In which I explore dealing with trolls, anger, taking offense, flaming and reasons to find tolerance, forgiveness and appreciation, even amongst a**holes, myself included.
One of our senior editors, Frank Ranelli, wrote me, observing that we've had a lot of new visitors, coming to the site for specific issues, and that among them, some have been, well, let me just cite his words;
"I have noticed an up swing in one-hit-wonders, people joining simply to be provocative or insulting and then disappear -- using silly and bizarre pseudonyms -- or to disparage and degrade authors through juvenile tirades and ad hominem salvos."
Frank goes on to observe that the majority of them come to the site to discuss one issue, and comments:
...this angry zealotry and enragement they portray "" toward anyone who is not in favor of ******* "" is distasteful at best and vile at its worst.
And Frank reports that he's deleted and or flagged some nasty remarks. I've done the same as have a good number of our other editors-- all volunteers, by the way.
Frank asked my thoughts on the matter and I thought my reply might interest you, our readers. My response started with web oriented thoughts and moved into a more philosophical realm, based in part, on my years of reading classics and philosophy, and the quotations I've collected on human flaws and foibles. First, some thoughts, then some quotes, with my favorite one last.
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It's a mixed blessing, drawing new visitors to OpEdNews here. They add to traffic, DO read other articles and even contribute to support the site financially. But some are idiots and some are trolls.
Our traffic is WAY up this month. I'm talking 25-40% by some measures. That's huge and means we'll probably have at least 100,000 more unique visitors than ever before-- probably over 600,000. That probably means at least 400,000 new people.
Statistically, if you encounter hundreds of thousands of new people, some of them will be totally mentally ill, some will be crude, some will be brilliant and wonderful additions to the community and some will be combative or impulsive, angry trolls.
Some of the mentally ill will be wonderful additions to the community... at least most of the time.
Over the years, I've come to believe that people's flaws often contribute to, or are even essential to what makes them special. Actually, it's one of the gifts of being alive, to make the most of what you have, to find gifts in adversity, in the cast of the dice you are thrown.
I can't take credit for figuring this out. As a quotation collector, I've encountered some wonderful ways of thinking about this. They've helped me to become more tolerant of myself and others. Further down in the article, I'll share partial listing of quotes from my "FLAWS" file of quotations. I'll save my favorite for last.
First, I want to admit that I can have a temper. When I was a teenager, I was actually proud of it and would rationalize that it was better to express anger than to bottle it up since then, I've learned that it is better to not fan the flame of anger, to develop into being a less combustible person. That means that you don't take offense as easily.
There are some people who take offense far too readily. They've established a very low threshold and once that threshold is passed, they may go ballistic or they may merely burn on the inside, perhaps cutting off conversation or even severing relationships with colleagues, friends or family.
Others are so much more tolerant that the words or action or inaction that set off the taking of offense by someone with a low threshold do little or nothing. These high "taking offense threshold" people go through life with far greater equanimity.
Part of the gift comes from being more secure in their selves, in who they are, being more comfortable in their skins. Part of the gift comes from relating to the world free from anger-- anger simmering just below the surfact, that's ready to be ignited and inflamed by the slightest provocation.
Actually, some people are fire eaters. They look for and enjoy the conflict and uproar, so they seek it out and provoke it. I pity them, but generally also ban them from this site and from my life. They need to find their entertainment elsewhere.
But there are so many people who are souls in progress, who do not seek to engage in conflict. They are passionate people who lose it for a moment. As a website administrator, it's not that hard to tell the difference if a person has been a regular on this website. I can go to his or her archive, check out the comments he or she has posted and see if there has been a history of genuine conversation and dialogue or simply a few or many offensive, rude, netiquette violating postings.