Lauren Duca published a new piece at Teen Vogue on January 10th, one that addresses the online trolling that she has faced over the last month. For those that don’t know, Duca published an article at Teen Vogue on December 10th titled “Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America.” She has faced regular harassment online ever since and hopefully she isn’t reaching a breaking point.
She defines the process of “gaslighting” as “psychologically (manipulating) a person to the point where they question their own sanity” and claims “that’s precisely what Trump is doing to (the USA).” That’s obviously going to trigger some backlash in this time of increased sensitivity. However, the online trolls have been unusually cruel in Duca’s case, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear.
Duca suggests that one factor in her trolling is that she’s a woman. With men messaging her threatening to rape her that certainly seems to be part of it. Anytime you deal with behavior from large numbers of people; there will be a mixture of motivations. However, I really don’t think that Duca is being targeted because she’s a woman for the most part: I think she’s being targeted for her opinion. Her trolls are pro-Trump, they don’t like being depicted as “psychologically (manipulated)” because the truth hurts, and they then look for a way to hurt the author of the truth back.
So what’s the best way to hurt someone’s feelings nowadays? The right-wing trolls, who don’t have the tolerance that is more common on the center and political left, know to target identity triggers such as race, sex, religion, body fat, unattractiveness, or sexual orientation. In Duca’s case, they settled on her sex because she’s not a clear ethnic minority, she’s lean, you can’t tell someone’s religion by looking at them, Duca is pretty, and for all I know she’s straight. Whether the trolls are genuine in their views or not, it makes it no less offensive in my view, but I do think her opinion is the controlling condition causing the trolling, not her sex/gender.
In regard to Duca’s point about “gaslighting,” Trump definitely has a “psychologically (manipulating)” way of trying to make you see five fingers when he’s only holding up four. He’s sort of like O’Brien, the chief antagonist of Winston Smith in George Orwell’s “1984.” From the novel:
“O’Brien held up his left hand, its back towards Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.
‘How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?’
‘And if the party says that it is not four but five — then how many?’
The word ended in a gasp of pain.”
Donald Trump mocks a reporter for his disability for all with active gray matter, including Meryl Streep, to see and then he holds up four fingers and tells you its five by denying what he did. Orwell’s “doublethink” has something to do with “gaslighting,” I think.
Of course, the danger with living in a bubble is that things exist outside of your comfort-zone consciousness, including the missiles that overly-sensitive Donald Trump will soon be in control of. Furthermore, there’s a reality of climate change and consequences, things that exist even if you gate-keep it from entering your worldview. These trolls that are shooting the proverbial messenger need to calm down and educate themselves. For people that already deal with the real world never forget this over the next four years: if Trump’s minions are criticizing you it probably just means that you’re doing something right.
I bet Duca will emerge as a thousand times more famous after this then she was before. The book that gets on the banned list attracts a lot of raised eyebrows: likewise, online trolls can inadvertently increase the fame of someone who antagonizes them. I dunno, maybe after her fame settles she’ll be positioned to be the next president with an anti-gaslighting platform.