Occasionally we find our NFTOS email loaded with infested crap from republican trolls. If you're somehow unfamiliar with the term, think of a troll as the drunk who pushes his way into your barroom conversation. The proverbial turd in the punchbowl, in the rather unlikely case there's a proverb out there about turds and punchbowls. You get the picture.
NFTOS' email trolls tend to be radical teapublicans of varying stripes, their intent is disruption. From the blunt-force troll with little to say - that's not of the four-letter word variety to the benevolent troll who stops by to lecture everyone on the best practices of blog management. Trolls are very annoying.
But why stay annoyed when you can have fun instead? Make lemonade out of lemons readers. Trolls are an everyday reminder that someone, somewhere, disagrees with what you're saying and considers it important enough to respond to. So stand proud, progressives! They hate us. They really, really hate us.
Benevolent right-wing trolls are often as predictable as their more vulgar fellow travelers. First, they inject themselves into a debate, posing as "independent thinkers". Then they regurgitate well-worn out talking points that reveal them to be anything but nonpartisan. Once unmasked as right-wingers, the benevolent troll's saga usually ends in two ways. Neither, as you could imagine, are pretty.
Often the troll resorts to name-calling and baseless assertions, despite the fact they at first appeared to be "above the fray". Then, when confronted, they disappear completely without a peep. When confronted, they email one last jeremiad about how there's too much negativity on the site and they're leaving, never to read our blog again, because they've got better things to do. Only they brought the negativity. Only they don't have better things to do. They've decided to stop slumming and, I'm guessing, return to the Algonquin Round Table from whence they came.
While benevolent trolls are annoying, they're also rare. Most common are the blunt-force trolls, the commenter's with absolutely nothing to add. They leave intellect and proper grammar behind. All they bring is invective garbage. You could be a former member of the armed services with combat experience critiquing the current Secretary of Defense. But to them, you're a peace-loving hippie bastard with a latte in one hand and a joint in the other.
No matter who you are or what you say, you somehow fit into their image of liberalism. Pounding square pegs into round holes are their best skills, because their worldview has been so scrubbed, sanitized and simplified that even the most complex issues have been reduced to radical insane arguments.
If you're lucky, these temporary tough guys rarely metastasize into the third type of pest. Like a dope-sick junkie who can't resist any longer, relapsing trolls frequently fall off of the wagon and return to their old progressive haunts.
Let's not fool ourselves. If you're going to advocate for change, there are always going to be naysayers out there who will fight you, tooth-and-nail, to reverse that progress. Is it worth it to debate them? Absolutely, but remember to keep your eyes on the prize, not the cesspool from where your teapublican friends are slinging mud. Besides, if what you're saying is having that kind of effect among right-wingers, you've got to be doing something right.