Trolls are exhausting, but eternal. They are like lice, like parasites. When I try to imagine them, in my mind they appear like something slimy, moderately stinky, and thoroughly repulsive.
It appears that they come from nowhere; they insult and ridicule, then they move rapidly back into the darkness, awaiting another appropriate opportunity to attack and to harm.
Like rat droppings, they leave their toxic comments at the bottom of the RT reports, and all over other great, often non-Western media outlets. The better the reports, the more vicious their assaults are. Trolls are particularly ‘outraged’ by those writers who are managing to effectively deconstruct the main official narratives erected by the US and UK propagandist gurus.
Their comments range from: “The author must have been drunk when he wrote the article”, to the much more elaborate, ‘analytical’ slurs. You know that you are dealing with a troll, when some stereotypical catch phrase pops up: “I am shocked that the RT is now droppings its standards, by using such low-quality reporting”.
There are iPad revolutionaries among them, or some individuals, defined in some countries such as Eritrea as “useful idiots”. Useful to the Empire, of course!
Most of trolls are ‘politically correct’. They try to get you, by the linguistic standards created by the Empire. You slip and they are at your throat. You lose your temper, calling someone names in the middle of the battle, and they bury their dirty teeth right into your flesh.
Trolls repeat, over and over again, that you are not what you claim that you really are.
You may go from one war-zone to another, from one misery created by the Empire to another; you may be exhausted, covered in filth, hardly alive. But they will call you ‘an armchair revolutionary’.
Unless you become some sort of a bizarre character, a Mother Teresa with boots, Leica and professional camcorder, they will smash you for being a hypocrite. Of course the best would be, if you could instantly die, vanish!
They study you. If you smash back at them, they will remind everyone that you stayed in a good hotel, here or there, or that you stayed in some war-zone for ‘too short time’, and therefore you are a actually a coward.
They study you and they know, or are told, where it hurts. Then they pin their needles exactly into those sensitive, unhealed spots of yours.
They never do it in order to improve the world, or to make us perform better. They only do it to break us, to make us suffer, to put us, so to speak, ‘out of service’.
Most of us that have covered the infinite wars, conflicts, misery and revolutions; carry a terrible baggage on our shoulders. We all think, often, during those dark, endless nights, what could we have done better, more effectively.
Most of us are alone, during such moments. And then the bloody trolls come.
Like, after Mosul and Lebanon, and right before Eritrea, I finally realized what it really meant that Ms. Serena Shim died, most likely murdered. We covered the same story, about the West training the Syrian opposition in Turkish and Jordanian refugee camps… She did it for Press TV; I did it for Telesur and others. She died, but I survived.
I cried for her. Not right away, but later… After Iraq…
Then a troll appeared.
“You are fake”, the troll said.
I did the most stupid thing one could do, because I was exhausted and therefore vulnerable: I engaged with a troll, trying to explain, to defend myself.
That is when I was called an “armchair revolutionary”.
“If I am, then who is not?” I asked.
“Serena Shim”, came the answer.
Of course, I have almost died on some 20 occasions, but I always survived… Even after being tortured, even after being condemned to death on three different occasions. But I survived, while Serena Shim died.
That day, I finally felt like dropping everything, cancelling Eritrea, and just burying myself in the Japanese countryside, writing my 1000-page novel.
Trolls 1: Vltchek 0.
But then I thought: “it”, is just a troll. Eritrea needs me.
I was aching all over that night, flying from Beirut to Asmara via Cairo.
It has become clear that the carefully chosen words of trolls can do more damage than an entire battalion of enemy forces.
Trolls are constantly attacking me; but they also, of course, attack Pepe Escobar, Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, John Pilger and the others who are systematically uncovering the crimes against humanity, committed by the Empire.
They are viciously attacking those mainstream thinkers and investigative journalists, who finally chose to listen to their consciences, who resigned in disgust, who switched sides. Those people like my friend Andrew Marshall, the former head of Reuters in Iraq, who resigned from that press agency after a moral dispute over the coverage of Thailand (Reuters refused to publish his shocking findings about the elites and the monarchy in ‘the land of the smiles’).
Trolls are capable of tarnishing the reputation of such dissidents, by spreading shallow and groundless, but extremely well-fabricated lies about them. They are able to and fully willing to ruin the lives of people. They are always ready! The more decent and brave the people are – their victims – the more excited the trolls get, the more they salivate in anticipation of a revolting feast.
