Tag Archives: Self-esteem

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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Hierarchy and Blame Attract Shame Driven People

Shame driven people are attracted to hierarchical organizations that espouse “us against them” mentalities. The reason is simple. The only way for the shame driven person to feel good about himself is to shame others and thereby place himself higher on the hierarchy existing in his mind.

Two good examples of shame driven organizations are the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. Both organizations arose out of environments of defeat giving rise to low self-esteem (i.e., shame). The Nazis rose to power after Germany’s defeat in World War I. The Ku Klux Klan arose after the Confederate States’ defeat in the American Civil War. It is easy to see how the environment in both situations gave rise to resentment and shame and thus the need for the inhabitants of these environments to feel good about themselves again. Both organizations became attractive to shame driven people because they offered an opportunity to rewrite the directionless narrative of defeat into something more organized and aspirational.

These organizations accomplished this in part by creating scapegoats to blame for their problems. The Nazi’s blamed the Jews for Germany’s defeat and societal problems in the time between World War I and II. The Ku Klux Klan blamed and continues to blame the non white races for what they perceive to be the decay of American civil and moral society.

Consistent with this theme is shame’s love of uniforms and rank. The uniforms identify the shame driven individual as part of a larger group and cloaks them with power and prestige than they would not otherwise possess on their own. The rank insignia clearly designates their place on the hierarchy within the group. But more than this, the uniform masks their identity allowing their true self to hide from the pain of shame.

Shame itself is completely ego driven. It is highly judgmental. It constantly compares itself to other things. It constantly compares other things to each other. For example it is common for the shame driven person to say, “things were better in the past than they are now.” A shame driven person will point to other groups and say, “I am right, they are wrong.” Once this judgment is made, it then becomes easy to hate the other group and attempt to impose their will upon them through shame and bullying. On the international scale you might see one country invade another because they believe themselves to occupy a higher rung on the hierarchy of nations.

Of course shame driven people will never admit their real motivation is to deaden the pain of shame. This would only bring about more shame and pain (in the short run). It is far easier (although ultimately less effective) to hide in groups and uniforms blaming others for their problems while claiming to act in the name of morality. From this perspective they can feel better (relatively) about themselves. Ultimately, however, shame never leads to victory. In most cases it subconsciously self-sabotages and leads to self-annihilation.

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