Does anybody ever think that their trolls are all the same person, taking on different personalities? Recently, I asked this guy to stop posting endless quibbles on my blog, and he had a little hissy fit. He claims he will never visit me again. I sort of doubt this — he will visit me in one form or another, because he seems to have made it his life’s mission to harass me. This is why I suspect he is someone else, who I actually know: I think he has a lot of online personae, including a female one, and he thinks he is just too clever to be caught.
Why did I ask him to stop? Because there is nothing — absolutely nothing — I can write about without him (and I assume it is a him, but who knows? People change gender on the internet like snakes change skins) arguing with me. Currently, he is a pipeline for a lot of anti-Obama claptrap; he also has a Horowitzean tendency to go on and on about the liberal conspiracy in the academy. But these things he could write about on his own blog: why use mine? And why engage with me, unless he has personal reasons for doing so?
I could write about Fred Flintstone and he would find a way to get back to the idea that Barack Obama is a socialist, or that I am a Bear of Very Little Brain. Or asking me to “prove” this or that, while posting all kinds of nonsense himself. Or, when I refuse to engage his nonsense, citing this as “proof” of my intellectual inferiority. Ugh.
So why did I ask him to stop posting? Because he is not the audience I am interested in, and he discourages comments from the readers I care about by making my comments section a volatile, dangerous place for other bloggers who just want to talk and write, not fight or defend themselves. Another time when I had an attack of trolls a very diverse crowd of commenters, many of whom were anonymous, simply vanished. I think they don’t want this person on their blog, particularly since conservative zealots (not to be confused with regular conservative bloggers who have manners) are well known for targeting people by writing horrible things to colleagues, university officers and trustees, as part of their mission to cleanse the academy. This would be a disaster for an untenured person who is writing pseudonymously: am I right kids? Check in anonymously and say so if I am.
In any case, from here on out, I will delete comments from anyone who appears to be picking a fight just to hijack the blog: picking a fight is not the same as disagreeing, and if you don’t understand the difference, ask me. Fair warning and invitations to communicate off the blog will be given before the deletion policy goes into effect. People who are real — as opposed to anonymous or pseudonymous — may be invited into dialogue of a different kind on the blog itself concerning issues likely to produce new ideas, as opposed to “he said-she said” exchanges.
But my writing is too important to me to allow cowardly, mean people who hide behind pseudonyms, to waste my time, particularly hysterical folk on the right who are seeing their ideological world go down in flames and want to take the rest of us with it.