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.

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Did you ever almost not post something…

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…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. 😉

Narcissism on the Internet: what Vaknin has to say

Narcissistic? Me?

Oh, hell. I’m going to milk this thing for all it’s worth at the moment. I admit it, I want this upward momentum to keep going for a little bit longer.

Let me start by confessing I’m just a wee bit star-struck because a somewhat famous person who writes about narcissism gave me validation and in doing so helped my blog become more visible, even though he’s a narcissist and we victims are all too aware what no-good gaslighting, manipulating, triangulating mind-fuckers narcissists are. I must remember that he IS a narc and is NOT my friend. I must not allow a few crumbs of flattery to somehow suck me into becoming some kind of online narcissistic supply to this man. I gotta keep it real.

But no worries: in a day or so (if not my next post), I’ll return to my regular scheduled programming and write a fluff post about something like kittens or a rant about fracking or toenail fungus.

In my second blog article about Sam Vaknin, he commented (when asked) that he did, in fact, Google himself (hey, don’t we all?) and that’s how he finds out which bloggers are writing about him. He provided an explanation as to why he looks himself up on Google and linked to his website. I decided to repost his journal entry because there’s a whole Pandora’s box of truth here, and whether we like it or not, there’s a little or even a lot of Narcissist in all of us who blog and find ourselves giddy with excitement when our blogs get views, likes, comments, or suddenly take off like 4th of July firecrackers.

WARNING: In typical Vaknin fashion, this post is extremely long winded. That said, it’s definitely worth your time to read the whole thing. There’s some great insights here that still apply today even though it appears to have been written some years ago.

Cyber (Internet) Narcissists and Psychopaths

To the narcissist, the Internet is an alluring and irresistible combination of playground and hunting grounds, the gathering place of numerous potential Sources of Narcissistic Supply, a world where false identities are the norm and mind games the bon ton. And it is beyond the reach of the law, the pale of social norms, the strictures of civilized conduct.

Indeed, many of the innovators who gave us the Internet and social networks can easily be described as narcissistic. Technology did not invent or even foster narcissism – rather, it was driven by it: an increasingly narcissistic populace demanded empowerment, self-expression, self-gratification, and self-aggrandisement via gadgets and software applications that catered to its pathology.

The somatic finds cyber-sex and cyber-relationships aplenty. The cerebral claims false accomplishments, fake skills, erudition and talents. Both, if minimally communicative, end up at the instantly gratifying epicenter of a cult of fans, followers, stalkers, erotomaniacs, denigrators, and plain nuts. The constant attention and attendant quasi-celebrity feed and sustain their grandiose fantasies and inflated self-image.

The Internet is an extension of the real-life Narcissistic Pathological Space but without its risks, injuries, and disappointments. It allows the narcissist to enact and act out his grandiose fantasies of omnipotence and omnipotence, brilliance and perfection, self-righteousness and superiority with impunity.
Many moderators and owners of discussion groups and support forums, for instance, are tyrannical narcissistic bullies with little or no impulse control and the tendency to form cult-like settings where the wayward are sadistically penalized and publicly humiliated by peers for speaking out of turn and in contravention of the “party line.”

In the virtual universe of the Web, the narcissist vanishes and reappears with ease, often adopting a myriad aliases and nicknames. He (or she) can thus fend off criticism, abuse, disagreement, and disapproval effectively and in real time – and, simultaneously, preserve the precarious balance of his infantile personality. Narcissists are, therefore, prone to Internet addiction.

The positive characteristics of the Net are largely lost on the narcissist. He is not keen on expanding his horizons, fostering true relationships, or getting in real contact with other people. The narcissist is forever the provincial because he filters everything through the narrow lens of his addiction. He measures others – and idealizes or devalues them – according to one criterion only: how useful they might be as Sources of Narcissistic Supply.

The Internet is an egalitarian medium where people are judged by the consistency and quality of their contributions rather than by the content or bombast of their claims. But the narcissist is driven to distracting discomfiture by a lack of clear and commonly accepted hierarchy (with himself at the pinnacle). He fervently and aggressively tries to impose the “natural order” – either by monopolizing the interaction or, if that fails, by becoming a major disruptive influence.