Periodically, they even attack those who are still part of the establishment, if ‘forbidden subjects’ are touched on, like the murderous regimes supported by the West – those installed in Rwanda or Uganda, or even in Kenya, Indonesia, Thailand, Egypt, Bahrain or Turkey.
Many trolls are paid. The great Uruguayan writer and thinker, Eduardo Galeano, once described them to me as: “These people… nobody knows who pays them, and they wouldn’t tell”.
But some trolls are actually ‘volunteers’, spontaneous busybodies, who are unable to write coherent essays, but who are skillful enough to produce a few truly insulting sentences and attach them, as ‘comments’, at the bottom of other people’s work.
Many trolls are actually very sad characters. They are mediocre, they have no future, and they suffer from an inferiority complex. They are cowards! They have failed in whatever they have tried to do, and therefore, they hate – barking is all that they have left.
They have their favorite bases where they flock together. Apart from the logical bastions in both North America and Western Europe, they enjoy several sunny but ruined spots like West and East Africa, Southeast Asia, Costa Rica, the Gulf States, but also some chillier places, including Eastern Europe and Hong Kong.
There are, of course, professional right-wing ideological cadres that do the heavy-duty smearing.
All one has to do is some serious work for the Russian RT, or Venezuelan Telesur, the Iranian Press TV or Chinese CCTV, and your stuff is most likely to be attacked in this manner:
“So an individual who contributes to Russian state media was given a very rare media permission for Eritrea and is now tweeting nonsense.”
The above comment comes from a very ‘legitimate source’, from a real pro, not from any odd secret and pathetic troll. The author is the @businessinsider’s national security and military editor.
Smearing is now an entire and huge industry in the West. It forms an integral part of the ideological combat, or you may choose to call it the global ideological onslaught of the Western propaganda apparatus.
Millions of cadres/apparatchiks in North America and Europe are busy working, day and night, on destroying opposition to the Empire. They are all over the official corporate media, as well as in academia and all sorts of think tanks and ‘NGO’s’.
Academic degrees in certain fields are, these days, almost synonymous with terms like ‘collaboration with fascism’ and ‘betrayal of humanity’.
But academic smearing and the attacks from mass media are not what this essay is addressing today. Academics and journalists are ‘professional’ propagandists, many of whom were educated and groomed by the Empire from an early age, through scholarships, funding and recruitment.
What we are putting in the spotlight today are those little trolls; little shits, those tiny psychological gangsters, who are trying to break people – fighters against the Empire – through their petty but relentless insults, and personal attacks.
Let’s be honest: almost all of us who are facing the Empire are, to some degree, vulnerable. We are engaged in an extremely tough battle with the mightiest adversary on earth.
Emotionally, psychologically, we are on edge. We are shattered, battered, often wounded.
All of us need a great dose of psychological support, a home base, at least a tiny group of loving, determined people who will stand by us, ‘no matter what’. Yes, no matter what! We need someone who would rather die for us than to betray us, even if we slip, even if, when exhausted, we babble total crap, absolute nonsense.
Without such support, we could easily fall.
Our skin is thin. No matter how brave we are, we are also sensitive and easily hurt. If we were not like that, we would be whoring, successfully, with the corporate academia and media. We would be the Empire’s apparatchiks.
Several lines of smear often derails us for countless and precious hours, or even days – days that could be dedicated to much more important things and activities, than to the sorrowful licking of our own wounds somewhere in a dark corner.
Therefore, I suggest we fight back!
Not just to defend ourselves, but in order to protect our time and our combat-readiness.
I suggest we create a group, a ‘syndicate’, to identify the trolls, to unveil them, and to beat them, intellectually, over their dirty muzzles, back to where they belong, to nothingness.
A troll is not even ‘an enemy soldier’, a warrior who landed on the wrong side of the trenches. A troll is only a snitch, a loser, and a collaborator with the regime, a pest. Or he or she is a traitor.
Trolls are monitoring us, compiling lists of us, and smearing us whatever we say or write. Let us compile a list of trolls, too! Let us monitor them, expose them, and shame them. I propose the ‘United Front Against Trolls’ (UFAT) that will serve and defend all of us, members of the ‘new media’: outlets such as Telesur, CounterPunch, or Global Research. Let us come to the defense of each other; let us start a pesticide campaign for our great resistance outlets to rid us of these pests.
“Down with the trolls!” I say. “Let’s counter-attack, comrades! With vehemence, passion and deadly humor!”
Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. The result is his latest book: “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. ‘Pluto’ published his discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. His feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” is about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.