ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Port: Don't feed the trolls, Drew

Internet trolls feed off attention. They make their hateful, disingenuous posts because they want to provoke a reaction. If you give them one, they win. The only way to beat them is to starve them for the attention they crave. Want them to shut up? Don't pay them the courtesy of a response.

Drew Wrigley
U.S. Attorney of North Dakota Drew Wrigley held a press conference Jan. 7, 2021, to announce numerous federal charges in what he calls a "wide-scale drug distribution enterprise" encompassing Spirit Lake, Turtle Mountain and Berthold Indian Reservations, with connections to Detroit, Michigan. Chris Flynn / The Forum
We are part of The Trust Project.

MINOT, N.D. — Our attorney general, Drew Wrigley, got into a Twitter tussle with some random troll after said troll disparaged one of his children.

Wrigley had posted about his daughter, Quinn, getting an internship in Sen. John Hoeven's office.

That led the Twitter troll to imply, baselessly, as Twitter trolls do, that the position was obtained through nepotism. And that set Wrigley off. He called the man a "dirtbag" and "gutless" and asked that he show up at Wrigley's office in the capitol to speak to his face.

Wrigley defended his response to the Bismarck Tribune , including calling the guy a "dirtbag."

"I've done this ever since I've been in public life when people call and leave a message on the answering machine at work and say what an idiot I am or whatever, and I always call them back and tell them they are free to ... come by and say to me in person, and I still have not had a person come by and do it," he told the Tribune.

ADVERTISEMENT

Tweets sent by North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley
Tweets sent by North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley to a man who disparaged his daughter.
Screenshot

Let me begin by saying that I get it.

Like Wrigley, I'm a father, and also something of a public figure. I am abused and disparaged on social media every day, and as long as the target is just me, that's fair game. I don't like it. Sometimes it even hurts. But you have to let it roll off your back.

MORE FROM ROB PORT
Local leaders shouldn't be on the hook for evaluating the national security implications of a Chinese-owned company building a corn milling plant.

Go after one of my kids, though? That's a good way to see me lose my temper.

You, a proud father, make a post about a proud moment involving your daughter and Mr. Twitter Troll rains on your parade, using your achievements to belittle hers.

It would be infuriating, but here's the thing: Your response, if you're going to make one, should be proportional, and going nuclear on a social media nincompoop with 60 followers is not proportional.

Understandable, as every parent reading this will agree, but ultimately not a good idea.

Internet trolls feed off attention. They make their hateful, disingenuous posts because they want to provoke a reaction. If you give them one, they win. The only way to beat them is to starve them for the attention they crave.

Want them to shut up? Don't pay them the courtesy of a response.

ADVERTISEMENT

Wrigley's mistake wasn't in being angry about what this guy said. It was giving him the time of day.

Had Wrigley not responded to this guy, nobody would have noticed what he said, because nobody really cares what Random Twitter Guy thinks about Quinn Wrigley's accomplishments.

As for the suggestion of nepotism? I am certain that Drew's relationship with John Hoeven helped Quinn in this process. I'm certain Hoeven has met Quinn himself, as I have, and seen what a bright, talented, and capable young woman she is.

If he made the hiring decision based on that, so what?

Cry me a river, Twitter Rando.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
What to read next
The five freedoms in the First Amendment have powered the nation’s long, divisive debate over the incredibly personal and societal issue of abortion — and may well be how we frame its future.
Salonen writes, "While in the midst of wedding season, it seems a good time to review this foundational truth."
"The cool, dreary May meant that we kept pushing back our planting until it was a good week or two past the point we would have liked to have seeds and plants in the ground. But the weather warmed up, and we certainly haven't been dealing with drought."
Shaw writes, "Women in North Dakota are probably feeling safe because the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, the only abortion clinic in the state, will move to neighboring Moorhead. That’s because abortion will remain legal in next door Minnesota. Sorry to say, things can change."