Category Archives: Trolling

The Mentality Behind Baiting and Trolling

BOANIn my last post entitled “How to Increase Traffic to Your Blog” I wrote that one method to increase traffic is to “Bait a White Supremacist.” I wrote this in part because the biggest spike in traffic I ever received throughout the history of my blog was when I was interacting on a regular basis with a person who calls himself “Thordaddy” and self-identifies as a white supremacist. But honestly, I wrote this in large part to bait Thordaddy into responding to my blog. In a very ego gratifying series of events he did in fact respond and now we are engaged in the same type of dialog we were before that did so much to increase the amount of viewers of this blog a few months back. See the comment section to my previous post.

I suppose I must admit this baiting occurred in a moment of weakness on my part. There is a still a strong part of me that likes to engage with shame based people like Thordaddy and get them angry because it amuses me to do so. I am certainly not proud of this and I make no excuses. This is the essence (I believe) of trolling, judgmental-ism, racism and all other addictive behavior. In a sense it serves two goals. The first is immediate gratification. It physically feels good. Perhaps this is the brain releasing endorphins as a reward for behavior which it believes to serve the survival instinct. The second goal is psychological. It makes the ego feel superior to the one it has shamed. Both these motivations are base motivations in that neither one serves the ultimate good. I firmly believe this despite how seductive they might seem at times.

The other point I would like to make about our most recent interaction is how easy it is for a shame based mindset to create a world around itself that feels very real. I see this in the way that he has redefined common words to suit his purposes but then reacts with incredulity when other people have no idea what he is talking about. I see this most recently in his pretentious, pseudo-logical ramblings that are designed (I assume) to sound authoritative but have no basis in logic. He will defend this world to the death because in a very real sense the death of that world he created means his own annihilation.

These are all shame based (i.e., ego based) characteristics. They are hyper-judgmental, paranoid, defensive and always carry with them an undercurrent of jealousy, rage and nastiness. How do I know this? Because I used to be this way and I recognize it in him. I suppose I still am this way to a little extent as is evidenced by the amusement I experienced when he so readily took the bait I set out for him.

Again, I am not proud of this but it is my goal on this blog to be honest so there it is.

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Similarities between Trolls and Terrorists

OBLIt occurred to me recently that internet trolls and terrorists share certain distinct qualities. This idea came to me when I realized that the victims of trolls and terrorists always have the same response. This response is to question why trolls and terrorists do what they do. Specifically they ask themselves, “Why they do they hate us?” Often the victims explain the actions of the trolls and terrorists by labeling them as evil or simply jerks. I am certainly not here to argue that these labels are inappropriate. But I do think they demonstrate a lack of understanding on the victim’s part as to what is truly motivating the trolls and terrorists.

I think I have a good idea what motivates an internet troll because I have acted as one in the past. Although I have never committed an act of terrorism it seems reasonable to speculate that the terrorist’s motivations are the same as the troll’s motivation because the actions of both terrorists and trolls have the same effect on their victims. That is, their actions are designed to make their victims suffer in and of itself.

When I was a troll (or when I was accused of being a troll) I felt like I was being mistreated by the people who dominated the Star Trek message board on which I was an active member. (See my book “Shame and Internet Trolling” for more details). There was one politically conservative guy on the message board named Admiralbill who I felt was particularly nasty and condescending to people who had the audacity to question the George W. Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq. I took it upon myself to passive-aggressively attack him with sarcastic remarks and by posting articles on topics I knew would make him angry. I was not particularly liberal at the time but I was willing to advocate the liberal argument to achieve my goals. The administration of the board sided with him and so I began arguing with them until they eventually banned me. When I look back upon my actions I can see that I was chiefly motivate to make both Admiralbill and the board administration suffer. In fact I took pleasure from doing so.

But there is another aspect to this behavior in that both trolling and terrorism are unconscious acts. They are unconscious in the sense that the perpetrators of both acts (I believe) are unconscious of their true motivations. It is my contention based upon my own experience that a person who derives pleasure from making other people suffer feels this way because someone else derived pleasure from making them suffer. In other the feel compelled to repeat this behavior because they are addicted to the feelings it evokes in them.

