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Guest Column

Crossing the Bridge: Look out for Trolls


In Norse mythology, beings described as Trolls dwelled in isolated areas of rocks, mountains or caves and were not friendly to humans. When my children were young, I enjoyed reading them the Norwegian fairy tale, “Three Billy Goats Gruff.” The “mean ole Troll” in the story would hide under a bridge, waiting for his prey. He elicited a great deal of fear from my children. They would ask, “Daddy, are Trolls real?” “Why are they so mean?”  “Don’t let a Troll get me, Daddy.” 

By far, the most common use of the word Troll today is in relation to internet users who exist for the sole purpose of causing upset. In internet parlance, a Troll is defined as a person who posts inflammatory, insulting, abusive or off-topic messages in an online community. They appropriately take their name from the horrible Trolls of fairy tales. When you least expect it, such as while checking Twitter (now X), like an innocent Billy Goat crossing a bridge, Trolls pop up from their lair (dank hole/parents’ basement) to try and ruin your day. Trolls are characterized by distinct personality traits, including psychopathy, Machiavellianism, narcissism and sadism.

Today’s Trolls emerge in larger numbers during political season, which currently seems to have no beginning or end. Attacking people on social media from behind the safety of their computer screens somehow gives them a sense of importance. We cannot see these Trolls, only their alleged names and negative words. Are they real people? Have they ever spoken or written anything positive? Why are they so sad and miserable and hateful?

The most disgusting thing about today’s Trolls is that many are paid to cause a ruckus. One company, Influenceable, pays Trolls $50 per post. The Dark Money behind this group thrives in a political atmosphere of chaos and division and Trolls are more than willing to be used for the purpose of creating pandemonium. No doubt, many of the negative posts about my colleagues or me are from paid Trolls.

To appeal to ordinary citizens, Trolls say that elected officials are all “corrupt.” They paint any political proceeding as a “sham.” Name-calling (RINO, liberal, globalist, etc.) and lying are common practices among political Trolls. They reinforce distrust in all public institutions and leaders and work to make their audience feel helpless and hopeless. Often, such agitators don’t even take their position seriously, but narcissistically feed off creating fear, paranoia, and anxiety. They will go to great lengths to convince as many people as they can that there is a villain behind a given social woe with little or no solid evidence for the cases they try to make.

As your State Representative, I am always open to hearing innovative ideas, different opinions, and constructive criticism. We welcome honest and open political debate. However, social media potshots, hate mongering and lies are not helpful to anyone. The Leftist Gun-Hating Troll who comments on nearly every single one of my posts (and almost every Republican’s social media page in Texas), will never convince me or my 2nd Amendment loving supporters. Likewise groups on the political far right who exhibit cult-like behavior, with constant and choreographed social media attacks full of deception, are not to be taken seriously. The vile Trolls that make derogatory comments, even about my dear mother, Helen Sue, who passed away several years ago, are a special kind of evil.

In the coming campaign months, the Trolls will continue crawling out from under the bridge to do what Trolls do. Most often these Trolls are not from my district. Many do not even exist as real-life human beings. My pledge is to serve the people of House District 60, not Trolls or the people they may represent.


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