The art of blogging: new static page!

I just added this list of links to all my blogging and writing articles to the header for easier reference.

Blogging

Following is a list of links to the articles I have written about blogging and writing. I hope these tips prove as helpful to others as they have to me. Some of the advice I give is really just tried and true suggestions used by other bloggers that I tried too and have worked for me, while others are just things I have picked up along the way.

As with everything else on this blog, I’ve tried to keep a light touch to balance all the deadly seriousness of the subject matter and some of these posts are more for fun than for learning.

Blogging and Writing

franz_kafka

Is Profanity in Blog Rants Okay?

Blogging is Not for Pussies

The Drudgery of Blogging

Blogging

The Narcissism of Blogging

Blogging Drunk

Blogging is Crack for the Soul, but is Blogging about Narcissism, um, well, Narcissistic?

This Blog is Half a Year Old Today

Why This Blog is Becoming Successful and How Yours Can Too

Why is Narcissism so Hot These Days (peripherally related to blogging, but it still belongs here)

The Chatterbox and the Hermit

An Open Letter to WordPress (originally posted on FishofGold.com)

Running Naked in Public

I’m Holding My Nose

A Vast Wasteland

On Political Correctness and the Inevitability of Offending People

Writing is Cheaper then Therapy or Drugs

This Blog is Growing. Your Can Too

Nano Poblano is Over. Wow, What a Ride

Three People Who Deserve My Thanks

Can I Do It? Can I Do It?

The Article That Grew Legs

Best Day Ever

This Is What I Was Born to Do

Aspies Rule the Internet

How Writing Every Day Has Changed Me

Gratitude

I’m Frustrated

My Own Little Kingdom

Nobody Knew Who I Was

7 Science Based Reasons to Use Emoticons

My Decision to Run Ads on This Site

642 Views?! It’s My Second Best Day Since Christmas!

Narcissism on the Internet: What Vaknin Has to Say

My Most Popular Posts (as of 2/19/15)

Ever Have One of Those Days?

Handling Online Trolls and Bullies

troll_dolls

Internet Psychopaths: The Difference Between Trolls and Bullies

Two Kinds of Stealth Trolls

Internet Trolls are Psychopaths

Can We Please End This Flame War?

Beware of N’s Who Use Mental Illness as an Excuse to Abuse

Beware of Malignant Narcissists Posting as Victims in the Psychopathic Abuse Community

Replying to My Haters

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Blogging is not for pussies.

scaredy_cat
Don’t be a pussy.

 

Anyone who blogs about a sensitive topic, especially one that focuses on mental health issues (religion and politics would be up there too), is bound to run into haters and detractors at some point. If you blog about a controversial topic, such as narcissism and narcissistic abuse (which is my #1 topic), religion, politics, or the ethical ramifications of breeding pit bulls, by default you make yourself vulnerable to online narcissists, trolls, bullies, and psychopaths. You are going to attract people who do not wish you well. It’s a built-in hazard of the trade.

Even if your blog isn’t particularly controversial or doesn’t focus on a sensitive issue, you are going to have haters and maybe even bullies. OM (Opinionated Man) is a perfect example of this (he insists he has a LOT of haters), and his blog is one of the most popular on WordPress. He doesn’t let the haters get him down, and neither should I and neither should you.

I’ve wasted a lot of time beating myself up for things beyond my control. Over people who do not wish me or my blog well. Way too often I allow other people’s negative opinions of me, my blog, or my articles to get me down and even make me want to change my blog’s focus or remove posts that I thought might have offended them.

You cannot please everyone. It’s not possible. If by some fluke you somehow do please everyone, then you probably have the most boring blog in the universe, one that’s all sweetness and light 24/7, and never approaches anything the slightest bit triggering or controversial.

courage_mandela

 

Someone is going to be offended.

Even if you blog about something as benign as cake decorating or flower arranging, you are probably going to offend someone. Maybe someone doesn’t like the fact you write recipes using cream cheese icing instead of buttercream, or vice versa. Maybe they are diabetics who take offense to the fact you don’t include sugarless cake decorations in your recipes. They might even assume you are prejudiced against people with diabetes. Maybe someone doesn’t like the color yellow in your floral arrangements because they have bad associations with that color. Maybe they are angry at you because the flowers are dead and they are are morally opposed to killing plant life for ornamental purposes. They could be offended by your fonts or your layout. Maybe they hate your avatar because your picture reminds them of their rude neighbor who lets their dog bark all night and revs their engine every morning at 5 AM.  You have no control over these things.  My point is that no matter what you blog about, someone is going to take offense.

