Why it’s important to roar at the trolls on Twitter

Posted on March 24, 2016

 

Whether you use Twitter for drumming up new business, or for looking at pictures of cats, you can’t help but notice how there’s a lot of aggression on the microblogging platform – especially following a tragic event. This week saw the latest in a long line of terrorist attacks take place on mainland Europe, this time in the Belgian capital of Brussels. As ever, following one of these awful attacks, Twitter was awash with people using the atrocities to push their own political agenda, or just to troll others with their offensive views.

The hashtag #StopIslam started trending once again, as ill-educated people equated a religion with a terrorist group. Thankfully, Twitter is as densely populated with tolerant people as it is with xenophobes, and the hashtag was quickly hijacked to reverse its meaning and mock those attempting to suggest that Islam was behind the attacks.

Twitter user Lexi Alexander summed it all up nicely:

However, where there is intelligent comment and consideration, there is also bigotry and idiocy. Regular dumbinatrix, Katie Hopkins waded in with her own brand of hatred designed solely to shine attention on herself and annoy as many people as possible when she commented how the terrorist attacks were because of refugees. Brussels resident, Benjamin Bollen, retorted with:

Benjamin’s beautifully crafted response has, at time of writing, generated almost 12,000 retweets and has earned him several newspaper articles from such papers as The Independent*. The attention he has gained for his tweet, although not something he was seeking, as risen his Twitter profile to new heights, ensuring many more people are aware of him than were before the start of this week.

Now, before anyone suggests it, I’m not saying you should use global tragedies as ways of growing your brand awareness. No, that’s what Katie Hopkins is doing. What I am saying is you should use Twitter to add a degree of intelligent debate to the world. All that is required for evil to succeed is for good men (and women) to do nothing. Twitter is already awash with aggression, vitriol and hate speech – it needs those with understanding to counter the noise.

Going a stage further, it needs those with understanding and passion to take on the racists and expose their opinions for what they are. Benjamin Bollen’s putdown of Katie Hopkins attracted a lot of attention, and made even more people aware of the awful things she was saying and why they were wrong. If you don’t challenge what people say, they’ll only receive interaction from those who agree with them and they’ll believe what they’re saying is both acceptable and correct. While challenging them might not be enough to make them realise what they’re saying is wrong, it will, at least, make them realise that a great many people disagree with them. Of course, you’ll often find that people who hold the sort of extremist views held by Katie Hopkins aren’t capable of understanding a different argument.

If you’ve ever interacted with a Donald Trump supporter about firearms, you’ll know exactly what I mean. The fact that Kinder Eggs are banned in the USA because they’re considered dangerous to children, and firearms are legal, is almost too absurd for satire. Yet it is true, and the firearms supporters in the US will fervently argue it’s correct.

This is why you must take to Twitter and engage with the xenophobes, the racists, the bigots, the trolls – the Katie Hopkinses of this world. You must let them know their views are unacceptable and they won’t be allowed to spread their hate speech unchallenged.

Phew… that was a bit political wasn’t it?

Darren Jamieson

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 15 years’ experience in these fields.

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