But the Internet may also be the closest many narcissists get to psychodynamic therapy. Because it is still largely text-based, the Web is populated by disembodied entities. By interacting with these intermittent, unpredictable, ultimately unknowable, ephemeral, and ethereal voices – the narcissist is compelled to project unto them his own experiences, fears, hopes, and prejudices.

Transference (and counter-transference) are quite common on the Net and the narcissist’s defence mechanisms – notably projection and Projective Identification – are frequently aroused. The therapeutic process is set in motion by the – unbridled, uncensored, and brutally honest – reactions to the narcissist’s repertory of antics, pretensions, delusions, and fantasies.

The narcissist – ever the intimidating bully – is not accustomed to such resistance. Initially, it may heighten and sharpen his paranoia and lead him to compensate by extending and deepening his grandiosity. Some narcissists withdraw altogether, reverting to the schizoid posture. Others become openly antisocial and seek to subvert, sabotage, and destroy the online sources of their frustration. A few retreat and confine themselves to the company of adoring sycophants and unquestioning groupies.

But a long exposure to the culture of the Net – irreverent, skeptical, and populist – usually exerts a beneficial effect even on the staunchest and most rigid narcissist. Far less convinced of his own superiority and infallibility, the online narcissist mellows and begins – hesitantly – to listen to others and to collaborate with them.

Ultimately, most narcissists – those who are not schizoid and shun social contact – tire of the virtual reality that is cyberspace. The typical narcissist needs “tangible” narcissistic supply. He craves attention from real, live, people, flesh and blood. He strives to see in their eyes their admiration and adulation, the awe and fear that he inspires, the approval and affirmation that he elicits.

There is no substitute to human contact, even for the narcissist. Many narcissists try to carry online relationships they nurtured into their logical extension and conclusion offline. Other burst upon the cyber scene intermittently, vanishing for long months, only to dive back in and reappear, reinvigorated. Reality beckons and few narcissists resist its siren call.

Narcissists, Social Media, and Porn

Social media, such as Tumblr.com, have become the playground of narcissists, psychopaths, and sadists who post extreme and, at times, illegal porn and revel in the reactions to it, thus garnering vicarious narcissistic supply. Via such postings, they express their rabid misogyny by objectifying women and subjecting them to humiliating subjugation and to aggression bordering on outright violence.

Yahoo and Tumblr’s protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, some of the content is illegal and can land even an accidental viewer in hot waters. Relatively innocuous search terms such as “family”, “wife”, “sister”, or “daddy” often yield sleazy and actionable photo and video results, displayed automatically on the user’s screen and saved to his or her browser cache without any warning or consent. Tumblr is not alone in this. Twitter and Facebook, although to a lesser degree, also host porn on a massive scale.

Porn addiction ties well with the narcissist’s fantasy sex life. Social media enable and legitimize a host of sexual fetishes and paraphilias, including pedophilia. Via these platforms, the narcissist finds an eager audience and a sense of empowerment and immunity, aided and abetted by his anonymity.

Interview granted to Misty Harris of CanWest on February 23, 2005

Q. How might technology be enabling narcissism, particularly for the Internet generation?

A. To believe that the Internet is an unprecedented phenomenon with unique social implications is, in itself, narcissistic. The Internet is only the latest in a long series of networking-related technological developments. By definition, technology is narcissistic. It seeks to render us omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent – in other words, Godlike.

The Internet allows us to replicate ourselves and our words (through vanity desktop publishing, blogs, and posting online content on Web sites), to playact our favorite roles, to communicate instantly with thousands (narrowcasting), to influence others, and, in general, to realize some of our narcissistic dreams and tendencies.

Q. Why is it a bad thing to have a high opinion of yourself?

A. It is not a bad thing if it is supported by commensurate achievements. If the gap between fantasy and reality is too big, a dysfunction that we call “pathological narcissism” sets in.

Q. What does it say about our culture that we encourage narcissistic characteristics in people? (example: Paris Hilton – we made her a star for loving herself)

A. Celebrity culture is not a new thing. It is not a culture-dependent phenomenon. Celebrities fulfil two emotional functions for their fans: they provide a mythical narrative (a story that the fan can follow and identify with) and they function as blank screens onto which the fans project their dreams, hopes, fears, plans, values, and desires (wish fulfilment).