If you can’t stand having bullies and haters, you probably shouldn’t be blogging at all. If you blog about a sensitive or controversial issue, as I do, you are going to attract even more of them than you would if you only blogged about cake decorating or flower arranging or baby koalas.

The Green-Eyed Monster.

Some people are also going to be jealous of you. If your blog becomes successful, expect to have haters. That’s probably why OM has so many haters. His blog is one of the most popular and well-known on the Internet. I’m not tooting my own horn here, but I’ve noticed as my blog has grown, I also have acquired more haters and critics. As a self-identified HSP (highly sensitive person), this realization has been hard for me to accept. I need to grow a thicker skin and just write about what I want and not worry about what the haters think.

haters2

On Political Correctness.

I don’t like political correctness. I don’t like feeling like I have to censor my own thoughts and feelings, because openness and honesty has made my blog what it is. If my words offend someone, they just need to deal with it. If they hate me or my blog, sucks for them.  There are other blogs they can read instead. No one is holding a gun to their head telling them they have to read this blog. I even have an Escape button that will take them to the Huffington Post (it’s not lost on me that some may be offended by THAT). It’s not like I’m the only voice on the Internet that addresses the issues I write the most about. There are hundreds of others.

cowardlylion2

I’m a natural pessimist. If I enter a room and everyone is friendly and welcoming except for one person who scowls at me, I’m the type who will fret and ruminate about that one grumpy person rather than feel blessed and grateful that everyone else is happy to see me. Focusing on that one negative person keeps me from enjoying the party.

It’s the same thing with blogging. I have a lot of supporters and friends in the blogging community. There are lots of people who enjoy my blog posts and visit every day. I shouldn’t worry about the few people who are critical of me or my blog, because they don’t matter. They are probably not the sort of people I would want to have as friends anyway.

So, if you blog, don’t be a wuss. Grow a tougher skin and accept the fact you are going to have haters. You don’t have to approve their comments. You don’t have to search Google to see what your detractors may be saying about you. You don’t have to let their vitriol ruin your day. They don’t matter.

Don’t censor yourself. Most people will be able to tell if you are trying to hard to be “politically correct,” and your blog will become boring and insincere and no one will want to read it.   People aren’t stupid and can tell if you’re not being honest or are censoring yourself because of your fear of criticism or offending someone.

Blog from your heart and soul. Be courageous. Write about what you want, no matter how controversial. Don’t be afraid to stir the pot and stand by your heartfelt opinions, even if they are unpopular ones.

Tell the haters to take a hike. You are going to have them. They don’t matter.

A vast wasteland.

Wasteland-03-Digital-Illustration-by-Atelier-Olschinsky
Wasteland 03 by Atelier Olschinsky

I remember when forums were a thing. So much has changed in the past 5-10 years, with the proliferation of social media and the enormous popularity of Big Brother Facebook, which started its unholy takeover of the Internet in 2008. Twitter is getting almost as bad.

Forums still exist, but most of them are dead or dying. The last one I posted on was about a year ago. It was a political/history related forum that had been in existence since 1997. I started posting there in 1999, and was on-again, off-again for the next 13 years. That forum (as far as I know) is still in existence, but when its only moderator left and was never replaced, the site was overtaken by trolls who proceeded to destroy the site by running off its regular members. Last time I was there, it was a shell of what it once was. There were about 3 intelligent people still posting there. I had to leave; it had become mind numbingly boring and too sad to stick around.

Another forum I used to be active on has about a tenth of the activity it once did. All you can hear is the crickets there now.

I see this sort of thing happening all over the web. The Internet is littered with dead and dying forums. They’re a thing of the past, really a relic of the last century, when the Internet was still new and social media was still just someone’s bright idea. They remained popular during the first decade of this century, but seemed to start their decline in about 2007-8, when Facebook made its debut. As content management systems became easier for the average person to use, blogging gained popularity too. Blogs are probably as numerous (if not more numerous) than forums were 8-10 years ago.

