Or: The Misdirection Of Online Influencers Part 2
When I utter the name Trisha Paytas within earshot of anyone who knows who I am speaking about, it is bound to get an immediate reaction. More often than not, the person speaking it refuses to hide the negative emotions attached. Because of this knee-jerk reaction, I wanted to make my feelings utterly clear from the get-go ... I have none.
Written By: Anton Sawyer
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When it comes to Trisha Paytas, I become as emotionally aroused as if I were looking at a bowl of soup. When she first started gaining traction, her online persona was based on trolling. She used YouTube and whatever social media outlet was most effective to put things out that were designed to irritate someone, somewhere. Attention was attention, it didn't matter if it was good or bad. She still reaches the eyes of millions daily, and would definitely fall under the category of an influencer. Because of her outlandish and outrageous comments over the last decade or so, it's easier to count the times she hasn't been in the vortex of some controversy than it is to try and count them all.
If you've ever read this site before, it's common knowledge that I wear my heart on my sleeve and am incredibly passionate about a number of things. Knowing this, how is it that I have never mentioned Trisha previously? The reason for this non-concern is because most of what she says and does is pretty transparent and not worth getting in a hissy over. She did recently come into my purview when she starting speaking about a political tragedy, while really killing her overall message.
What was most upsetting is that the cause she was trying to explain is one that definitely needs more attention (and I will be giving that attention a little later), but because of the damage she's done to her credibility over the years when it comes to incredibly serious events, it's information that simply isn't going to be trusted. So as a former troll myself—who has tried over the last few years to use my powers to defuse deception and not add to it—I wanted to explain to her how she could actually make her core values be taken seriously. For everyone else, this is really going to pull the curtain back to see the mentality of trolls and ways to defuse them and ruin their "fun."
There are two reasons why I feel so qualified to offer this advice. The first stems from the fact that as a recovering alcoholic/drug addict who wrecked my life in new and exciting ways for a solid 16 years. Millions have had similar issues, but mine was different in the fact that I never got in trouble ... really with anyone. I held down two full-time jobs during the time (one lasting a decade, the other lasting six years), never went to prison, and was able to keep my life fairly well in order. To be able to maintain that kind of lasting existence while juggling crippling depression and truckloads of self-medicating requires a lot of lying. I would read books on psychology in an attempt to heighten my skills. I never used any of the knowledge I gained to try and sort out my existence and make it less of a depressive, drug-fueled mess. Nope, I used it to learn how to nuance my job, loved ones, anyone and everyone within my sphere of influence to perpetuate my addiction. So when it comes to politics, online influencers, or anyone with the ability to sway the nation, I take my knowledge and try to enlighten and help.
The second reason why I feel I am qualified to offer such advice is that I used to be a troll ... never online, but in real life. In the mid-to-late 90s, I was attending high school in the small town of Rock Springs, Wyoming. Wyoming; the Cowboy State, and during the time I lived there, Rock Springs only had a population of about 20,000. This combination meant that gossip would spread like wildfire, and anyone who was "different" was pointed out very quickly. The first example I got of this was when I was 16 and received a parking ticket after living there for three months. Only my family really knew, but within a few days, my friends at school were asking about it when I had said nothing. Once I learned of this game of telephone, I wanted to exploit it and cause problems with two groups of people who picked on me; the cowboys and jocks.
If you are unaware of Wyoming's history, it is an incredibly homophobic place. It is wherein 1998, a gay man named Matthew Shephard was brutally beaten and murdered in the state. It made national shockwaves in the LGBTQ community. To give you an idea of just how much this mentality permeates every facet of life there, Wyoming still does not have any statewide hate-crime legislation to speak of. This murder took place over 20 years ago, and the state leaders still have done nothing to change this. Ever since I was a young lad, I have never been able to understand homophobia. I don't understand how someone living their life in a way that makes them happy and does nothing to impact my existence in any way, could be viewed as "less than" as a person. Because of this, I wanted to make the cowboys and the jocks confront their own prejudices.
