Originally, I was thinking that such cretins should receive no attention, but at some point their outrageous claims need to be refuted. However, the problem in today’s world of social media is of giving them too much attention. In the digital age, the bomb-throwers (let’s be honest, this occurs on the right too) are usually affiliated with some website or online publication. These venues take in revenue from online advertising, which is determined by traffic to the sites – the more traffic, the higher the rates to place an ad and the more money the site makes. Thus, in large part, the value of a “writer/journalist” can be measured in the amount of mouse clicks and online comments he or she generates, regardless of the quality of the writing. Case in point, Salon.com’s David Sirota. This hack created quite a social media reaction with the following tweet:
BECAUSE privilege (unduly) determines how we respond, we should hope the perpetrator of this heinous act is white: salon.com/2013/04/16/let…
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) April 16, 2013
Unfortunately, I was hoping to avoid any link to the article in which Sirota expounds on his point; however, it was embedded in the offending Twitter tweet. As expected, there were many responses…even to the point that “#BlockedByDavidSirota” was trending on twitter (and seen as a badge of honor) and his two articles on the topic had generated over 20 pages of comments each.
Unfortunately, all of this activity likely had the opposite effect of that intended, and Sirota was probably laughing as his piece generated hit after hit and social media trends – adding more value, not less, to his employers. In these days, overly complaining and trying to refute someone is less effective than plain ignoring him or her.
The problem is finding the right balance. I firmly believe that such outrageous assertions must be refuted, but a line must be established so that we are not encouraging, enabling and enriching these trolls. While finding that line can be difficult, I think William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection found the right balance:
I’m not going to link to it.
It’s just more David Sirota link bait.
Forcing a rant about “white privilege” and white men into any situation, no matter how ridiculous, has become his schtick.
No link, just look and laugh:
Perhaps that’s the best way, acknowledge/refute the claims without falling for the link bait.