I want to urge you to be for and not against. You may think there is no distinction here -- that being for and against are basically two sides of the same coin, but you’d be utterly mistaken, as I’ll explain. The emotions catalyzed by being against are much different from the emotions sparked by being for. Being against can involve cynicism (we are powerless to change the system), anger (the people on the “for” side are evil and we hate them), jealousy (the elitist “for” folks all went to Ivy League colleges and I dropped out of high school), insecurity (I can’t change and why should I), and worse.
Be for because you are coming from a more positive, constructive place. You have a sense of how you want the world to be, which means you’ll need to have a sense of who you are first. Those on the for side will be more integrated, using their self-awareness and influence to make changes in the wider world, while those on the against side are feeling insecurities and fears (negative emotions) around the prospects of change. Guess what trolls? The world is ever-changing and you are acting as if it isn’t changing. Your trolling is an effort to protect a fragile ego and insecurities about your own (in)ability to change. Damaging and blowing up those who are for will not save you or protect your ego or your illusions about how the world should be (fear-based and insecure). The world is ever-changing, so get used to it or get out of the way: I’m trying to be compassionate here, to understand your motivations even though I don’t share them.
My advice from the soapbox? Don’t waste your energy being against, be for. Tap into your own self-awareness, your generosity and compassion for the world. Try not to say you’re “against” racism and misogyny and brutality. Say that you’re a passionate, graciously persistent supporter of human dignity and inclusion -- and things like gender equity and equal opportunity in employment and support for civility are simply part of this wider, all-encompassing, inclusionary agenda. Build community around values by being for, not some troll in a parental basement.
I don’t spend my time and energy tearing down things and people. We need to build -- first ourselves, then the small community around us, and then perhaps building out to the wider world (November is coming, people). Trolls have no impact except to trip up and damage vulnerable, trollable builders.
I tell people, constantly, to be less trollable. I’m trying to be less trollable myself. What helps is prioritizing and strengthening the better impulses within yourself, and looking for positive examples offered by others around you. Even when I look at suffering, and the world is filled with suffering, I know there are people trying to help, to connect, to share, to place balm upon the wounds. Look at those people helping (healing wounds rather than inflicting them) and appreciate those impulses in yourself.
I am trying always to move from generous impulse to generous action, from the thought of helping to actually helping. And yes, I know that when I help others I also help myself, and that sometimes I need the help of others too. Self-care and care for others are inseparable, at least for me, and balancing the two is dynamic and constantly urgent. I suspect it's the same for you, dear reader. None of us are purely good or purely evil: as poet Walt Whitman once wrote: "Do I contradict myself? So I contradict myself. I am large and contain multitudes." We all do.
I notice that when I nurture the generous impulses within myself, when I do things to restore myself and be happier, I also want to help others. Perhaps this means that helping and connecting are paths to happiness for me, and I believe firmly that helping and connecting would be a path to happiness for many of us. I don’t know you, but I suspect that you and I share many of the same struggles and hopes. When I say be for and not against, I’m asking you to nurture your own generosity and imagination, to build the skills of influence and connection that can bring about positive changes in the world (and God knows we need positive changes in the world right now). Embrace, don't negate.
And I don’t loathe the troll, though I loathe what the troll is trying to do -- to stop change, to embrace and spread fear and insecurity (two toxins in plentiful supply within the troll heart), to gaslight those with purpose and passion. Part of being “for” is learning to be less trollable, because the troll is out to expose your vulnerabilities. It may help if you can see the troll as a fear-based and insecure person (they are) and the “for person” as someone coming from a place of hope and (possibly) love, but struggling nonetheless with fear and insecurity (we all do this). We all share the emotional insecurities of the troll and also the positive attributes of the person passionately for. It’s up to each of us to decide which impulses to favor: hope or fear.
I offer this final thought with hope in my heart and a view towards the long-term betterment of our species and our planet: we should be moving towards the light and away from the darkness. May God help us, but may we help ourselves too.