Jake wrote a post on his blog about the hate wars that flame up with some regularity* targeting anyone with a known opinion, in this case, about self protection.
He makes the point that trolls are basically assholes, not interested in a debate, in 'truth', or in resolving any issues, and that they just troll for self aggrandizing purposes.
He also wishes for respect and politeness as a given. Reason even .... as the arbiter in adult conversation. Shocking ..... ;-)
His point is well made, and his wish for respect and polite behaviour cannot be faulted ... 'Do as you would have done unto you' ... and all that.
But ..... I think there is another angle to this, something that does not occur very often, and caused by an actor much rarer than the common or garden variety troll out in the interwebs, that is actually of benefit to us all.
As much as the common troll, looking to gain status from posturing, and with arguable no skin in the game (trolling as they do far from the reach of any repercussions), is a pointless waste of oxygen. The chaos monger, the angry, vitriolic, hater that comes from a place of fearlessness and purely a wish to 'see the world burn', should not be denied their game. Sometimes one needs an enemy, an advocate of the devil, an abyss, to stare into ....
Locking horns with these folks is rarely useful and best avoided, because, of course, they are not there to debate, or to come to an understanding, or be convinced they are wrong, BUT ...... being occasionally reminded of the walls of opposition that can be thrown across one's identity, one's ideas, one's work, is not a bad thing.
True, unselfconscious, not-for-the-benefit-of-others, push back, can sometimes be far more invigorating (like jumping into an icy lake) than a bunch of polite people, respectful, yet maybe thinking the worst behind curtained eyes.
At least with these crazy people you get to practice believing in your material, your self, your words, and your actions, perhaps even reevaluating if necessary, or testing where the robustness fails .... Not something that comes up as an issue if you are surrounded by decorum all the time. Trick is not to care about changing the mind of the person doing the hating. There really is no need or purpose to that.
Anger and rage focused in one's direction can be a gift ..... All true motivators are.
* - Perhaps the interval is predictable ...?
Theory: www.exploratorium.edu/complexity/CompLexicon/catastrophe.html As
an aside, I first heard about this watching a wonderful BBC TV programme
called Open University, which was usually on at weird times of the day, late at
night, or early on a Sunday morning, for those that wanted to study and
get a degree at home. That particular morning's programme featured 2 guys with
afros and heavy framed glasses, plaid flares and nylon shirts standing in front of a blackboard ... because it was
the 70s and they were talking about mathematics.
I was absolutely fascinated,
and seeing as I remember it to this day, 40 or so years on, well I guess
it left an impression.