Tag Archives: Shame

The Solipsism of Creativity

img_0810For me, creativity is the joy of life. It is also a delicate fire that can be easily put out if not properly nurtured. Being creative requires a willingness to fail. It seems that for every ten failures there is one success. Very often that one success is not possible without those ten preceding failures. Being creative (at least for me) requires a certain level of exposure. There has to exist the opportunity to be judged by others to raise the stakes and risk catastrophe. This raising of the stakes gives it an energy that it would not otherwise have. This means that creativity requires a willingness to be vulnerable. In this way there are two counterbalancing forces at play. On the one hand creativity requires nurturing but on the other it must also risk negative judgment.

I make myself vulnerable in this way on a weekly basis when I write this blog. I write about what I am thinking. I enjoy the process of creating and putting it out there. The fact that what I write can be read by other people matters more than whether it is actually read because all of this is an internal and solipsistic process. In other words it is my own anticipation of my writing being read by others that (to a certain extent) fuels the fire of creativity

On the other hand there are very real, judgmental and sometimes hostile voices out there. These voices can manifest themselves as actual people in my blog’s comment section or as an internal critical voice. To a degree I enjoy their hostility because there is a power in getting their reaction. This is an ego based sort of enjoyment and as such is ultimately self annihilating in nature. As is the judgmental hostility it is interacting with. For this reason this enjoyment is something that I am not all together comfortable with. There is also a certain amount of defiance of this hostility on my part at play in this dynamic. This also fuels the fire. Moreover, if I were to not write and publish for fear of being judged I would only be stifling myself. This is a another form of self annihilation. So I must write.

These hostile forces share similar qualities. They all seem to take offense at true expression on supposed moral grounds. This is always the way with the ego who is threatened by the free expression of others. The ego is always comparing itself to others and placing everything on a hierarchy. It is threatened by the idea of equality and it employs shame to create this false hierarchy very likely because that weapon was used so successfully on it. I suspect there is jealousy at play here. The hostile force’s free expression had been shut down by shame and so it cannot bear to see free expression in others. It touches a point of pain that is too much to endure. Because it cannot be free no one else can be either. It sees freedom as rebellion and radical autonomy. It denies that freedom is actually the expression of one’s true nature which is the expression of God’s will.

 

 

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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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Troll Jujitsu

trollI have tussled with a troll on my blog lately. I shall not name him directly in this post but anyone can review the comment sections of other posts I have written to know who I am talking about. Like all trolls he has an over inflated ego and sees (or at least presents) himself as fighting the good and moral fight. But also like all trolls he remains largely unaware of his own true motivations. If he is at all aware of his true motivations he represses this knowledge so that he can maintain the feeling that his cause is righteous. How do I know all this about his psychology? I know this because I was once in his shoes. I recognize the pattern of behavior an the mindset. I even wrote a book about it.

I admit freely that I enjoy tussling with him on occasion and it always follows a similar pattern. I will publish a blog post that draws his attention. Sometime I specifically write on subjects because I know it will get a reaction from him and other times he simply responds to something I have written without this intent. We then argue back and forth each telling the other person that they are wrong. Sometimes it starts out on the issues but it always devolves into ad hominem attacks. Eventually the tussle becomes tiresome and I tell him I have had enough. He then attempts to post a response which I delete. He usually gives up after that.

Now the fact that I do derive enjoyment out of the interaction in a sense makes me a troll as well. Because the true motivation of a troll is to derive pleasure from getting a reaction out of another person. This is a very ego oriented drive. It makes the self feel good by putting itself hierarchically above another person. The ego is always comparing itself in this way. Some trolls are aware of this dynamic and are therefore able to exercise a degree of control over their behavior. Other trolls do not have this awareness and are unable to control their behavior or perhaps one could say that their behavior controls them. I suspect the gentleman who has been trolling my blog falls into the latter category.

In a sense our interactions have turned trolling into an art form or sport from my perspective. I am using his trolling against him to in effect perform what I would like to label a “reverse troll” or “troll jujitsu.” This of course is my way of making myself feel better about my role in this interaction. I am telling myself that it is all just a bit of fun. But in reality, my intuition tells me there is a dark side to all this that leaves us both muddy. So maybe I am not as aware of my true motivations as I think I am. My growth in this area is a work in progress I suppose.

