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Trick or Tweet: (T)rolling with the punches

I’m not usually one for Twitter. I don’t see the point in getting heavily involved in debates with people you’ll never meet about things you’ve never really cared about – whether it’s okay to eat marshmallows on the eve of a blood moon (Answer: every day’s a marshmallow day!); how many doughnuts is too many doughnuts (Answer: Roughly eleventy-seven); which Kardashian would be the most buoyant if they fell into the middle of the Atlantic (Answer: Actually, this is something we should definitely investigate…).

But a few days ago I fell into the Twitter trap. I saw a ludicrously skewed political tweet, and I tumbled down the rabbit hole. Yes, oddbuds, I awakened the Twitter Zealot. At first, I gave myself an assured pat on the back for my finely crafted retort – surely, fellow Twitterers (Tweeters? Twitchers? Twonks?) could not fail to be impressed by my wordplay? Erm… nah. Turns out zealots are not fans of refined composition. In fact, they don’t seem to be particular fans of sophisticated rhetoric at all – who knew?

Anyway, the point is, I was swiftly trolled by a little gang of right-wing individuals. (I say ‘swiftly’; they’re actually still sending me little love notes now, three days later. I can’t fault their tenacity!) Now, I’ve never been trolled before, so it’s been rather a novel experience. I’ve never thought too deeply about online bullying (and let’s be honest; trolling definitely falls under this category, no matter how much your average troll will insist it’s ‘just banter’), but I’ve always figured the best way to deal with it is to not engage. Don’t feed the troll, don’t read their messages – or only read them if you’re sure you can handle it. After all, we know rationally that these people are strangers, right? They know nothing about you, so their opinions are baseless and irrelevant. So on that basis, you can read their tweets and comments and come away unscathed… Right?

Wrong. I picked up my phone, ready to be amused and aloof, untouched by any illogical, irrational nonsense anyone could throw at me – maybe I could actually have a good laugh at how pathetic people can be online? But I didn’t laugh. I actually felt wounded at the responses. Genuinely hurt, affronted and, yes, bloody pissed off.

” Look at her, she can’t help it.”

Apparently, the Chief Zealot has a special power: she is able to divine from someone’s profile photo (i.e. the photo at the top of this page) that they are stupid, delusional and absurd (her words, not mine). Quite a skill, I’m sure you’ll agree! Now, I’ll plead inexperience when I admit to you that I fed the troll. I pointed out how illogical it is to presume that someone’s face can serve as an accurate IQ reader etc. Funnily enough, she didn’t agree. She devolved quite quickly, hurling memes around like a pro. Then she went with this gem:

“Are you still talking? I’m sorry but I’m not a jackass whisperer.”

My final tweet (I know! I was so wound up, I just couldn’t let it lie!) was as follows: “I cannot emphasize enough just how cretinous your tweets are at this point. The irony!” I then prised the phone out of my own cold hands and managed to give Twitter a wide berth. I am the bigger person. I am the bigger person. I am the bigger person. This is my new mantra, and yes, I do say it with gritted teeth, but I am desperate to win this fight!

I returned to Twitter this evening to get the above quotes verbatim, and unfortunately the ‘conversation’ still appears to be ongoing. Yes, Chief Zealot really dug deep for this one:

“I cannot emphasize enough just how cretinous your face is at this point. It’s #vomitworthy!”

Pathetic? Yes. Childish? Certainly. Did I reply, telling her that her face is “como un burro”? Well… I had to literally sit on my hands to prevent myself responding, but no, I did not. And I know that I’ll be lying in bed tonight with possible smart retorts swirling around my brain. But I’m resolute – I’m not going to dignify this puerile bullshit with another response.

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