I’m glad to learn more about how troll farms and white nationalist recruitment work and will keep that in mind when interacting with people on-line. There are definitely some people who are an obvious “no” for attempting to have a conversation, but I’ve also had some good and meaningful conversations and connections with guys who started out butting heads with me. In many cases, real bridges were eventually built. J Apple Muncy is actually one of those. He and I had many fairly heated discussions before finally finding a place of greater understanding.
The bell hooks book that he referenced is one that learned about in an article where I quoted from it. I won’t speak on his behalf, but I think that something finally clicked that women who were talking about their lives were not discounting the very real hardships that men also face in our society. Putting in the time and effort to continue to have those conversations was something that I’m very glad I did because only by actually talking to each other can we get out of our more entrenched positions.
And, I never considered him a troll (although once I wrote about a conversation with one and he asked if I was referring to him) but we had some pretty seemingly non-productive conversations there for a while and I’m not sure that most people would have considered it to be worthwhile. I’m glad we both stuck it out though and that we’ve both seemed to have learned from each other.
So, no to trolls and manufactured rage for the purposes of incitement or recruitment and yes to having empathy for real pain and confusion that is taking place in this time of shift and seeing when that is what is underneath some of the anger.