With the huge amounts of money being pumped into Correct The Record shills for Hillary Clinton, you can be pretty sure you are coming across paid trolls on the daily now.
The budget was recently increased from $1 million to $6.3 million, so if you are at all active politically online, you will come across a shill.
I wrote at length recently about how you recognize them and what are some of their current strategies, but what do you do when you encounter one?
Well, you can’t react in a normal way. They are armed for that. That’s exactly what they want, and that’s their territory. Don’t give them a fight. Own them.
1. Don’t Fight With Facts
I know. That hurts. You’re so well-versed and so well-educated and they are so very wrong. They link to articles with sensational headlines, but if you read them (and they hope you won’t) it’s always a half-truth, and the other half of the truth renders their point null and void.
So why not educate them? And surely the people reading along should know that that link was misleading too, right?
I totally get it. But hear me out.
One of their key strategies to help Hillary as outlined in the DNC emails is to bog people down in the details. For example, if you were to describe Hillary as “hawkish,” most normal people will agree with you because an overview of her voting record and past history would indicate that she enjoys a good war as much as the next warmonger.
A shill will deliberately take that into detail, and point out one instance when she was not pro-war. I don’t know where they would get one, but remember, it’s their job, they’re paid to do it, so they will put in the time and find something, and they will have it ready to copy/paste.
If you engage that, you’re on the back foot already. They’ve got you squinting your eyes, looking at an individual instance of which they are already the expert, and they’ve drawn you into their strange reality tunnel. You will end up arguing over a tiny piece of nothing, get bogged down in facts, and have totally lost sight of your initial point, especially if you were just using “hawkish” as a descriptor, and your real point was something else entirely.
2. The Art Of Gentle Mockery
A sweet “Lol!” at the right moment when a shill has let loose with two barrels works remarkably well. “Pfft” or “Yeah… nah :)” or “Darrell dear, you are having bad luck with thinking tonight” are the kinds of things you can say without getting roped into a long, time-consuming argument while making it clear that their information is bogus.
Remember, your time and attention is very valuable. You want to protect it. Don’t use it on them. We need your creativity going toward our new future, not humoring someone whose sole job it is to distract you.
3. Sound The Alarm
Call them out. Just say “You are a troll.” That works surprisingly well.
If you see them engaging someone else and you want to bring it to a dead stop, interjecting with something like “Wow Darrell, you’re really earning your 30 cents tonight! That sure is a lot of talking points. Do you get paid by the post, or by the comment?” or something similar can alert everyone on the thread who is earnestly trying to help him that their time is being deliberately wasted by naughty Darrell.
4. Give Them A “What Am I Doing With My Life?” Moment
I mean, someone should, right? What a sad thing to be doing with your precious time on earth. You’ve got this amazing brain, and you’ve turned it to helping a few rich people take more money and power for themselves while destroying people’s lives and the planet in the process. It’s only compassion to point that out. That must take its toll on the rest of their life, even if they’re not aware of the direct correlation. You can’t do that much damage without some karmic kickback.
Be the one who gives them that moment. Even if they aren’t a shill, a little chiding never goes astray. Being an unpaid shill needs to be called out, too, even if they’re totally unaware that they’re regurgitating the Correct The Record talking points that real shills brainwashed them with. I mean, they’re doing the same thing but not even getting paid!
I’d go with something like this.
“Are you a shill? No? Because seriously, you sound just like a shill. So, if you’re not a shill, you’re doing this pro-bono then? Ha! Wow. Dude, you should at least get paid. Well, I guess everyone needs a hobby… Hey Darrell, do you ever wake up in the morning and think ‘Dear God, what am I doing with my life? Why am I spending all my time helping rich people get richer? And bullying poor people and those who help them?’ Has that ever crossed your mind Darrell? I’m not suggesting you should question your choices, but maybe you should question your choices, you know what I’m saying? Maybe spending all your time online being an unpaid sandwich-board guy for the one-percent is a choice you should examine, I dunno, I’m just thinking out loud here” etc. You get the drift. Play with it.
But don’t get too serious, you’re not their mother, either. Be funny, chide them, tickle them on the belly, tell them they’re naughty and wrong, but don’t take them seriously. They want you to get triggered and wound up. If you’re quietly giggling at their antics, they can’t get a foot-hold.
Memes are great. A quick Google will come up with something funny, true, and exactly what you want to say. Use them liberally. Keep favorites onhand, and go looking for them often. They’re quicker and more effective than any block of text, and you can fire one off and move on with your life.
Because remember, the whole game of these guys is to bog you down and get you fighting, with them, and with each other. Ask yourself — why are they doing that? Well, if we’re busy fighting each other over the meaning of the word “hawkish,” we’re not collaborating to get our own people in office, get our cool ideas out there and circulating, enthusing with our friends and family about the future we’re building, and creatively moving towards our goals with inspired action.
So that’s how you really fight shills — not in hand-to-hand combat, but by collaborating with like-minded people in an inspired way, riffing ideas and enjoying each other, building each other up while we take one step after the other toward the society that we want to live in. We must wrest back control of the planet, which means taking control of the narrative. That means building our own story of what we want and how we are getting it.
In the end, all they want is to stop a movement. Just keep the movement going. We’re like a rocket ship trying to launch from a swamp. The shills are the vines and bog monsters gripping on to the sides of the ship trying to keep us in the swamp. We can get out of our ship and argue with all of them, picking them off one by one, or we can all just get in the ship and blast off, frying them in our wake.
Time to blast off. Let’s go.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]