I tuned into a talk radio station the other day while a story about a troll factory in Russia was being discussed. Troll factory? My imagination conjured up a Willy Wonka meets Dr. Seuss setting with loads of oddly behaving characters. I’ve heard of trolls wreaking havoc on the internet but hadn’t heard the term troll factory being used before. I had to find out more. Focusing my attention back on the radio, I learned that the discussion was about an investigation about Russians and the 2016 election. I knew about that story and thought that the word troll was a good word to describe those who meddled in that event. One of the goals trolls have is to turn people against each other. When a hoard of trolls comes together to spread misinformation and cause confusion and doubt, they may come from one source like that factory overseas.
Working together to distract and destroy, AofA has had its fair share of trolls over the years. Trolls haven’t just descended here on our posts; we’ve encountered them on our social media pages, too. Interfering in parent-to-parent online conversations, they work hard to discredit us. Regardless of their persistent criticism and attacks, some of them personal, we’ve remained vigilant to our mission – sharing resources and parenting stories with those who seek information about autism and other topics related to autism, including liability-free vaccines.
Our goal is simple – share knowledge and our experience.
Their goal – make us sound crazy at all costs.
Leaving negative messages wherever they can, I see an increase in troll presence whenever a story about liability-free vaccines makes the news. They come out in full force when the diseases those liability-free vaccines haven’t prevented is in the news, too. Quick to blame the vaccine hesitant, the under-vaccinated or the completely unvaccinated, an outbreak couldn’t possibly be the fault of a vaccine, they spout. When we point out that vaccines have been recalled in the past, have lost their efficacy over time, and have not been studied as officials claim they have hasn’t helped. Rather than learn those truths, trolls insist it’s always the fault of the unvaccinated.
I don’t spend too much of my time in their arena, but sometimes I can’t help but notice their input. They are vocal. They are persistent. They are everywhere. Are they being paid to leave their thoughts on as many vaccine news threads as they do? I can only assume that there’s some sort of financial incentive. Why else would these complete strangers verbally abuse parents of vaccine injured children at the rate they do?
With the measles in the news these last few weeks, I’m seeing lots of pharma influence in vaccine-related conversations. They’ve even gone after older folks who’ve begun to chime in. That generation of Americans share that something like measles was no biggie, almost seen as a rite of passage and chalked up as a typical childhood event when they were kids. It was more than a nuisance than anything and never was it considered as dangerous as today’s news and TV doctors are making it out to be. Measles may be considered deadly in other parts of the world, but that isn't the case here in the US. Here, we’re being told to fear it with every fiber of our being. With how much attention the measles is getting, I wouldn’t be surprised if the CDC will step in like they had to when things got out of hand the last time the media and its trolls made too much of a fuss. I don’t always agree with the CDC, but I applauded them when they put on the brakes on the insanity that was stemming from the news outlets just a few months ago.
“Measles strikes again!” The media and others wanted us to believe.
But not really.
Source: CDC Twitter Page
If there’s a vaccine for it, we best fear it. That’s the general message those in charge of vaccines – and from those who do their bidding – want us to believe. That includes the trolls who work feverishly to protect Big Pharma and its investors. Whenever there's a mention or a smidgen of an uptick in diseases, like now, the trolls come out. Up in arms, they demand that it's the "anti-vaxxers" fault.
“How dare they!” They scream at us.
“How could they!” They blame us.
“Unfit to parent! Uneducated fools! Undeserving humans!” They shout in our direction.
Pro-vaccine logic, as well as troll logic, differs greatly from that of people who used to vaccinate. We believed until something terrible happened to our child.
So, what do we do? Say something? Say nothing? We could fall back on the old, classic suggestion – If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. But some people feel called to set someone straight, especially when liability-free vaccines, the measles, autism, and their attempts to find better health for your child despite their diagnosis comes up. To those people who have that desire, I say go for it. Speak your mind. Call them out. When you do say something, I’d suggest doing so without emotion and name calling. When one resorts to name calling, the chance to politely prove a point is immediately lost.
Before you share any personal information, though, keep in mind that you own no one an explanation. If it’s vaccine choice that’s the topic, remember, it’s your child – your decision. Their health is your responsibility, not someone else miles away sitting behind a computer screen. When you engage, you’re already armed with enough facts the most important one being your and your child’s first-hand experience. Having citations and some literature to reference seems to carry some weight when someone demands you to “Prove It!” also
If the comments or conversation is about autism and how your child’s diagnosis came about, that’s no one’s business but your own, too. If how they tumbled onto the spectrum is discredited, let’s say by vaccines, reevaluate how much time you’re giving to this person. Defending your beliefs is a worthy cause, but the energy spent to inform someone whose goal is to cause interference. If it’s not worth your time or effort, ignore the troll and whatever they said. Sometimes it’s best to just walk away and let it go.
That suggestion to walk away holds true if it’s a person you know causing you grief and not a random someone or some bot on a device arguing with you. It may not matter that they’ve seen your child tumble farther away from typical health and development. They cannot and will not see beyond what their doctor or pharma advertisement has convinced them otherwise. I know people have had to walk away from year’s long friendships and family members because of this. Instead of coming together or deciding to agree to disagree, two worlds collide. It’s sad that that happens, but walking away can sometimes be the only option.
Until someone, including a troll, has a child who’s negatively affected by liability-free-vaccines or has been diagnosed with severe autism as many of our children have, carefully thought out responses about our experience may not make one bit of difference. We’d never wish for anyone to go through what we have, but we’ll be here when that happens. It doesn’t matter if the troll is local or thousands of miles away. There is no “I told you so” here. No judgement. No finger wagging. No stern looks. No name calling. No threats of violence either. With open arms and probably a few tears, we’ll be ready to provide support.
Encourage people. It’s simple and what we prefer to do.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.