I always liked forums because of the way they were organized by topic, but they did have their problems. Blogging is more appealing and much more creative and rewarding for a writer than posting on forums is. You don’t have to worry about going against the status quo because you have an “unpopular opinion.” You don’t have to censor your language (although I try to use decorum). You don’t really have to worry about bullies ganging up on you or trolls invading or hacking into your site. Moderators weren’t always your friend either; sometimes they even sided with the bullies.

The Internet is a mess with the debris of dead forums, but there’s also a wealth of information on them if you look. It’s fascinating to read a decade-old thread about a topic that interests you, and you might find out some things you never would have known otherwise. Reading old forums is like reading the memoir of someone who has passed on. You can learn so much. It’s incredible how fast history moves on the web.

Beware of N’s who use mental illness as an excuse to abuse

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I think those of us ACONs and survivors of narcissistic abuse who post on public blogs that are accessible to anyone need to be very vigilant and careful. I will never make my blog private or require you to sign in first, but due to that decision, I realize I am going to attract MNs and psychopaths whose only desire is to bully, make incendiary and false remarks, and play “divide and conquer” games within the community. I am willing to take that chance because I want this blog to remain as accessible as it is. I want people to feel welcome without having to be “approved” first or having to sign in, because I hate having to sign into any website myself and will usually bypass any site that requires me to do that.

If you’ve been following my posts, I wrote two articles about some drama that was going on between me and another blogger who allegedly suffers from dissociative identity disorder (DID). I provided links to the nasty, character-assassinating articles that were written about me and my commenters and followers on their blog. I was quoted extensively in their rant (as well as several of the people who commented on those two articles) and was practically accused of being MN myself. The things they said were hurtful, but I also knew they were lies and intended to upset me. If this person is a narc, they were projecting their own disorder onto me. And that’s just so wrong, but it’s what they do.

I am letting that go and do not wish to further antagonize this blogger and will just delete or not approve any further abusive comments from them. But in thinking it over, I realized that there are going to be people on the Internet who use their own mental illness as an excuse to be able to abuse and be nasty to other people. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a mental illness, but it’s possible to be mentally ill and also a malignant narcissist who wants to hurt those who speak the truth. I also think there are some N’s (I’m not saying it’s this blogger) who feign mental illness because that gives them an excuse to abuse. We need to be very careful of anyone who says they have a mental illness but then make abusive remarks based on no real information. N’s are out there, lurking our sites and reading.

Not all N’s are going to be abusive to us. Some actually are honest and want to seek help or educate us about their NPD. Those are the ones with insight into their disorder.

But there are others, who may feign another mental disorder (or sometimes actually have it but use it as an excuse to be nasty and mean), who can become trollish and try to destroy our communities with their vitriol or make us fear their wrath. I refuse to let people like that make me afraid to post what I want and keep journaling about myself honestly and openly. I refuse to let them squelch or discourage me in my desire to heal and help others. I am made of tougher stuff than that now, and I know God is behind me, protecting me from the bullies and trolls who may want to attack me and this blog and keep me from speaking my truth.

Did you ever almost not post something…

delete

…but went ahead and did it anyway?

I just did earlier today, with my poetry. I haven’t written poetry in years and I feel like it really isn’t good–too melodramatic and full of purple prose. Like a tacky velvet painting, done up with garish colors and second-rate drawing. Something you wouldn’t even bother selling because you know no one would buy it; so to get rid of it, you just wind up giving it to Goodwill or something.

I think my prose is much stronger. But people seemed to like the poem I wrote. It was also very cathartic for me to write that, and deeply personal. It’s easy to have second thoughts about making something that personal public. Especially for those of us who have lived with and been raised by narcs, everything is so damned dangerous.

To think that the world is full of malignant narcissists and psychopaths who could be stomping all over my fragile and bleeding heart which I just lay out there in the big wide open world of the Internet is a scary, scary thing, but as bloggers about narcissism, we can’t let that stop us. We must be brave.

Yeah, those narcs could be sitting there right now laughing at everything we write, even quoting us elsewhere and making fun of us among their sycophants. If we write about being victimized (which most of us do because that’s how we learned what we know), narcs are at least going to be reading our stuff. They will not be empathetic. If you think about that too much, you’ll lose your courage and won’t write anything.

So to hell with those narcs. They are going to read what we write. They love to read about themselves, even if it’s negative. To a narc, negative attention is better than no attention. It’s still narcissistic supply.