Because trolls and terrorists are unaware of (or unwilling to admit) their true motivations they tend to cloak their behavior in righteousness. When I trolled I argued that I was defending the liberals from Admiralbill’s abuse. Admiralbill argued that conservatism was rational and by contrast liberalism was irrational. (Although I admit my behavior was troll-like I suspect Admiralbill also share my motivations. This motivation to cloak this behavior in righteousness is probably why terrorism and religion attract each other in many cases. Other examples of this that come to mind are Michael Voris the snarky, condescending and judgmental producer of the Church Militant videos available on Youtube as well as the white supremacist Thordaddy who stalked my blog some months back. Both seem to take pleasure in judging and shaming others while at the same time cloaking their behavior in righteousness and religion. It is my contention that all these examples as well as the terrorists in Al Qaeda and ISIS are all similarly unaware of their true motivations. And they must remain unaware of their true motivations in order to continue with their behavior. I believe this to be true because in my own experience once I became aware that I was simply repeating the abuse I once suffered I realize that it is the cycle in which I was trapped that is evil and not the people upon which I sought to perpetuate the cycle. Once I realized this my motivation to continue with the behavior disappeared.

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Shame and Internet Trolling

Check out my newly published eBook entitled Shame and Internet Trolling.

“Shame and Internet Trolling” is about my life journey through shame and how it led to me becoming an internet troll. The book is divided into three parts. In part one I discuss my life history up until I began trolling as it relates to my experience of shame. In part two I discuss my experience trolling, how it felt and the methods I employed. In part three I discuss the series of experiences that brought me out of shame and internet trolling.

 

SHAME AND INTERNET TROLLING 1562 x 2500 pixels

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Things I’ve Been Accused of on Message Boards

Admiralbill frequently accused me of baiting him. That is, he accused me making posts designed to get him upset and react by responding to my post in an angry manner. He was right. I frequently posted articles in the politics section of Sistertrek.net that made the Republican party look bad. Since Admiralbill was a rabid, conservative Republican I could be sure of him responding. Since I enjoyed making him angry, that made me a troll. He called me a troll especially towards the end. He was right about that also. There is no doubt that I deliberately posted inflammatory articles for the purpose of starting arguments with him. Of course I denied this was what I was doing as all respectable trolls would do.

On another message board I joined, this guy Actionjeans accused me of being a clone pretty soon after I joined. This surprised me because I had not done anything yet to piss anyone off. I guess he thought that I was actually someone else who was operating a second avatar for the purposes of providing support to his first avatar. This was a false accusation but he was able to convince other people on the message board that my avatar was a clone. Another person, a friend of Actionjeans, accused me of being a sock puppet which I am guessing is essentially the same thing. When I tried to defend myself by denying these accusations they said I was acting just like the guy they thought I was a clone of.

Based on my prior experience on Sistertrek I decided to pull out my big guns and embrace being a troll. I fancied myself Obi Wan Kenobi, an aged master who had been living in the desert for years and suddenly compelled to come out of retirement, use his seasoned skills and fight the good fight. I made posts designed to anger my accusers. I asked them questions designed to put them on the defensive. I was relentless. It was then that they accused me of being a stalker. I did not like this accusation, so I suppose it was correct. The accusation had the effect of deflating the feeling of wise old master. Stalker seemed much less respectable. I felt ashamed of myself. But I could not stop trying to bait them because I was addicted to the rush I got when I posted something inflammatory. So, in a private message, I asked the moderator to ban me. He did not oblige me at first so then I went all out trying to make Actionjeans angry. After a few days of this the moderator banned me. At that point I could detox from the message board and get myself clean again.

That was my last experience trolling. For a long time I had the urge to get back in the game. I would think about Admiralbill and Actionjeans and get angry and wonder why they came out looking like the good guys and I came out looking like the bad guy. But the longer I did not troll the easier it became until that anger finally went away.

 

Read my ebook Shame and Internet Trolling. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks.