Western culture emphasizes ambition, competitiveness, materialism, and individualism. These admittedly are narcissistic traits and give the narcissist in our society an opening advantage.

But narcissism exists in a different form in collectivist societies as well. As Theodore Millon and Roger Davis state in their seminal tome, “Personality Disorders in Modern Life”:

“In an individualistic culture, the narcissist is ‘God’s gift to the world’. In a collectivist society, the narcissist is ‘God’s gift to the collective'”.

Twitter: Narcissism or Age-old Communication?

It has become fashionable to castigate Twitter – the microblogging service – as an expression of rampant narcissism. Yet, narcissists are verbose and they do not take kindly to limitations imposed on them by third parties. They feel entitled to special treatment and are rebellious. They are enamored with their own voice. Thus, rather than gratify the average narcissist and provide him or her with narcissistic supply (attention, adulation, affirmation), Twitter is actually liable to cause narcissistic injury.

From the dawn of civilization, when writing was the province of the few and esoteric, people have been memorizing information and communicating it using truncated, mnemonic bursts. Sizable swathes of the Bible resemble Twitter-like prose. Poetry, especially blank verse one, is Twitterish. To this very day, newspaper headlines seek to convey information in digestible, resounding bits and bites. By comparison, the novel – an avalanche of text – is a newfangled phenomenon.

Twitter is telegraphic, but this need not impinge on the language skills of its users. On the contrary, coerced into its Procrustean dialog box, many interlocutors become inventive and creativity reigns as bloggers go atwitter.

Indeed, Twitter is the digital reincarnation of the telegraph, the telegram, the telex, the text message (SMS, as we Europeans call it), and other forms of business-like, data-rich, direct communication. Like them, it forces its recipients to use their own imagination and creativity to decipher the code and flesh it out with rich and vivid details. It is unlikely to vanish, though it may well be supplanted by even more pecuniary modes of online discourse.

Interview granted to Agencia Efe, Spain, April 2008

1. Does the Internet make a special amplification of narcissism or is just the reflection of reality? How, despite of the fact that many people is disturbed by the anonymous characters that you can adopt in the Internet, the exhibitionism is, maybe, more usual. I mean, in terms of narcissism? Can a person be addicted to the web because is own narcissism?

A. The narcissist likes to appear to be mysterious. It enhances his self-perceived sense of omnipotence, it renders him “unique” and “interesting”. The right moniker (Internet alias or handle) imbues the narcissist with a sense of immunity and superiority and permits him to commit the most daring or heinous acts.

2. What kind of lacks or necessities there are behind this behaviour? What are we expecting when we search our name on Google? Can we construct our image with the pieces of us in the internet?

A. The Internet is the hi-tech equivalent of a giant mirror. Like the mythical Narcissus, it allows us to fall in love with our reflection every day anew. We gaze into the depths of the Internet to reassure ourselves of our continuity and very existence. It is our modern photo album; a repository of snippets of our lives; and our external memory.

In psychoanalytic terms, the Internet replaces some of our ego functions: it regulates our sense of self-worth; puts us in touch with reality and with others; and structures our interactions (via its much vaunted peer-pressure of the Netiquette and the existence of editors and moderators).

We crave attention and feedback: proof positive that we matter, that someone cares about us, that we are not mere atoms in a disjointed and anomic Universe. In this sense, the Internet substitutes for God and many social functions by reassuring us that we fit into a World that, though amorphous and protean, is sustaining, predictable, constant, and nurturing. The Internet replaces our parents as a source of nourishment, support, caring, discipline, and omniscience.

3. In the case of the blogs, what’s the point in common in the idea of doing a private diary and be available for everybody?

A. I am not sure what you mean. Blogs are anything but private. They are explicitly meant for public consumption, thrive on public attention, and encourage interaction with the public (through the comments area). One can set one’s blog or online journal to “private”, though, as the hi-tech equivalent of a personal diary.

4. Internet, with their blogs, Facebook, Myspace or YouTube, has create the possibility of make yourself famous without promotion, just with the progressive diffusion of your material. Examples like the singers Mika and Lilly Allen or many bloggers, can it make a new way of realizing the “American dream” for the users of the Internet?

A. Being famous encompasses a few important functions: it endows us with power, provides us with a constant Source of Narcissistic Supply (admiration, adoration, approval, awe), and fulfils important Ego functions.

