Ignoring the Trolls to Death

2024 is a Presidential Election year. The trolls are already on the march.

How to be true to yourself without repeating or amplifying the lies you see in social media?

Rule #1: In the online world, do not comment or answer any post that is intended to spread a blatant falsehood.

That’s right! In real life, I generally recommend that you should strive to be the first person to object to a falsehood, microaggression, or other abuse of power. It is different on line. Any time that you comment on a post, more people see it. The more effective strategy is to smother the post by ignoring it. (That includes posts that are either untrue or unnecessarily inflammatory.)

What to do instead: 

First, take the topic to your platform. Your X account, your Facebook page, your blog, or website. Follow your instincts on this and be true to your values.

Do not bring links to the offensive post with you. You do not want to increase the eyes on those posts.

Use the truth sandwich to call out the falsehood without repeating it.

sandwichWhat is a truth sandwich, and how does it work?

The goal:

  • Don’t repeat the lie. Repetition makes it stronger.
  • Say the truth without room for argument or debate.
  • Repeat the truth twice to any reference to what the lie was about. (The “bread” in the “sandwich.”)

What not to do:

  • Don’t repeat the lie. That just advertises the falsehood.
  • Don’t try to refute it, fact for fact. This doesn’t work. Human brains question facts that don’t match our worldviews. (I’ve written about this).  When you try this, it often comes off as defensive.

Here’s an example that is currently in the news:

Suppose that there’s a post about the President being mentally incompetent. There have been a number of posts like that in the past few weeks. The lie is based on a remark taken out of context, originally written by someone who is not qualified to perform mental status exams. However, there is an underlying discontent among voters that both candidates are too old and cannot relate to a younger electorate.

Instead of jumping in and repeating the lie about Biden’s capacities, here is a way to neutralize the rhetoric and get back to the matter at hand: the 2024 election.

“Let’s look at the fearmongering that is flying around about the age of both presidential candidates. Joe Biden is 81. He was born in November, 1942. Donald Trump is 77. He was born in June, 1946. There is video available, on line, of both men flubbing words while speaking.

Both candidates are among the oldest men vying for this post. Both men are functionally the same age, although their experience in government is vastly different. Biden’s career in public service began when he was elected to the Senate in 1973. Trump held no other elected office besides serving as President from 2016-2020.

The weight of responsibility in this position is one of a manager. The job of the President is to oversee the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. That branch employs 3000-4000 people in the Executive Office of the President. It also houses the military; in so doing, it employs millions. The job involves managing a large staff with advice from an inner circle, namely the Cabinet and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (military).

A stable inner circle who advise the President goes a long way in supporting his ability to make decisions that affect our country. Look at the track record of Presidential appointments to the Cabinet and the Joint Chief of Staff. It will show who created the better work environment for the staff that are the backbone of White House policy and action.”

I am concerned about voter apathy in 2024. My response to derisive comments about the President’s age is intended to minimize the false narrative that he is not mentally up to the job. The response includes reasons why he is capable, and is more capable than his opponent. This is more effective than a flat-out denial, which will not be believed by anyone who has made up their minds about this.

Don’t feed the trolls. State the truth, over and over again.




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