How not to handle trolls: The Geraldo Rivera edition

News anchor and former talk show host Geraldo Rivera is no stranger to doing stupid things on social media:

Geraldo Selfie

Above: Someone who should not take selfies.

He managed to find something new and strange to do, however.  Geraldo has a Facebook page with nearly 35,000 likes.  Last Thursday, Rivera posted a Facebook note in support of President Obama’s immigration executive order:

Geraldo Note on ImmigrationGeraldo got a huge amount of interaction with this note.  Also, as you can probably imagine, some of the comments were less than kind.  Here are some of the lowlights, which included racially tinged comments, vulgarity, and attacks on Rivera’s ethnicity:

Rivera Comments5 Rivera Comments4 Rivera Comments3 Rivera Comments2 Rivera Comments1

These comments, of course, are disgusting examples of internet trolling.  As we have previously noted, these people are sick and in need of real help.  Indeed, the LAST thing you give them is attention or any sort of acknowledgement that they got under your skin.  Unfortunately, Rivera decided to give them the attention they so crave:

Geraldo calls commenters little pieces of shit

And, as you can imagine, that didn’t go well:

Response to Geraldo2 Response to Geraldo1

Are many of the the attacks on Geraldo fair? Of course not.  They are insane, despicable, and examples of the worst of the internet.  But Geraldo, who has been in this business for decades, should know better.  Maybe he was just trying to get publicity by saying something shocking, because I have to assume that someone who has been at this for as long as Geraldo has would have heard worse and developed a thicker skin than this.

The lesson for elected officials is easy: Never, ever respond like Geraldo did.  Delete and block trolls who make disgusting comments, while calmly engaging with those who disagree in a respectful manner.  To respond like this brings you down to their level, makes you look like a fool and further insights those you are supposedly trying to shut up.

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