For example, lately I took a little pride in the fact that this gentleman took it on the chin in the comment section of another blog he trolls. I need to provide some background on this. I first caught this gentleman’s eye more than a year ago when I posted a comment to a post on the blog “The Othosphere.” He took offense with my point of view and after that he began to obsessively post comments on my blog and has been doing so with remarkable consistency ever since. He originally accused me of trolling The Orthosphere. At the time I assumed he was a regular and respected contributor to that community. Over time it became clear, however, that at best the members of that blog’s community tolerated his presence. Typically they ignore his comments by not responding to them at all. At worst they express contempt for him. But I think in his mind I am the interloper to that community which he feels he is a part. Anyway, recently I commented in a post as an attempt to goad him. He naturally snapped at the bait but the beautiful part was that the author of the post entered the conversation making all the arguments against him that I typically make (e.g., his writing is unclear and confusing, he redefines words and expects everyone to use his definitions etc.). To my troll persona this was a spectacular turn of events. Not only was he made to look foolish on his supposed home turf but someone else did the heavy lifting for me. All I had to do was stoke the flame a bit here and there when it started to go out. This was black belt level troll jujitsu.

Of course I am not proud of this behavior. It is dark. It is ego driven. I can make excuses that he was the one who started it, or his belief system is ridiculous and bigoted, or I am not the only one who sees him for the buffoon that he is. But in truth these are all excuses covering up my true intentions. That truth is that there is a part of me that enjoys this and to the extent that I do enjoy it I remain unconsciously controlled by it. This is not a question of morality. From that perspective we are both wrong. But morality is largely an ego oriented enterprise. Morality says I am right and they are wrong and whoever is wrong should feel ashamed. Addressing trolling from the moral perspective will never heal the wound because the wound is a wounded ego. It is truly nothing more and nothing less. Moralizing this problem would only serve to reinforce the ego’s sense of self. The only way to heal a wounded ego is simply (but not easily) by becoming aware. Obviously I am not quite there yet but I am working towards that goal.

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10,000 Steps – Thoughts on Goals

Actual, Physical Steps

I use the Pacer App on my iPhone which records the number of steps I take. I assume this works by sensing the bounces in my strides. I came to this conclusion by observing that it continued to accurately count my steps when I was walking on a treadmill and not actually moving from one place to another. The goal is to take 10,000 steps every day. Overall I think this has been a positive addition to my life in that by using it I am probably getting more physical activity that I would otherwise get without it.

IMG_0664Using the app has changed my daily behavior. For example, now when I go to a store I will purposefully park far away in order to add to my step count. I have also noticed that if I have not reached my goal for the day every activity I engage in is valued to some extent through the lens of how many steps it will generate.

There is a significant downside, however, in that I do feel compelled to take my phone with me where ever I go so that I can get credit for the steps that I take. In this way my iPhone has further still intertwined itself with my daily existence which is something I struggle with and perhaps a topic for another blog post.

Self Improvement

It is all about self improvement and partly inspired by a blogger I follow named James Altucher. He advocates engaging in what he calls a “daily practice” consisting of self improvement in four areas of life daily. These areas are (1) Intellectual (e.g., reading or learning something new), (2) Physical (e.g., going out for a walk), (3) Emotional (e.g., keeping negative influences to a minimum) and (4) Spiritual (e.g., praying, meditating, engaging in religious practice). I try to follow this practice and use the 10,000 daily steps as a means of improving myself physically.

This is important because I have a job where I spend a significant amount of time sitting at a desk. It is good to break up the day by taking a walk. I used to feel guilty about leaving my desk to take a walk because I felt that was time I could have spent working. But now I realize that if I do not take care of myself physically then the other four areas of my daily practice will suffer. For example, if I do not take care of myself physically I will have less stamina and concentration to perform my job or other pursuits. I will also likely feel more irritated and less fulfilled as well. For these reasons, I now feel entitled to my 10,000 daily steps.

Accomplishing Goals in the Now

I usually make a point of getting most of my steps in by noon. But some days are busier than others and I find myself thinking that I will put off taking my steps until the evening. Unfortunately, I have found that this to be a mistake because more often than not when I do put my steps off until the evening I never actually end up reaching my goal of 10,000. There is a lesson in this. It seems similar to the adage, “never put off until tomorrow what can be done today.” Only in this case it is, “never put off until the end of the day what can be done in the morning.”

