Trolls on Facebook

I often get asked why I don’t block more people on Facebook.

I don’t block many people. My days as a journalist taught me the value of a free exchange of ideas. The primary reason I block anyone is if they consistently mock me or other commenters without adding anything to the discussion. Other than establishing that I’m an asshole, that doesn’t add anything to the discussion. Everyone already knows I’m an asshole, duh.

I will occasionally chide commenters for getting too personally abusive in their comments, but I don’t do it very often. I don’t spend enough time there to police comments.

Naturally, this happens only on posts about politics.

But to the point, yes, there are commenters that question why I haven’t blocked a few of my Facebook friends. A case in point is in this thread:

His BS and cowardice are so predictable.

Posted by John Robinson on Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Don is not a bot; he exists. We’ve met. Others I haven’t met but I know they are people in my hometown.

Are they trolls? I think so. From Wikipedia, “a troll is a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive,[1]extraneous, or off-topic messages … with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses and normalizing tangential discussion.”

I don’t block them, though, because they aren’t abusive to others. They simply attempt to sidetrack the conversation; or they make points that have little basis in fact. Meanwhile, in a separte thread, other commenters usually take their comments apart. And the reasonable conversation goes on in the main comment thread.

For me, they are also a guilty pleasure. They discussions with them are entertaining, in the way that a cat is entertained by toying with a caught mouse.

For the record, I have openly declared myself a troll.