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Once a Troll, Always a Troll

I felt like trolling was a waste of time but I was compelled to do it.  That is why I had to get myself banned from the message board.  There should be a rehab for trolling just as is for drug addiction.  In reality internet trolling is every bit addicting as drugs are.  Sometimes I think of all the trolls who cannot force themselves to stop.  It is probably ruining their lives because getting back at these people who wronged them on the message board is all that a troll can think about.  When I trolled I constantly and compulsively checked the board for a response to my posts and fearing a response to my posts at the same time.  It became incredibly draining emotionally and at the same time it took top priority in my life.

I remember being really angry when another poster got the better of me but I tried hard not to let that show.  I am sure Admiralbill was doing that as well but he had a very thin skin so he was not very successful.  I remember how fun it was (and depressing) to get him to blow up.  This point must be emphasized: a troll has to put forth the image that nothing affects him and that he thinks it is funny how his victims cannot control their emotions.  Meanwhile, the troll is a simmering volcano.  So on the one hand there is this aspect of a troll’s personality that really gets off on making other people angry (the limbic system / ego I suppose) then there is this other aspect that tells the troll this is wrong (the prefrontal cortex / super ego).  Meanwhile the troll’s true-self sleeps in the background somewhere.  The deeper a troll gets into trolling (or any addiction) the deeper his true-self sinks into sleep and the harder it will be to eventually wake him up.

I remember being infuriated when someone did not respond to a bait.  At the same time I knew my targets well and was confident they would take the bait eventually.  In fact, that was how they became targets in the first place.  They were so reliable.  I knew Admiralbill was a Republican, ex-navy guy, from Texas.  So I knew that posting any article on any of those subjects would get him going especially if they made any of those institutions look even remotely bad.  The Republican thing was easy because there was always an article on global warming, President Bush, the wars, the economy, the debt etc.  If I was advising a neophyte troll I would suggest he read a prospective victim’s posts and find out the things that define this victim.  Then post an article that puts any one of those things in a bad light.  When they react stick with the issues in the article until they get personal.  When this happens, claim only to want to stick to the issues rather than debase yourself by getting personal.  Of course making things personal is precisely the point but this can never be admitted.  It is totally passive aggressive and dishonest.  It is claiming not to be doing what is obviously being done.  This is the essence of shame-based behavior.

I did relapse a couple of times after I was banned from Sistertrek.  Once I came back with the handle “The Gnostic” but everyone on the message board knew it was me immediately.  They let me stay (I think because I made things interesting) until I got banned a second time.  Every now and then I feel the urge to go back but I think I have got it pretty well under control at this point.  I can see myself easily falling back into that behavior so now when I feel the urge I can usually talk myself out of it.  I am sure one day I will relapse again.  Once a troll, always a troll.

 

Read my ebook Shame and Internet Trolling. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks.

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The Psychology of a Troll

I spent quite a bit of time baiting Admiralbill.  I think it was more than five years before I was banned from the website.  By the time that happened I wanted to be banned.  I needed to end the endless cycle.  It drained my energy.  I was constantly thinking of new ways to piss him off.  To this day part of me still hates how mean and self-righteous he was.  It is enough motivation for me to vote Democrat knowing that in some small way it gets back at him.

There is definitely an addictive cycle when it comes to trolling.  First there is the exhilaration of making a smart post that proves my enemy wrong or makes him look foolish.  Next, and this is usually after he responds with something I did not expect or perhaps a thread has gone on too long and both of us look foolish, self-loathing kicks in.  Self-loathing, of course does not feel good.  It inspired in me a new resolve never to take part in these foolish exchanges again.  Then slowly the compulsion to get back in the game reemerges.  All it would take was a Paul Krugman article that I found particularly persuasive and I was back in.  The exhilaration is the drug that for a moment takes away the pain I feel during the 90% of the rest of the addictive cycle.

I can really only speak for myself but I am pretty sure all internet trolls share a common personality type.  They probably work jobs or live lives that are in someway unsatisfying.  They want to feel special and crave attention and respect.  They are highly dependent on the opinions of other people.  When other people ganged up on Admiralbill I felt vindicated and victorious.  When they ganged up on me I felt defeated and humiliated.  And this is really at the heart of the matter, a message board troll feels intense shame.  It is shame that motivates him to shame others.

