Writing a blog is an education in psychology. The overwhelming majority of responses are kind and respectful even in disagreement, but any blog is going to receive blistering irrational responses as well. Why would someone accuse you of lying, and then ask you to debate? Who wants to debate with a liar? Why would people call you and “idiot” but keep coming back to the same blog expecting something different? Obviously, they don’t expect something different, they are wanting a fight.
The internet has been a virtual space that crowds minds together like hamsters in a cage. If you’ve ever woken to a bloodied hamster you know that, for those rodents, the instinct to protect one’s turf can be irrational and over powering. Timid human souls that have been sheltered from opposing viewpoints are suddenly caught naked and exposed online. Hidden behind a keyboard they lash out confusing insults with logic, and cruelty with competence.
I have not yet figured out how to deal with people who think they are frightening when they are simply rude. I don’t know what to do with those who keep coming back to the same sites to pick a fight while cowering behind a computer screen. What I do know is that cyber-bullies are human beings, and that they must be lonely and miserable to seek out such pathetic victories. Our hope should be that responses that are both kind and strong will invite them out of hiding and into true dialogue.
A few months ago I heard a fascinating interview on KUT. I think it was an “On the Media” show interview. A reporter had managed, through long, painstaking effort, to find an Internet troll who had been particularly vicious. It turned out that he was a mild-mannered accountant, or something like that, whom no one would have suspected, through any of his personal interactions, of being a troll. He did it for sport. It was a sort of art form for him. 11/26/13, 08:14 CST
We are indeed a strange species. Thanks.