Of course the goal renews itself daily so I never make myself feel guilty if I do not actually  reach the goal. This would be counterproductive because if I do make myself feel guilty (aka employ shame as a motivating force) I will eventually become resentful with the goal in its entirety. When this happens I am likely to say, “To hell with it!” and give up on the whole scheme. Accordingly, if I do not reach the goal (which almost never happens) I know that the goal will be there when I wake up in the morning and that is the end of that.

Goals Should Be Daunting at First

I have a goal of 10,000 steps per day. It is said that people must practice a skill for 10,000 hours to master it. The journey of 10,000 miles begins with a single step. There is nothing magical about the number 10,000. The nexus between these three ideas is that the goals are daunting at first but with persistence (that is, additional steps) the goals are eventually achieved.

When I first had the idea of taking 10,000 steps per day it seemed a little daunting. So I started out with a goal of 5,000 steps and every day after I tried to exceed the number of steps I took the day before. Using this method I eventually reached the real goal of 10,000 per day. Now a day does not seem complete if I have not reached that goal. It is a good thing that 10,000 steps seems daunting at first because that means in order to accomplish it I must push myself a little harder than I am used to pushing myself. There are probably 10,000 steps between the starting point and the achievement of any worthwhile goal. But I have found that most goals in life can be achieved eventually by continuously taking steps towards their achievement.

 

 

 

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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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What Part of Me is Me?

FlowerWe start out thinking that all our actions and ideas are our own. Over time, however, this belief begins to erode under a mountain of evidence about which it becomes increasingly difficult to remain in a state of denial.

The best example I can give to illustrate this point is the remnants of shame a I feel on a daily basis. When I was young I thought this shame was a defective part of my personality. I had a low self esteem and this was essentially my fault because I felt that I am responsible for my thoughts and feelings. This belief is reinforced by the general attitudes of society and by the beliefs propagated by social institutions. This system seems to make sense on the surface but the more it is probed the less convincing it becomes. At a certain point in my life I came to realize that the reason I felt shame was because my parents felt that shame and I adopted on a very basic and unconscious level their energy. They in turn adopted this energy from their parents just as I have to some extent passed this energy down to my own children. But if this energy has been passed around from generation to generation I cannot very well say that this energy is me. The best I can say is that I am a vessel who is currently holding that energy. So then, if these feelings are not me (even though most of the time I feel like they are) what part of me is actually me?

Another connected example is addiction. When a person is addicted the addiction will think for the person who is addicted. The person believes or feels these thoughts to be his own but in reality it is the parasitic addiction generating these thoughts in order to feed itself. Like the energy of shame the pull of addiction is a foreign entity disguising itself to its host as the host himself. But despite the fact that at times the feeling that the addiction is the host can be very convincing, it is not the host.

I suppose it is reasonable to ask if there even is a me in the first place? In other words am “I” merely a vessel who thinks I am what other forces have poured into me? If true, then everyone else is also a vessel who thinks he or she is what other people (other vessels) poured into them. In other words most people in this world are walking around and interacting with each other under the illusion that they are something they are not.

But surely the vessel of self has some intrinsic qualities unto itself. For example, it has the ability to hold thoughts and feelings, it has the ability to think on its own to some extent, and it has the ability to believe certain things are true (whether or not they happen to be true). It then becomes a question of ratios. How much of me is composed of my intrinsic qualities and how much me is composed of these foreign elements which have been put into me? There is no way to measure this but it seems to me that the vast majority of what I consider to me is not really me.

One consequence of this realization is its twin realization that most of the crimes my shame accuses me of are not really my (i.e., my true self’s) fault. This is dangerous territory because it undermines our whole system of criminal justice and morality. Perhaps it is easier from a societal standpoint to continue on with the belief that all these alien, parasite thoughts are our own and our responsibility. The alternative seems highly susceptible to the malfeasance of bad actors.

The last thought on this subject I have is that meditation seems to be the means by which a person can get in touch with the real self. The simple technique of watching the thoughts swimming about in the mind and returning the mind to center when one realizes that he as identified with these thoughts brings about a separation from these thought. Whatever is left behind is the true self.

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