There’s a very interesting website I found called SociopathWorld. Little if no distinction is made there between sociopaths (more likely to have APD and be impulsive) and psychopaths (NPD and more likely to plan out their actions). Most of the activity on the board is by and for the character-disordered, and includes blog posts by psychopaths and sociopaths, both prose and poetry. It’s interesting because it allows the rest of us to have a peek inside their heads. The experience of “getting inside their heads” seems very surreal to those of us who don’t think the way they do. It’s like a visit to another planet.
But even more interesting is the comments. One of the posts was by a non-psychopath talking about her psychopathic child. She was out of her mind with worry and grief over his actions.
Bad place to make a post like that. Almost all the responses either ignored her and kept on bantering about inconsequential things that were already being discussed, or if they addressed the issue she raised, were snarky “inside jokes” about the post or unsympathetic one-line replies.
That got me thinking about Internet trolls and bullies. Forums in particular are swarming with them (I’m not sure why trolls seem so attracted to forums over blogs), and that’s why moderators are needed, to weed out the worst posts and ban them from the forum.
I used to be very active on a political forum, but after several years the moderator quit and was never replaced, and when I went back recently, the forum was overrun by trolls and bullies. Most of the regular posters had left, and the few that stuck around were attacked left and right by the trolls. It’s sad what happened to that site, because at one time it was filled with intelligent and thoughtful people. Obviously most of them were run off a long time ago.
Some websites have a lot more bullies and trolls than others, and a lot of it has to do with the way the forum or site is moderated, and sometimes the subject matter has a lot to do with it too.
There are a few ways you can identify a troll or Internet bully, and I think almost all of these people are psychopaths:
— They rarely post anything original; mostly they just reply to or about someone else’s.
— Their posts are almost always very short.
— Their posts are snarky and filled with “jokes” meant to put a certain poster or their ideas down, or sometimes inside jokes when there is a swarm of bullies present who are on the same page against the non-troll.
— Trying to reason with them never works.
— If they are banned, they may come back under a different handle.
— Never PM or email them your concerns–they can use this against you and suddenly you may find your private message to them posted publicly elsewhere or being made fun of. This has happened to me.
— If you report them, be sure the moderator or admin is not on the side of the bullies; if they allow the presence of the trolls and bullies, that’s a red flag.
— Just like in real life, they will often gang up on a poster who appears to be vulnerable or have a differing opinion.
— They will take offense easily if you criticize them and usually fire back an insult at you.
— They are huge fans of humorous or snarky memes, gifs and photos, and will use these as a distraction away from the topic supposedly being discussed.
— They often go off topic and discuss irrelevant (and usually trivial) things among themselves.
— They gossip openly about past posters.
— They may respond to your comments with a “reaction gif” or meme instead of a real response.
— Some trolls come out of nowhere and make incendiary comments designed to upset the community or individual posters. These trolls are often banned or leave of their own accord.
All these tactics are meant to put the honest posters down, drive them away, or belittle them. Beware of any website where you see these tactics being used. Most of these people are psychopathic or narcissistic.
“Don’t feed the trolls” is excellent advice, if you must deal with them. Don’t respond to anything they say, or better yet, block them if you have that option.