Monthly Archives: November 2016

Denying a Troll His Fix

img_0826One of the hallmarks of a troll is that he (it’s always a he) becomes extremely uncomfortable when the person he intends to annoy does not respond to him. Again, I claim some authority here because I was once a troll. Actually, I was accused of being a troll but at the time I did not consider myself as such. I saw myself as a simple member of a Star Trek message board community who decided to give a certain bully named Admiralbill a taste of his own medicine. But for some reason the other members of the board seemed to side with him. That was how I came to be labeled as a troll and as I came to find out once a person has been labeled a troll it is very difficult for him to shed that label. But I digress.

As I said, trolls do not like to be ignored. I can remember times I issued a zinger against Admiralbill and sat waiting for his response. I remember the rush of adrenaline anticipating him flying off the hammer as he had done so many times before. I lived for that feeling. There were, however, a few times when he did not respond which resulted in the reverse effect. I would compulsively refresh the screen over and over. I became irritable and agitated. Eventually an anger would well inside of me. Obviously, this emotional reaction resulted because Admiralbill’s non response triggered something inside of me. An old, unconscious pattern played itself out in a new form.

Unconsciousness is another hallmark of a troll. That is, the troll is typically unconscious of his own motivations. He wants to describe his actions as a crusade for truth or righteousness or some such. When I fought with Admirallbill I saw myself as standing up for those other members of the message board who could no defend themselves for example. But what any troll is really doing when he attacks his victim is replaying a drama that had once been played upon him. More basically, what he is doing is getting off on and becoming addicted to the endorphins that get release every time he engages in his trolling behavior.

In a sense, when the object of a troll’s desires refuses to respond to him it is like parent stealing the stash of heroine from his or her addicted son. Once that juvenile mind who is anticipating a high discovers that he will not get his fix he becomes angry and lashes out. This is the first phase of the withdrawal process.

It is tough medicine indeed for the object of the troll to deny the troll the fix he needs. On one level this is a satisfying way to fight back against the troll because there is satisfaction in knowing that the troll is justly experiencing pain as punishment for his previous actions. On another level this experience is what the troll needs. He needs to learn that his actions are evil and carry consequences. On the highest level, the troll may gain insight into himself. Through the process of being denied his fix he may come to realize the dynamic at play. He may come to recognize the old pattern that he had been unconsciously playing out over and over again. He just might become aware of his true motivations. It is probably only through this awareness that the troll will ever be able to reform himself.

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The Requirement of Beliefs Part II