The Internet caters to our narcissistic traits and propensities and allows us to become “celebrities-by-replication”. The image that the blogger or artist projects is hurled back at him, reflected by those exposed to his instant celebrity or fame. By generating multiple copies of himself and his work, he feels alive, his very existence is affirmed and he acquires a sensation of clear boundaries (where he ends and the world begins).

There is a set of narcissistic behaviours typical to the pursuit of celebrity. There is almost nothing that the Net celebrity refrains from doing, almost no borders that he hesitates to cross to achieve renown. To him (or, increasingly, her), there is no such thing as “bad publicity”: what matters is to be in the public eye at any price.

Because narcissistic individuals equally enjoy all types of attention and like as much to be feared as to be loved, for instance – they don’t mind if what is published about them is wrong (“as long as they spell my name correctly”). The celebrity blogger or artist experiences bad emotional stretches only when he lacks attention, or publicity.

It is then that some bloggers, artists, and Webmasters plot, contrive, plan, conspire, think, analyse, synthesise and do whatever it takes to regain the lost exposure in the public eye. The more they fail to secure the attention of the target group (preferably, the entire Internet community), the more daring, eccentric and outlandish they become. A firm decision to become known is transformed into resolute action and then to a panicky pattern of attention seeking behaviours.

It is important to understand that the blogger/artist/Webmaster are not really interested in publicity per se. They appear to be interested in becoming a celebrity, but, in reality, they are concerned with the REACTIONS to their newly-acquired fame: people watch them, notice them, talk about them, debate their actions – therefore they exist.

5. There are many new applications to feed human narcissism on the net: Googlefight, Egosurf.org, the blogs themselves… Could be used narcissism as a business?

A. Every good business is founded on the mass psychology of its clientele. In a narcissistic civilization, business is bound to adapt and become increasingly more narcissistic. The Internet started off as an information exchange. The surge of (mainly American) users transformed it in profound ways. User-generated “content” is a thin veneer beneath which lurks the seething and pathological narcissism of the masses. Narcissism is our main business organizing principle outside the Internet as well: cosmetics, fashion, health, publishing, show business, the media, and the financial industries all rest on firm narcissistic foundations. The management class itself is highly narcissistic!

6. Can be satisfied the true and pathologic narcissism just with the feed-back on the Internet or it needs, finally, to put in “real” his power of attraction.

A. What’s not real about the Internet? This dichotomy between virtual and real is false. The Internet is as real as it gets and, for many of its users, it is the only reality and the only frame of reference. It is “reality” as we used to know it that is gradually vanishing and being replaced by “virtual” substitutes: print media are dying and giving way to blogs and online news aggregators; iTunes and Napster and BitTorrent and eMule are ruining the very physical music CD; there is more published on the Internet than is available in many brick and mortar libraries, and so on.

7. Could presence or non-presence in Internet create a new kind of social class?

A. Like every other social phenomenon, the Internet gave rise to a stratified society with hackers, crackers, nerds, geeks, Wikipedians, bloggers, etc. occupying various niches. Not using the Internet – a kind of Internet Luddism – may yet become a badge of honor. Internet addicts may become either outcasts or the new elite. Who knows? Everything digital is still in its formative years and still in flux.

8. How dangerous is narcissism, inside or outside the web?

A. Very dangerous. Just read the list of diagnostic criteria for the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD): the narcissist lacks empathy, is arrogant, exploits people, is envious, has a strong and unjustified sense of entitlement, and is obsessive and delusional. Many narcissists are also psychopaths. Pathological narcissism is often diagnosed with other mental health disorders (a phenomenon called “co-morbidity”). Narcissists are over-represented among criminals, gamblers, and people with reckless and inconsiderate behaviors.

Interview granted to About.com about Online Dating

1. In your opinion, why does the Internet seem to be an easy forum to fall in love?

A. Frequently, in online dating, the partners are treated as “blank screens” onto which the online dater projects her dreams, wishes, and unfulfilled needs and yearnings. The Internet allows the two sides to maintain an emotionally riskless intercourse by fully controlling the interaction with their interlocutors or correspondents. While thoroughly gratified, they are less likely to get hurt and feel less vulnerable because they invest – emotionally and otherwise – far less than in a full-fledged, “real” life liaison. Of course, they are usually disappointed when they try to flesh out their online fantasy by moving the relationship offline, “down to earth” and into “brick-and-mortar” venues.

