Skip to content
Subscriber Only

The Rise of Trolling in Politics

Today's politicians are indulging in the darker side of the Internet.
on January 13, 2015 in Washington, DC.

on January 13, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

As politicians become increasingly comfortable with social media, they've also begun dabbling in its darker impulses, employing tweets and Facebook posts as bait in a partisan war of words. Yes, trolling—the act of gleefully using the Internet to intentionally provoke or anger someone—is fast becoming a substitute for political discourse in America. 

On the bright side, trolling can show off a politician's sense of humor, or at least the humor of an aide authorized to use the politician's sign-on.. The winking sarcasm of tweets or gifs does offer momentary relief from politics' often dreary, C-SPAN-esque excitement. But it's also hard to deny that when elected officials stoop to snide point-scoring, something feels amiss. It's as if they are admitting that cynicism has won the day.