pxA few posts ago I explored the topic that some religions require belief in order to receive or achieve salvation. The word “salvation” can take on different forms depending on the religion. For this reason, I am using the term loosely in the present context. Having personally been brought up in the Roman Catholic form of Christianity I approach this topic from that perspective but really my question as to why this belief is required is not strictly limited to Christian dogma. In the blog post I specifically referenced chapter 3 verse 26 in The Book of John which reads, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” To properly explore this topic it is first necessary to examine what a belief is.
Beliefs are essentially ideas or thoughts in the mind. Accordingly, the question behind the exploration has to do with why would the gatekeeper of salvation care whether its adherents experienced these thoughts called beliefs? If the gatekeeper of salvation is divine and not dependent upon any external factors for its existence why would it be so interested in this one particular external factor? I suppose one answer to the question is that the belief is for the benefit of the person trying to achieve salvation and not for the benefit of the divine dispenser of salvation. But John 3:36 expressly states that not believing brings about the “wrath of God” which implies that God has some stake in this thought called a belief existing in the mind of that person seeking salvation. This could be metaphorical language but that is not at all certain. As such the question remains unanswered.
It must be understood that I am not questioning whether these beliefs are valid. I am simply questioning why these beliefs are required. If the comment section of Part I is any indication, this distinction seems to be difficult to understand for some people. Interestingly, the personality type represented in the comment section seems to be very threatened by any exploration of this topic. A perusal of the comment section of Part I of this blog will provide examples of this. For questioning this requirement of belief I was accused of hating God. My question was rephrased as an argument on my part that hating God should carry no consequences and that the actual consequence for making this argument (that I did not make) was my own annihilation. These counterarguments (made against an argument I never made) were written in sporadic ALL CAPS which gave the impression that this commenter’s emotions were raised and that his emotion guided his rhetoric. Also notice that the emphasis on the counterargument was not the merits of the requirement of belief itself but rather on how I was wrong as a person for even asking the question. Another interesting point is that this accuser denied John 3:36 even expresses a requirement for belief in the first place. I think any reasonable person would read this passage to require belief in the Son in order to have eternal life. Moreover, the passage also clearly expresses that if this requirement is not met then a punishment will be meted out. But the commenter seemed to argue that interpreting this passage as expressing a requirement was somehow in error although he did not clearly articulate a logical foundation for this point.
Mind you, I do not want to engage in another pointless debate with this person because I have been down this road so many times on this blog and it is indeed pointless. Accordingly any comment he posts will be deleted. The only reason I brought him up was to provide an example of the egoic push back this question receives. This quality of being threatened when beliefs are questioned seems to be emblematic of the ego. The fact that the ego seems so invested in belief makes the requirement of belief for salvation questionable in my mind. Let me be clear. I am NOT questioning the validity of beliefs or really whether the reason for the requirement is sound. I simply do not understand the reason why this requirement exists and am exploring this lack of understanding by articulating the thoughts that come to mind as I explore it. (I have no illusion this distinction will be meaningful to everyone who reads it).
I think it can be argued that questioning beliefs or faith can lead to a deepening of beliefs. An unquestioned belief has a shaky foundation because it has not tested itself against the facts that may disprove it. As such, the unquestioned belief has no defenses to these facts. However, a belief that has been tested against facts that might disprove it has been inoculated against those facts. But really, this argument is just intellectual play. It is the reinforcing of beliefs (which are thoughts) with other beliefs and thoughts. It becomes circular after a while and brings a person who engages in this sort of thing only so close  to the truth. So again I arrive at the question, why is there the requirement of belief and why are there those who are so egoically invested in keeping this requirement unquestioned?
There are examples of Saints who have questioned their beliefs. Saint Mother Teresa wrote on numerous occasions about how she questioned her beliefs. Saint Thomas the apostle of Jesus also questioned belief without direct proof. Jesus castigated him for this when he said “…Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29). Again we see this emphasis on belief and from the same gospel to boot. Interestingly, in the Gnostic tradition, Thomas is revered for his questioning attitude. Equally interesting is the fact that Gnosticism was declared a heresy by orthodox Christianity.
So the question exists. Why is there a requirement of belief for salvation? Moreover, there also exists a force which is interested in blocking this question. Why this dynamic exists I do not know. But I think there can be no sin in asking a question. I think this is true because logically, no amount of questioning can undermine the truth for the reason that the answers to these questions (if truthful) should only serve to reinforce the truth. I suppose one could counter argue that by asking questions and receiving false answers one could be misled to a dangerous place. But if that is the case, then these unquestioned beliefs are robotic and lack authentism. If God requires belief then I have to think that He would want a whole hearted belief that has been tested and found to be true as opposed to a belief that was adopted for no reason or because the believer was socially pressured into believing.

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Election 2016

img_0790There seems to be a lot of emotion erupting in response to the election of the 45th President of the United States. It also seems to be the case that this emotion has been festering beneath the surface for some time now. The country is divided between two political / cultural camps that are growing more inflexible and further apart every year.

There are anti-Trump protesters taking to the streets. Perhaps this is what they need to do to vent their emotion to prevent a bottle up and an even more violent explosion. There are those observers (both liberals and conservatives) who say these protesters should just get over it because Trump won under the rules of the game and complaining about it after the fact does not accomplish anything. There are those who say we should amend the constitution to remove the electoral college. There are those who are elated that Trump struck a blow against the PC liberals who have dominated the political landscape for too long. There are those who remind us that at the end of the day we are all Americans. There are also those who did not vote for Trump but who are willing to see how things will shake out. I am sure there are many other iterations but these are the ones that come to my mind as most prominent.

I cannot help but feel a little detached from the whole thing. I voted for Hillary and was pretty confident that she was going to win. On election day I was surprised and disappointed that she lost. I felt bad for her and for President Obama whom I admire a great deal. I have a hard time seeing the host of Celebrity Apprentice as the 45th President of the United States. There is something about this situation that seems a little off to me. I do not want him to roll back the progress made on environmental legislation and the Affordable Care Act. I am uncomfortable with Trump’s apparent association with hate groups. I am uncomfortable with the lashing out of these hate groups after Trump won the election. I wonder why they are lashing out since the election produced the result they were looking for. I am processing a lot of emotions and thoughts but on the whole I feel detached from the whole situation.

