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.
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.
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.
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.
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.