So what are they gonna do? Troll our sites? We can always not approve comments. So far I have only received one abusive comment and into “Trash” it went. Some narcissism writers have made their blogs private or required people to sign in before they can see any posts. I won’t do that with my blog. It’s an open book, available to everyone and anyone, even narcs.

This is a blog primarily meant to be a form of self-therapy (though it’s become a lot more) so why should I edit my thoughts and feelings? Why should I make my blog a “private club”? No, I won’t ever do that. I hate exclusivity and having to sign into a website. If I have to sign in, I probably won’t bother joining. So I’m not going to do that to you, either.

So anyway, after I posted my poetry I waited for the vomit sounds and crickets. I’m glad that hasn’t happened. My stupid hypervigilance again. I always short sell myself.

I kind of felt the same way posting “My Mother, the Exhibitionist” because the behavior I described in that post is deeply embarrassing to me (and almost borders on pornography). But it is a perfect example of the way some narcissists behave in front of their kids and others, and it affected me, so why would I NOT write about it?

The minute I start editing my thoughts on this blog is the minute I’ve sold out and the blog becomes something other than what it was meant to be–a public online diary. I will never sell out.

But I won’t ever talk about my crush on this blog. Ever. I know that’s probably got some wheels turning. Nyah nyah, too bad. Deal with it. 😉

Two kinds of stealth trolls

stealthtroll

In two earlier posts I wrote about online bullies and trolls (not exactly the same thing, but close enough). I won’t explain here how they differ and are the same (you can read the articles which I’ve posted links at the end of this article), but I neglected to mention stealth trolls. Stealth trolls seem benign, but can wreak havoc on web forums and social media. I will describe two types of stealth trolls. There are probably others.

The Concern Troll

concerntrolls

The Urban Dictionary defines a concern troll as:

A person who posts on a blog thread, in the guise of “concern,” to disrupt dialogue or undermine morale by pointing out that posters and/or the site may be getting themselves in trouble, usually with an authority or power. They point out problems that don’t really exist. The intent is to derail, stifle, control, the dialogue. It is viewed as insincere and condescending.

A concern troll on a progressive blog might write, “I don’t think it’s wise to say things like that because you might get in trouble with the government.” Or, “This controversy is making your side look disorganized.

The concern troll’s M.O. is stealth. They appear harmless. In the guise of “concern,” the troll infiltrates the website, seeming helpful, but their true intention is not to help, but to disrupt the community, dialogue or morale on the site. They probably know little if anything about the subject matter and their complaints are of a general nature. Their “concern” makes them feel superior. Concern trolls are probably narcissistic or even psychopathic, and their self-righteous “concern” makes them feel superior. Any attempt to pin them down and explain their “concerns” in greater detail or a request to explain the topic being discussed will usually cause them to disappear, but they’re likely to reappear under a “sockpuppet” account (another handle). The sockpuppet may be more aggressive in their trolling behavior and may even bully individual members or make openly hostile remarks about the site or its subject matter. A troll’s goal is to destroy the online community in the usual manner: by making its members leave the site.

The Triangulator.

triangleman

This is a dangerous troll who who pits people against each other by sending private messages containing lies about another user. It’s an online form of the triangulating that psychopaths and narcissists do. They are almost always found on social media and forums. I’ll give a hypothetical example of what a Triangulator does. Let’s say Lisa and Brian are online friends. The Triangulator (let’s call him John) befriends both Lisa and Brian. One day John sends Lisa a PM saying Brian told him that Brian thinks she’s dumb (he never said this). Lisa gets mad and sends Brian a PM saying her feelings are hurt that he went behind her back and told John she was dumb. Brian says he never told John he thought she was dumb, and he doesn’t think she’s dumb anyway. Lisa isn’t sure who to believe, so the trust between her and Brian is compromised. John then sends Brian a PM telling him Lisa thinks Brian acts like a know it all (she never said this). When Brian talks to Lisa and she tells him she never said this, he isn’t sure who to believe and the trust between them is compromised. The Triangulator can destroy a friendship this way, and that’s exactly what he wants to accomplish. By using this tactic, Triangulators can totally break down communication on a site and cause regular users to defect.

Don’t feed the trolls.

Trolls are simply narcissists who derive pleasure upsetting and destroying a healthy online community. If you can’t ban them yourself, the best way to deal with a troll is to report them to the admin or if that isn’t possible, ignore them.