I guess I would say that I am willing to see where this thing goes. I find it interesting from a cultural and historical prospective. I also find it interesting and entertaining from a human drama perspective. But for some reason (and maybe this is a good thing) I just cannot get emotionally invested to the point where I would want to protest or even speak up the way many of the people I know are doing.

I find myself strangely drawn to Trump’s youngest son Barron. Whenever I see him on TV he looks uncomfortable and scared. I feel sorry for him and I am not entirely sure why. Yes he looks painfully uncomfortable and I have compassion for him in that regard. But I also suspect on some level he embodies the apprehensive mindset that describes the half of the country who did not vote for Trump.

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Things I Learned Dealing With a Troll

picThe key aspect of trolling is a lack of impulse control. The true troll cannot help responding to a post or comment he (or she but I suspect most likely he) interprets as insulting or morally incorrect according to his troll sensibilities. This lack of impulse control indicates that the troll is addicted to his behavior. That is, the reward neural pathways in his brain have developed through previous trolling behavior to the extent where it is very difficult for him to resist the urge. From this perspective, trolling is a legitimate mental disorder.

In addition to this lack of impulse control is an ignorance of his true motivations. He wants to believe that he is “opposing evil” but in reality he is truly motivated to get that endorphin rush his brain releases when he judges other people. It is this endorphin rush that creates the addictive behavior. Along with this chemical reinforcement, psychologically, by judging other people he makes himself feel better about himself by placing his self image hierarchically above the object of his judgment.

It seems self-evident that this need to improve his self image proceeds from the reality that his self image is unacceptably low. In other words he suffers from a lack of self esteem that he needs to rectify along with, most likely, a great deal of shame. Paradoxically this personality type is often associated with an over inflated ego to compensate.

Given this nexus of shame and ego it is not surprising that this personality type typically falls prey to ideologies he can use to inflate his ego and deflate his shame at the expense of others. The ego delights in comparing the self to others. As such, hierarchical ideologies can be particularly appealing to this mind type. Racial ideologies seem to be an obvious choice to make as an obvious and extremely basic point of comparison.

In the real world, the shame based egoist loves wearing a uniform displaying his rank. The Nazis and Ku Klux Klan come to mind as blatant examples.  Behind the safety of this shield he can feel free to judge others. By contrast, in the virtual world of the internet, the anonymity of message boards and comment sections of blogs serves a similar protective purpose. His rank in this instance, must be displayed through bullying and belligerence against those whom he judges.

I bring all this up for three reasons. The first reason is that I understand the mindset. I used to troll a message board because I felt I had been wronged by some of its members. At the time I felt very much like I was fighting the good fight but I now see that my true motivation was that I wanted to make those I felt wronged me feel the shame they made me feel. The second reason is that I have recently had the insightful experience of being trolled by a person who has been for the last year or so trolling my blog. His comments are legion. Feel free to look at other posts to see what I mean. The experience of being trolled has now given me the perspective of seeing this behavior from both sides. I truly feel like I have come to a more rounded understanding of what trolling is really about. At its heart it is a mental disorder and is not a pleasant place to exist. The troll mindset is obsessed. He is constantly thinking of new arguments to make and the next chance he can seize to shame his enemy (with the same shame he, himself is tortured with). It is an anxiety-ridden, dark and evil place to exist. I do not wish this on anyone, not even the troll in my comment section. This leads me to my third reason why I bring all this up. That reason being it is my intention to cease my communication with him on my blog going forward.

I wish to cease communication with him on my blog because it is an evil and negative business. It is evil because it is based in shame on both sides. Both of us are trying to shame the other both for the shame each of us has already inflicted upon the other and because of all the previous shame that has been inflicted upon us that the present shame calls forth. Accordingly, to continue with this behavior is to feed its energy and to make it grow. That is not what I want to do and so I will not do so anymore on this blog.

Accordingly, any comment he makes on this blog going forward will be deleted. There is a part of me that gets a charge out of trading barbs with him. But this charge is the endorphin rush of trolling that I described. Giving into this charge and acting on it repeatedly forges those neural pathways that give rise to addiction. I can pretend that I engage him because it amuses me but this only makes me like him and I do not want to be like him. The only difference is that I am aware of the dynamic at work and he apparently is not. That is why it is my moral responsibility to be the one to end this interaction on my blog.

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