Dan Boyle: It Doesn’t Matter Anymore


‘I have spent too much time playing this game that I’m not going to play anymore‘, says Dan Boyle (above) of engaging with abusive trolls

There are times in life when everything pales in significance. Where the personal overtakes the public, framing what had once been thought important as not being so important after all.

My life has fallen into such a phase. For most of my life I have been a public person. It remains my intention to continue to engage publicly. What I’ve begun to question is my willingness to accept and tolerate what for the most part is unacceptable and intolerable.

Faced with the facile, the uninformed or just the plain ignorant my instinct has been to engage in some form of reason. My own fuse has often been short and tightly wound. To my shame and embarrassment I have often responded with unfortunate lack of patience aimed at those from whom I have detected no sense or reason.

Despite these lapses I have bitten my tongue more often than I should have. Like most others in public life I have shared the need to be liked, as a prerequisite for attaining ‘support’. The corollary of accepting affection has been an obsessive desire not to cause offence.

It is, of course, a continuum. The yin and yang of life. We might stray from one end of this range to the other, but at least we aspire never to move too far from the middle.

The choices we make contribute to our potential of being marked out by those without boundaries. Being of the wrong tribe, part of a clique less large or traditional, brings obvious responsibility for not fitting in appropriately.

The willingness to attack or to dehumanise is more a feature of social media than face to face contact. I rarely would personally encounter someone who would tell me to my face that I was amoral, that I had blood on my hands, or that they understood why my wife might have left me.

These things have been said to me on social media. If they were intended to provoke a reaction they worked. They made me angry, sometimes indignant, sometimes hurt.

They are not now being said as frequently or as bitterly, although a certain residue continues to persist.

I have spent too much time playing this game that I’m not going to play anymore. I remain open to critical engagement. There is much about what I do that warrants criticism. When fairly delivered, in a proper context, I would hope my response to such criticism would help me do what I do that bit better.

What I will avoid, beyond Lent, is responding to any contemptuous abuse, any reference to my family, any inverted ‘truth’ designed to fit with whatever fatuous prejudice held.

It won’t change the World but it will make my world more sane. I’ve been a fool to have put up with such nonsense for so long.

It won’t make those who I will now ignore as any less angry, but I’m beyond caring about that. The people who matter most to me are those who are closest to me.

If I feel guilty about anything it is the time I should have but didn’t spend with those I love, choosing instead to interact with those who never deserved my time, who have held each other in mutual disrespect.

This may be a long winded way of saying Don’t Feed the Trolls. My goal is to make them starve. I have been the bigger fool for giving them the ingredients

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. He is running in the local elections in Cork in May  for the Greren Party.  His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Pic: Allstock

28 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: It Doesn’t Matter Anymore

  1. bisted

    …alas, poor Dan…I’ll miss the weekly column…probably the best green minister we never had…

    1. Cool_Hand_Lucan

      “I understand why your wife left you” is legitimate political discourse?

      Dan’s right, 90% of people who’d be willing to say that to him online would never say it to his face. And the other 10% would deserve a slap.

      We can disagree with our politicians and question their integrity but there has to be some decorum.

    2. Bodger

      Tom, that is unfair to both men. Even Dan’s greatest critics must admire the fact that he has always engaged with whoever. He will be more discerning in future, is my take.

      1. Cú Chulainn

        He engaged with the Skyrne valley all right and in so doing removed any credibility he ever had. The fact he still won’t come clean means he has no chance to evolve and grow as a human being. Stuck in a circle of self deception.

  2. kellMA

    When an argument about something descends into petty name calling and personal attacks rather than staying focused on the issue being discussed, then continuing on is completely pointless. You are dealing with someone who knows they have no point but is unable to accept it and has reverted into child mode. yeah but no but etc.

  3. Curmudgeon

    This could easily be remedied by updating broadsheets creaking forum software. Imagine a system that has questions up voted or downvoted according to merit and regular posters had reputation points and the trolls with multiple accounts could be blacklisted/shadow banned.

