The rule to deal with the people called ”trolls“ is: “don’t feed the troll”. Ignore them as much as possible. These people have disorders like narcissistic personality disorder and the best way to deal with them is to ignore them. Or don’t even ignore them.
Special circumstances require special measures. Certain rules and practices used in normal times and in dealing with normal people have to be changed, since times and people are not normal again. This is an emergency. An important office has been given to somebody showing symptoms of a severe personality disorder, somebody who is absolutely unfit for such an office. So I have a list of suggestions for the media:
- We know how this guy looks, so stop printing/posting new pictures or videos of him. It’s a waste of paper or screen space. Exceptions: Carefully selected satire, caricatures and works of critical art.
- Don’t mention his name if there is a way to avoid it. Refer to him with non-personal terms, by function, not by name. He who must not be named must not be named (the comparison is a bit lopsided, of course; the real dark lords might be some of the people around or behind him).
- The reason he wanted this office is that he wants to be center stage. Put him where he belongs, off stage. The word “obscene” probably originally means “off-stage” (from latin “scena”, meaning stage), something that must not be shown directly on. What he is looking for is Narcissistic supply. It is not your job as media to provide it to him.
- So remove him from the front page. Relegate him to page 5, to a small telegram-style side bar further down on the online page, to a place after the sports and just before the weather, to a short note etc. Everybody should find the important information about the important things happening, but send him off-stage.
- If you put him on the title (without picture and name, it possible) or make a big story, concentrate on his lies and abuse of office, and the negative consequences of what has been done. But even then, don’t mention his name. Depersonalize the news, debunk the lies but don’t mention the originator. Don’t show tweets. Just the facts.
- Depersonalize news about him, but not about the people around him. There are some people around him who exploit his personality (disorder) to further their own agenda. Put these people center stage, with headlines and big stories, with pictures (not showing him) and without even mentioning him by name, if possible.
- Likewise, put other politicians, especially parliamentarians supporting him, on the front page wherever possible. Let them steal the show from him. You as the media are in control of who is getting the show! Use that power. The media with their predictable reactions are the main source of his power, so take that power away from him.
- Remove him from places like gossip columns etc. Instead, put the people around him there, if there is an opportunity to do so, without even mentioning him.
- Media should cooperate on press conferences: send only two or three independent journalists there who will make two or three independent recordings and send these recordings to all the news agencies, tv-stations, papers etc. who participate in this cooperation. Send different people to do this job each time.
- Expect personal attacks, provocations etc. Don’t take such events personal; an insult takes two: somebody who is throwing dirt and somebody who swallows it. Don’t swallow the dirt. Refuse to be provoked. Let every journalist have some training in staying cool when being provoked. However, take legal action against it and cooperate with other media to protect yourselves by means of the law. In case personal attacks or insult come via social networks and services like twitter, ask the provider of the service to block that account and file a lawsuit to have it blocked or at least to have the offensive posts removed. Employ the best lawyers you can get and cooperate among each other for this purpose.
- Let every journalist have some training about narcissistic personality disorder, so everybody knows what he or she is dealing with. Employ a qualified psychologist/psychiatrist as a consultant.
- Release some science documentaries and articles (geard towards a general, non-expert audience) about narcissistic personality disorder and related conditions (without special reference to him), but let everybody know what the symptoms are and how such people act.
- Comments should constantly demand impeachment and ask people to write to their deputies to ask for impeachment.
- React to any attempt to intervene with the freedom of the press. Don’t back down. But react in a cool and non-personal manner. Take legal action.
To my readers: if you like these suggestions, please pass them on to the media you are getting your information and entertainment from (including social media).
(The picture is from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DoNotFeedTroll.svg)