Earlier articles about online bullies and trolls:
Internet Psychopaths: the difference between Trolls and Bullies
Internet Trolls are Psychopaths

Internet psychopaths: the difference between trolls and bullies

troll

In my last post about Internet trolls and bullies, I failed to make a clear distinction between the two, but there are differences. They do overlap, but one can be a bully without being a troll or even a psychopath (though all trolls are also bullies and probably all psychopaths).

I started to explain the difference in the comments section, but decided the distinction was important enough to write a post.

Internet trolls are more likely to appear singly (or sometimes as a group) and invade a website or forum with incendiary comments, insults against members or the entire community, and use profanity and namecalling to intimidate the regular posters. Their intent is to destroy the forum or website by running the regular members off. All too often it works, as what happened with the political forum I discussed in my earlier post, where at first the occasional troll would be quickly banned by the moderator and the forum would go back to normal. Once the moderator left and no replacement was made, trolls realized they would not be silenced and could stir the pot all they wished without any repercussions. Forum members tried attacking the trolls, but this was exactly what the trolls were looking for. Soon more trolls joined, and as of now the forum is nearly dead and almost all its regular members have left. Sadly, on that site, the trolls have won. Because their primary intent is to upset or run off the members and ultimately destroy the site, trolls are psychopathic in their behavior.

Like real life psychopaths, trolls will occasionally “love bomb” the site or its members, in order to gain trust and avoid getting banned before systematically destroying or damaging the site. Whether or not they act this way off the Internet doesn’t really matter. Most serial killers act perfectly normal when going about their daily business (John Wayne Gacy was an upstanding citizen, a respected businessman and philanthropist, and entertained children in hospitals dressed as a clown), but have a “secret life” that involves killing for pleasure. A troll is like the cyber version of a serial killer–probably perfectly normal acting off the webs, but using the Internet as a means to murder ideas and honest discussion and debate. In both cases, their intentions are destructive and evil. They also have in common a taste for sadism: both trolls and serial killers love witnessing the destruction they create and get pleasure from making others suffer.

Internet-tough-guy-troll

Internet bullies are more common than trolls, and are especially common on forums and social media, where they can easily gang up on one or more members they disagree with or perceive as vulnerable or sensitive. Because they operate in groups (or more aptly, swarms), just as on a school playground, there is probably a “ringleader”–a central bully that eggs on or coerces others to join in the bullying behavior. The ringleader is almost certainly psychopathic or narcissistic and derives pleasure not only from making a target suffer but also from the admiration and respect they gain from their sycophants. Lesser bullies who join the fray may not actually be psychopaths or even narcissistic. Some may not even enjoy bullying that much, but do so to appear to “fit in” or look cool. They are likely to be very young and probably lacking self esteem, so joining a team of bullies to gang up against a targeted member makes them feel like they’re part of a powerful group. It’s a kind of gang mentality: not all gang members are psychopathic or sociopathic, but join the gang to feel like they’re part of something important that gives them a sense of power and respect they might not otherwise be able to attain.

Internet bullies, unlike trolls, usually agree with the forum or site’s prevailing opinions. Their targets are usually:
–newbies
–members who appear to be hypersensitive or divulge too much personal information
–members whose opinions are different from the “accepted” opinions on that site.

Bullies, as members of an established online community, are less likely to name-call, use profanity, and make incendiary comments than trolls, but they are more likely to intimidate their targets by using snark, inside jokes, sarcasm, and subtle put downs intended to make the target uneasy without quite knowing why. If the target tries to call them out or ask them to stop, the bullies can easily proclaim innocence or tell the target they are just being paranoid or imagining things. It’s basically online gaslighting and it’s very crazymaking.

One of the most disturbing things bullies sometimes do is stalk their targets online–if one of the bullies has a little technical knowledge or is a mod or admin themselves (or is friends with a mod or admin), it’s easy enough to obtain the IP address of the target, and follow them everywhere they go on the web. They can then copy personal information the target has posted elsewhere and use it against them, either by reposting it on their site or mentioning the information in discussion. Sometimes trolls do this too, but since they’re more likely to be operating alone and not likely to be n contact with an admin who would have the IP address, it’s less likely they would cyberstalk someone unless they have hacking ability.

I hope this has cleared up a few things about the differences between bullies and trolls. They’re not exactly the same but both can create a great deal of havoc and misery for the people who have to deal with them.