    As it is now the author has to trawl through absolute idiocy and ignorance to get to the few decent replies be they negative or positive ( spoiler:they’re still going to be mostly negative though)

    Alas it’s probably not going to happen

  4. Nigel

    Nobody really engages anti-evolutionists are cigarettes-don’t-cause–lung-cancer types on their scientific merits either, because they don’t have any. What you have is a large, pro-corporate, reactionary political movement that stakes out opposition not to competing political policies for dealing with oncoming crises, but to the very concepts that underpin our understanding of those crises rather than examine the obvious underlying corruption. Like Michael Jackson they have the sheer wealth and celebrity to attempt to reshape reality and expect everyone else to go along with it, and you are their number one fan, Consequently you have to be dealt with on a political and cultural level that reasserts the fundamental value of truth and honesty. Scientifically, you’re a joke and a lie.

      1. millie st murderlark

        Did you not see what mischief he played with my extremely witty and well-played word play yesterday?

        He’s on a roll, clearly.

  5. Joe Small

    I have no idea why anyone would go into politics. Its almost entirely thankless, not that well paid when you consider the effort and hours put in and it is so difficult to make an impact. I have a sneaking personal regard for honest politicians of most parties these days.

  6. Werty

    Dan cannot take criticism – only true believers allowed so his ego may be fluffed.

    Don’t mention the lies he pushes while WE PAY him and are denied any review his actions (even though he was/is supposed to work for us). Dan is the ultimate victim – lost an election, kicked out on his ear but still able to argue transgender ideology, abortion, engineered migration, man-made-climate-change.

    It’s all TOOTLE-PANTY-LUMPKINS and Dan knows it.

    It’s all TOOTLE-PANTY-LUMPKINS and Broadsheet know it too.

    Keep up the TOOTLE-PANTY-LUMPKINS lads – it’s all you are good for.


    1. millie st murderlark

      Do you have a bit of a secret crush on Dan?

      You show up on all of his posts and now this obsession with TOOTLE-PANTY-LUMPKINS…

  7. Frilly Keane

    Look’ it
    For what it’s worth
    Dan deserves better
    Way better
    Than what some’ah ye posted here

    He’s a daycent sort
    He doesn’t get personal
    Or snide
    Or resort to bullying

    And not once
    Have I see him take his issues with comments and commenters off to annuder platform an’ have at ye
    I’ve never known him to open fire on Broadsheet, about Broadsheet, John Ryan , other columists, or commenters

    Nor have I seen him pass remarks about people’s appearance, our jobs, our relationships and private lives. What we write, who we endorse, support or vote for
    Or our mental health

    At no stage have I ever felt he was upta sum’ting
    Or conniving
    Or anything but a gentleman with an honest endeavour to serve in public life
    Look at him there now again
    Going back to where he started 30 years ago

    And his book ‘Making up the Numbers’ is on its own evidence he deserves a lot more than to be measured alongside a lad that has told us all to eff off
    More that once

    But that’s just me

    Good luck in May Dan

    1. bisted

      …ah here Frilly…have you even read his columns…nobody does snide or sneering better than Dan… He opens fire as a default position on anyone with the temerity to citicise him. You never gave to scratch too far with Dan for the inner gurrier to show. He has a disdain for democracy and for commenters on this site who disagree…he has even suggested that people who don’t vote in the same way as he should be castrated…

      1. Frilly Keane

        Now Bisto
        Nobody does snide and sneering better than Dan

        Now you know that’s not true

        As for the weekly platform

        There’s worse than him over on the wall there

  8. topsy

    Dan the man. History will report that he was a central element in a government that destroyed a country and many peoples lives.

  9. Ron

    Dan, I have no idea how you managed to pack all of that arrogance, self-pity, sense of worth, and self-entitlement into yourself. All I can say is how efficient of you.

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