My original goal as a troll was to get Admiralbill angry and responding to me.  My secondary goal was to get other people to take my side.  On some level I was operating under the delusion that if I said the right thing, made the strategic argument he would admit he was wrong.  He was probably operating under the same premise.

There are three possible outcomes to any message board debate.  One, the other person concedes defeat.  This never happens but I suppose it is possible.  The closest thing to this is that you get the last word in that digs at them and they do not respond.  Two, you get ganged up on by everyone else and your allies run for cover.  This is defeat, although a true troll will never admit this and will argue that he is being treated unfairly or is misunderstood in some fashion.  Three, the moderator steps in and shuts the thread down.  This is actually a relief sometimes.  When this happens the troll can say to himself that he never gave up and fought the good fight (force majeure).  If I got the last word in before the thread was shut down and before he got a chance to respond, it felt as good as any victory.  If my adversary got the last word in, it stung but I could still say it was out of my hands.

As I said earlier when I got banned from Sistertrek I wanted to get banned.  I could not simply walk away and never post again.  My addiction was too strong.  So I dug at the moderators until they banned me.  It worked and that was a few years ago.  To this day I still think about it and hate Admiralbill.  But every day I do not participate in Sistertrek the hatred goes away a little bit more.  I actually logged on to Sistertrek anonymously to see what was going on not too long ago.  The website is basically run by conservatives and they kicked off all the liberals some time ago.  It is a shell of the community it once was.  There are no longer any lively debates as far as I can tell.  This sort of makes me nostalgic for the good old days.

 

Read my ebook Shame and Internet Trolling. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks.

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Trolling Methods

Admiralbill (my nemesis on the Sistertrek message board) had many, easy buttons I knew how to push that would easily bait him into an argument.  All of his buttons revolved around the fact that he was a rabid, George W. Bush defending, Fox News watching, Rush Limbaugh listening, conservative Republican.  The following is a list of those buttons:

1.         I would post a news article that tended to put the Republican / Conservatives in a bad light.  I would add no comments but simply sit back and watch the debate unfold.  This was obviously intended to push Admiralbill’s buttons but I could always argue that I thought the article was interesting and might stimulate a healthy political discussion.  It had the effect of putting him on the defense because he felt compelled to respond to it.

2.         I would then keep him tired and on the defensive.  I did this by responding quickly and concisely.  In general (not just with Admiralbill) when I did post commentary I would keep it short and only address one particular point.  I always found it funny when other posters got so worked up over something and took the time to write a long drawn out diatribe responding to every single point in a previous post.  I would just choose one point to refute or agree with.  This had the effect negating all the work the diatribe attempted to make.  I conserved my energy with small posts that took me ten minutes to craft they exhausted themselves with long ones that took an hour.  The longer they take to respond, the more rest I have and the more agitation they felt to get a response out.

3.         I usually asked questions in my responses.  This also put Admiralbill on the defensive because he felt compelled to respond to a direct question and the question framed his response.  Thus he never set the tone because he was always responding to the tone I set.  These questions also had the effect of pissing him off.  I naturally asked questions to begin with not thinking this was strategy but once I realized he did not like it I did it more.

4.         If Admiralbill accused me of baiting or trolling I would always deny, deny, deny.  This is probably the most important tip for any would be troll out there.  Nothing angers other posters more than when someone refuses to recognize the obvious.  Instead, I would argue that I had no intent to bait but rather to stimulate interesting and civil debate which he was ruining by resorting to personal attacks rather than addressing the issues.  I also specifically stated at times that I did not want Admiralbill to respond in specific threads to avoid conflict.  Of course this had the intended opposite effect.

5.         I definitely had my share of enemies who sided with Admiralbill or saw me as a trouble-maker but I also cultivated allies on the board who could take some heat off me if I was boxed into a corner.  Then when Admiralbill focused on the other guy I could attack back and undermine him.  Even if a person has the moral high ground, it is difficult to get frustrated if two or more people are against that person on a message board.

 

Read my ebook Shame and Internet Trolling. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks.

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