In my senior year, I became the first male in Rock Springs High School History to take the fashion and makeup courses they offered. Within a week of classes starting, I began getting dirty looks. I thought that the fact I was taking a class with 23 girls—one of them being my pregnant girlfriend—that some of the guys could at least understand on some level. I was wrong. It wasn't until I started wearing nail polish and eyeliner to school that the hatred began to spill into the physical realm. Keep in mind I was doing nothing that would even remotely insinuate that I was gay. I would even have some of my gay friends, including my girlfriend who was bisexual, dress me in a way that really skirted the line of gender ambiguity, but wouldn't be offensive or would mock anyone in their community. The threats, minor acts of violence (knocking me over in the hall at school, tossing my books down a hall, etc.), and even my father talking to me about some of the things he'd heard let me know my plan was working. To be honest, I was lucky I didn't get severely hurt. The fact that I was in bands with guys who were all in their early 20s and had my back was the only reason I felt even somewhat OK with what I was doing. In the end, I felt proud. I felt that I was able to take someone else's character flaw and expose it for my own humor. Remember that kid in third grade who would always be in trouble because he never learned the difference between "good" and "bad" attention? That's where this level of trolling I used came from ... it's also the same with Trisha Paytas.
George Bernard Shaw once said, "The key to success is to offend the greatest number of people." It seems Paytas read this once or twice as that's exactly what she's been doing for a very long time. It's not really a secret that she's a troll, she's openly admitted it more than once. The problem is when you start blurring the lines of reality when it comes to one of your actual core values, it gets lost in the shuffle. It's basically "Crying Wolf" syndrome. When you do so much trolling, it can eventually dilute your message to the point where if you do have something to say of importance, it gets lost in the shuffle. This disbelief also becomes amplified when people have seen you speak about a similarly important issue in a completely trolling way.
During the YouTube release of the Frenemies podcast, which Trisha is the co-host, at the end of February 2021, she began speaking of an issue that has become increasingly toxic since Covid-19 began to saturate the world; the hate crimes perpetuated towards Asian-Americans. She spoke to her co-host Ethan Klein about a website she had found (link in resources) called Stop AAPI Hate. It gives stats and resources for those who have been victims of hate crimes against Asian American Pacific Islander communities. When trying to describe it to Klein she said, "To be an ally to the AAPI, people are suggesting to go up to Asians and ask if they need a break. This is on the website, this is not me saying it." When Klein pressed what she meant, she went on rambling about how we should ask Asian people if we can do some of their work so they can join a protest or march. I can appreciate her bringing attention to the matter, and there will be people who investigate for themselves, but as we have seen this century, there are a lot of people that take public figures at face value. And don't think I'm trying to remove context. Her co-host was clearly confused and I could see how many could come away thinking—like he mentioned—that the Asian Community wants white people to ease their burden so they can protest these injustices. Having checked the site, it is an amazing resource and does offer a lot of valuable information. If you were just to take her at her word, you would have no idea what's going on.
What makes this even worse is the fact that she has done a couple of trolling videos on politics and the presidential race before. One could look at her 2012 video about Mitt Romney and her infamous quote; "And Mitt rhymes with 'tit,' and I have two of those," and completely dismiss her. Yes, her appearance, the way she spoke, was clearly over the top to many. The issue is that there were many liberal social media posts afterward that used it as an example to show "stupid conservatives." In an attempt to make her next presidential troll even more believable, she toned down her look, speech, and everything in 2016 to come off as a serious Trump supporter. Some got the troll, many didn't. It was also used by liberal media outlets as an attack on Trump supporters, so it worked.
This is the issue: when you troll about your core values, then nobody takes you seriously. When I was doing my trolling, it was fortified on the grounds of a moral belief that is central to who I am. Paytas hasn't learned this. She hasn't learned that if you come off like a political moron, and millions of people only know you for that and will take that away as you being who you are, and never put faith into anything you tell them about that subject.
But that is the misdirection she wants. Is she real? Isn't she? Does she mean what she said in 2012, or 2016, or 2021? Sure her comments might upset you. She might hit that chord that resonates and makes you go to whatever page that has her name at the top and add a nasty comment. That's exactly doing what she wants. I remember watching over the last four years whenever ex-President Trump would give a speech and talk about something he wanted to accomplish, and he'd be met with laughter and be confused. He would try to push out a legislative agenda that he wanted people to really believe in, but they couldn't. Because of all the insane nonsense he would let gush out of his maw with zero filter that got laughs, people didn't know when he was serious, because to them none of it was.
So Trisha, be a troll! Be the best troll you can! But please, I beg you, don't expect that when you are serious you're actually going to help anyone or be taken seriously. When you speak of important, world-impacting issues the best you can expect is either a laugh or the look that you are far too opinionated for knowing so little. But as long as you can laugh all the way to the bank, who needs credibility?
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