Last week, I wrote about whether or not its a good thing to respond to trolls. Generally speaking, the answer is no – responding to trolls only encourages them. The last thing you want to do is show them that they bother you.
Handling critical commentary, of course, is a completely different business. There are times where it’s totally appropriate to engage in a civil conversation with a constituent. If you aren’t willing to do that because you don’t have the time, it’s easiest to ignore the comments. The last thing you want to do is to insult the person who made the comments. And you definitely don’t want to threaten them on the radio.
Yet, that is exactly what one Congressman did. Earlier this week, another mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, killed four (including the shooter) and wounded 16. Naturally, this caused many to tweet their thoughts and prayers to Fort Hood, as well as call for tighter gun controls. Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX) sent out this tweet:
To which user @BluDuPage responded:
Relatively harmless, as far as tweets sent to Congressmen go, right? Congressman Olson apparently didn’t think so. As noted by Buzzfeed, while appearing on a radio station, Olson went off on this tweet and encouraged others to “Serve that person up a message and get the heck out of America”:
One request get on my Twitter feed account and respond to that woman who gave that outrageous comment about this…What’s my handle?…Olson Press Shop….it will come up pretty quickly, my little thing, just pray and then this person went off because I wanted prayers as opposed to gun control. Serve that person up a message and get the heck out of America.
One way to encourage people being nasty to you? Yell at them on mass media and tell them to get out of this country. A quick look at mentions towards Olson’s Twitter account shows that there are, of course, now more people yelling at him on Twitter. Among the highlights:
You’ll note that all of these tweets were sent April 5…so these were all sent in one day. If Olson’s plans were to get people to stop tweeting his account, that failed, pretty badly.
The lesson here is pretty obvious: if you don’t want people to troll your account, do not engage with trolls. And definitely, definitely don’t go on the radio and yell at them…that only makes things a thousand times worse.
Update 9:50am: This entry has been changed – the original post implied that @BluDuPage was trolling, and that wasn’t the intent here – rather, the intent was to show how not to handle critical commentary. I apologize for the original entry.