2. Despite an online relationship being made up of text messages and pictures, why does it seem people more easily get into Internet relationships than they do in real life?

A. “Internet relationship” is an oxymoron. A relationship entails the existence of a physical dimension, time spent together, friction and conflict, the satisfaction of all the senses, and experiences shared. IM, chat, webcams, and the like can seemingly bring people closer and create the illusion of intimacy, but actually it is a narcissistic sham, an echo chamber, a simulacrum. People “fall in love” with their own reflections and with idealized partners, not with the real items. Their counterparty is merely a peg on which they hang their desire for closeness, a sounding board. It is like watching a film: one can be moved to tears by what is happening on the screen, but very few confuse the flickering lights with reality itself.

3. What dangers are there in falling in love online?

A. Online “love” is not love at all and, therefore, it is less prone to heartbreak and disappointment. The parties fully control their side of the interaction and limit it at will. The information exchanged is doctored and there is no way of verifying it (for instance, by paying attention to body language and social cues). Online “love” is more akin to infatuation, comprised of equal measures fantasy and narcissism. The parties fall in love with the idea of falling in love: the actual online partner is rather incidental. The extant technology dictates the solipsistic and self-centered nature of these exchanges.
Online dating is inherently unsafe as it affords no way to ascertain the identity of your interlocutor or correspondent. When you date online, you are missing out on critical information such as your potential partner’s body language; the pattern of his social interactions; his behavior in unexpected settings and circumstances; his non-scripted reactions; even his smell and how he truly looks, dresses, and conducts himself in public and in private. The dangers, like in real life, is when one comes across a predator: a psychopath, a stalker, or a bully. Click on this link to learn how to avoid these people: How to Recognize a Narcissist or Psychopath Before It is Too Late?

4. What tips can you share with readers who have fallen in love online and have been burnt by the rejection of a breakup online who might do it again?

A. The Internet is merely a sophisticated, multimedia communication channel, a glorified videophone. “Distance relationships” don’t work. Real, lasting, emotionally-rewarding relationships that lead to happiness and personal growth require propinquity, familiarity, intimacy, and sacrifices. Don’t make the Internet your exclusive dating venue and don’t use it to shield you from life itself . Deploy it merely to find information and reach out and, on the first opportunity, log off and go out there to confront multidimensional reality with all its complexity and ambiguities. Do not use the Internet to fend off potential hurt: there is no growth without pain and no progress without experience.

5. Despite some problems, do you think the Internet should be sworn off as a means of finding love?
A. Online dating is a great tool for people who, for various reasons, have limited access to other dating options or venues where you can date “real” people face-to-face, instead of mere avatars.

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.

Internet trolls are psychopaths

internet-troll

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.
trolls

“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.

How to Deal With an Adult Bully

I just came across this article about how to handle adult bullies. There are more of them out there than we realize. Sadly, bullying is NOT just for kids, but we don’t have take their crap either.
Also, the blogger who wrote this is one of the many who deserves to be noticed a lot more than they are. I’m a new blogger and was having the same problem (and may still have it). Earlier today, I had the good fortune of a popular blogger reblogging my rant about not having enough followers, and now I’m getting so many comments, likes and new follows I feel like I’m dreaming. So I hope this blogger doesn’t mind if I pay it forward, even though I’m not exactly a “popular” blogger yet.
Enjoy!

Latter Day Left

Just don’t.  Standing up for yourself will not stop them.  Reasoning with them will not stop them.  Even ignoring them does not stop them.

I have many conservative friends on my Facebook account.  I know some are right-winged due to their repeated political posts which I often disagree with. However, I rarely feel attacked when I respond. But one (I’ll call him “Buck”) was blocked some time ago because his comments are often hateful,mean-spirited, flat out cruel, and always politically motivated. I decided I was best not seeing his posts, so I kept him as a friend and blocked his activities. That was not the smartest thing for me to do, because I could still see his responses to politically motivated posts of mutual friends.

I’ll call one mutual friend Ed.  Ed’s a great guy; I’ve always liked him, and even when we disagree, we remain friendly.  Buck has never been this way. I think Buck bullies…

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