or at worst, illuminate the process of how they came to their belief system.

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It’s worth reminding ourselves that, if you engage with problem internet people on a personal level, it often will lead to something that is healthier for both parties. It’s a matter for your own, like, christian conscience whether you want to try. But the main reason “don’t feed the trolls” is good advice is not that PIPs are irredeemable; it’s that you don’t have the time or energy to do this kind of emotional keyhole surgery on every single person who comes at you on the internet, and there’s no point starting if you can’t commit to finishing it.

If you are going to minister to the damned souls of the internet, I agree that #4 should probably be #1: if someone’s working an angle, you’ll only make it worse by trying to engage. That includes scammers, spammers, propaganda bots, and also those who just want to use you as a prop for the drama they’re constructing around themselves.

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