Who Knows How to Handle Jerks?

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by Neil Godfrey

In a former life many years ago I learned was taught a great lesson by a junior girl in another part of our work area who had to process some of our work outputs. She was obviously being driven mad by our failure to follow some simple procedures we’d no doubt been told to apply many times before, so she sent us all an email that began, “Naughty cataloguers,  . . . ” That introduction was so disarming, it set us all in a positive frame of mind to meekly accept the “blasting” that came our way in a form of collegial correction.

We weren’t trolls or vicious jerks but that lesson came to mind again when I read the following news item: Twitch viewers harassed Aussie streamer PaladinAmber. She clapped back in the best way

The first time she called someone out happened by accident.

“Everyone just went crazy. They were like ‘this is exactly what we want on the news’. And I was like, we can absolutely do this every time,” she said.

“Comedy is the best way to deal with this because people will really prefer a slap on the wrist better if it comes with a giggle.”

There’s proof in the pudding too. Wadham says some of the trolls have even apologised after being called out.

. . . .

“I didn’t think people would appreciate somebody being so outspoken and obnoxiously loud about it,” she said.

“It’s [trolling] such a common occurrence. To have so many people going ‘oh yeah me too, but I wouldn’t say anything so thank you’, it’s just a little bit humbling.”

While it’s worked for her, Wadham is adamant no-one should have to confront online harassment like this if they don’t feel equipped to do so.

Dr Raynes-Goldie agreed, and highlighted how tricky it can be to push back.

“How do you make change in the world but also take care of yourself? Because it’s quite exhausting,” she said.

For Wadham, it’s by shining a light on the worst behaviour on the internet, one fake infomercial or breaking news segment at a time.

And all of that leads to this:

How to Beat Donald Trump

When will the Democrats realize that Donald Trump’s Twitter rants create an opportunity to stop his drive to become our Emperor? It’s an opportunity the Democrats (and the few Never Trump Republicans) squander every time they respond with moral outrage.
The opportunity is to mock Trump, which will goad him into ever more crazy behavior. In turn, that will eat away at the facade that got him into the White House.

. . . . . 

By going into high dudgeon when Trump starts a tweetstorm, the Democrats only deepen Trump’s ties to these voters. Their smug responses virtually force news organizations into pointless “is he, or isn’t he, a racist” coverage.

Trump wins this game because he designed it. He decides when to move the pieces. He writes the rules. His task is to get his critics and opponents to alienate voters, driving them to him. He’s good at his own game.

A Better Game

A smarter strategy? Stop playing Donald’s game. Stop being reactive. Start making Trump play your game. Instead, learn to be political entrepreneurs—see a need and fill it.

Democrats should create their own game, one where America wins by goading Donald into ever crazier conduct. How? By forcing him to deal with what he cannot stand—poking fun at his foibles. He doesn’t know how to respond to a smart one-liner, a well-crafted joke, a disarming parody.

Let’s call this new game Fun With Donald. The keys to winning are humor and class.

I don’t know if I’m very good at humour. I mean, I know I have a lively sense of humour when people at work so often remark on it and it doesn’t come out very often when I’m writing serious stuff. (On occasion I do resort to irony or puns or tongue in cheek but I don’t think many readers notice: no voice inflections or facial expressions to alert the audience to what they’re hearing.) And I have found it easier to simply delete and ban jerks. Maybe I could do better. But as Dr Raynes-Goldie above pointed out, it’s not easy for most people.

Anyway, I tried to think about how one might respond to the following:

Maybe respond with something along the lines of treating Trump’s comment as a “genuine” expression of concern and part of an interest in taking positive action to fix the problems. . . . Humour has to come spontaneously, though, surely. As Clayton appears to suggest, this is the time to fall in behind the clowns, the king’s fools, the comedians, the limerick master.

(From Wikipedia)
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Neil Godfrey

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8 thoughts on “Who Knows How to Handle Jerks?”

  1. Sorry, you lost me at “junior girl”. Really??? In 2019!!…unless the “girl” was 12 or younger (let’s say 12-17 is a “young woman” and over 17 is a woman) this is really insulting. Would you call a young man of 18-20 a “boy”?

    1. Junior in job status, though also very young! It applied equally to a male in the same position! 🙂 (Informal, yes, but that’s fine here. Walking in to an area where men worked at desks, “Good morning, boys!” Another day, “Good morning, men/gentlemen/team. . . ” Cheery good-mornings back. Then there was another room where the team that happened to be all women, aged from a teen to mid-60s; “Good morning, girls!”, or such, eliciting the same response. — Another day I might say “Good morning, ladies/team….” That wasn’t a constant, though, since at times girls female women would join a team that had hitherto been only boys male men. We welcomed the mix.) But in an environment that you are more familiar that would frown upon such terms being applied to anyone over 12 years of age I most definitely would not speak of “girls” or “boys” at the workplace! I think I have proven to be adaptable over the years in different cultures.

      Do recall my post on the introduction of a Thai nurse in a Bangkok hospital: https://vridar.org/2019/06/19/they-do-things-differently-here-more-on-thailand-visit/

      1. Thanks for the clarification. Now I get what you were saying.
        PS – I love Vridar, am very glad I found it.
        Question: is there a story behind the name Vridar?

        1. For the name Vridar see the About Vridar page. The blog used to have the following graphic in its header, a little touch that I miss though it surely meant zilch to most readers — covers of most of Vardis Fisher’s Testament of Man series of novels.

    2. And this is how you will get more Trump. By taking one offhand comment from a (presumed) ally of yours, and scolding him for it, instead of making light of it.
      Personally I don’t want to beat Trump. I am glad of Trump. He is mocking the Puritans.

  2. You’re right, mockery is the best tool. I’ve never bothered replying directly to the Orange Stain, but when I see a MAGA spouting utter nonsense I have one sure-fire line: “How’s the weather in Moscow today, Yuri?”

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