Tension: Isolating Trolls and Keeping Your Voice

Two recommended communication techniques are to isolate trolls and to stick to your frame. These ideas are often in tension.

For example when neo-Nazis and white nationalists grab torches and march through our streets, you can isolate them and their supporters, or talk about institutionalized and unconscious bias — where we have a lot of work to do.

Isolating trolls means finding a way to remind the vast majority of Americans that we are all against people with swastikas, together, and perhaps reinforcing the idea a bit ahead of the current reality, proclaiming the world we want. It is a reasonable, achievable goal that any politician who associates with white nationalists, swastikas and domestic terrorists will be politically utterly ruined.

Speaking from your frame means calling out the existing racism and privilege and failure of most police departments to deal with institutionalized racism. Racism is a deeply entrenched disease in the US; there is a politically viable demographic that doesn’t see it yet, a giant education campaign .

On swastikas, we are not divided into two, and have to prevent that situation from getting worse. On institutionalized racism there is not a unified super-majority in agreement.

When discussing these issues especially online, it’s important whether you are speaking your position, or isolating a troll — and to do both, but not do both at the same time. When Trump associates with people who use the Nazi “blood and soil” chant, attack him from the center, attack him as an American — isolate him, for that moment don’t represent liberals or the left and press conservatives to feel aligned with him. When it is time to move forward, ignore Trump (don’t say “No” to his position), and proudly state what our country should be doing to move forward.

In social media, it is often a two-step process. Think of it as walking through a door: the first step is to open the door, countering outrageous politicians in a way that supermajorities will feel united with you. Then walk through it, being respectful and challenging and including ourselves in the group that needs to work for change.