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Trolls, Anger, Taking Offense and One-Hit- Wonders

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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.

* * *

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.

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Rob Kall is editor-in-chief, publisher and site architect of OpEdNews.com, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor. He hosts the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, aired in the Metro Philly area on AM 1360, WNJC. Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.

See more Rob Kall articles here and, older ones, here. To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..  and here's an article on the Storycon Summit Meeting he founded and organized for eight years. Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party's Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

Here is a one hour radio interview where Rob was a guest- on Envision This, and here is the transcript. 

To watch Rob having a lively conversation with John Conyers, then Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click hereWatch Rob speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.

Follow Rob on Twitter & Facebook. His quotes are here

My articles express my personal opinion, not the opinion of this website.


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I've published two (I think) main articles her... by Dana Pico on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 8:20:25 AM
... the difference to me is first, whether someone... by Steven Leser on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 11:57:11 AM
that 90% of the angry comments you get are from Ro... by Jeremy Frombach on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 2:03:18 PM
we publish highly laudatory, enthusiastically supp... by Rob Kall on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 5:29:00 PM
I am still waiting for your apology for misreprese... by Niloufar Parsi on Sunday, Jan 27, 2008 at 2:56:08 AM
Jeremy,I've been a Ron Paul supporter througho... by reasonableperson on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 11:17:22 PM
Dana,  I will answer your question: “Is... by Frank J. Ranelli on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 3:01:11 PM
Rob, Great Article.... I think my take on al... by Michael Morris on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 8:35:25 AM
It should read...People who think like us and peop... by Michael Morris on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 8:37:30 AM
I have a slightly different take on these trolls. ... by PrMaine on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 9:08:00 AM
I've forwarded it to our programmer. We'll... by Rob Kall on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 11:59:38 AM
After reading your article – in regards to t... by Frank J. Ranelli on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 2:41:16 PM
"When two people of total agreement have a co... by Mike Folkerth on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 9:33:13 AM
I read it all with relish. Great quotes, some of m... by Professor Emeritus Peter Bagnolo on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 9:37:53 AM
I like the essays here very much and they keep me ... by John Hanks on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 9:51:20 AM
"I don't like filthy Republican frat boy ... by Rady Ananda on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 1:40:05 PM
Part of being progressive, to me, includes tolerat... by Rob Kall on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 5:37:43 PM
I'm glad you wrote me personally, Rob - so I c... by Rady Ananda on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 9:31:19 PM
I have seen very few articles that would lead one ... by John Sanchez Jr. on Sunday, Jan 27, 2008 at 7:37:11 AM
Not many right wingers know the difference between... by Jayne County on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 8:27:19 PM
this is one of the few places where free speech is... by john riggs on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 9:51:43 AM
Maybe America will reach the top of all the dirt a... by Michael Morris on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 9:56:39 AM
If I write a message-- email, comment, posting-- ... by Fascist Nation on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 9:55:29 AM
I am one of the folks that sometimes likes to inst... by Pat Dazis on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 9:56:09 AM
"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous t... by Eileen Fleming on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 10:03:30 AM
An example of a Troll commenting:  On one of ... by ljs on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 10:07:10 AM
I thought about deleting it but used it as a teach... by Kathlyn Stone on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 10:13:57 AM
I saw the post you were talking about and I flagge... by Steven Leser on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 12:11:39 PM
The message will get through sooner or later.... by Kathlyn Stone on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 2:09:54 PM
I have never commented on Mr. Swanson's articl... by Jeanette Doney on Sunday, Jan 27, 2008 at 10:19:51 AM
The article you linked certainly got two people ri... by Sandy Sand on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 12:12:59 PM
like David with 500+ articles on this site alone. ... by Kathlyn Stone on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 2:08:32 PM
But just about everyone has opinions. I'm prou... by Rob Kall on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 5:45:22 PM
Rob, thank you for another great piece and an open... by Marcus B on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 11:42:30 AM
Lurkers are found everywhere.  They hang in t... by Dale Hill on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 11:44:27 AM
Rob, one simple, hard and fast rule is called... by Sandy Sand on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 11:55:57 AM
I'm glad you raised this point.  I receiv... by Rady Ananda on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 1:47:59 PM
I have the greatest respect for Rob Kall and this ... by Bob Tracey on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 12:05:42 PM
In my haste to let the community know about a grea... by Margaret Bassett on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 12:07:49 PM
In the internet age there are new forms of politic... by Martin Zehr on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 1:11:03 PM
there are 26 editors who work on the OpEdNEws queu... by Rob Kall on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 5:49:39 PM
Most of what I have read on this site confirms the... by Steve Fallon on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 1:20:52 PM
Yup, ain't it awful. We also get articles from... by Rob Kall on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 5:56:39 PM
I have dealt with both for many years on various p... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 1:28:21 PM
Are not we better to use "shill", or &qu... by Michael Zimmer on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 3:59:19 PM
I have not had the pleasure of being attacked on y... by shirley reese on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 2:27:42 PM
Kathlyn: I like your input. I argued the same idea... by Professor Emeritus Peter Bagnolo on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 3:00:53 PM
are we really committed to it? IMO, we can... by Kathlyn Stone on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 6:11:49 PM
I agree. I believe that this year a Gov troll was ... by Professor Emeritus Peter Bagnolo on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 3:10:13 PM
I thought it was just me playing "spot the mo... by ladybroadoak on Sunday, Jan 27, 2008 at 8:16:31 AM
Cunning, baffling, and powerful - a friend of Bill... by Tom Murphy on Sunday, Jan 27, 2008 at 7:26:57 PM
     Thanx for the thoughful a... by mikel paul on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 3:52:46 PM
I  am here for a long time.  Malice is m... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 3:56:04 PM
 I can't tell you how many times I've... by Rick Mason on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 4:22:24 PM
I notice you haven't posted an article. Your i... by Rob Kall on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 6:03:53 PM
I too research multiple sites in an effort to get ... by Marti Oakley on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 4:59:51 PM
I’d like to know the person who sent it. Who... by Daniel Geery on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 6:10:41 PM
The standard on the web is that handles and pseudn... by Rob Kall on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 6:33:16 PM
 The only thing that I'm intolerant of is... by mrcnw on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 6:14:07 PM
 It depends on how you define trolls I guess,... by Kitt Rezner on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 6:29:51 PM
... it attracts "ditto heads," that is- ... by waldopaper on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 7:26:49 PM
Dear Rob and Community, I have to disagree with th... by Dom Jermano on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 7:32:16 PM
I DO attempt, when it seems there is some promise,... by Rob Kall on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 7:57:08 PM
But by definition, (uncivil, personally attacking)... by Dom Jermano on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 9:59:04 PM
Well, yes, I am. I find myself "trolling"... by Gallaher on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 8:01:07 PM
A timely and well-presented article, Rob.  An... by Tom Murphy on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 8:31:42 PM
As a heavy duty conservative who hopefully reads, ... by Mad Jayhawk on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 9:14:35 PM
I see the back and forth about the value of allowi... by Ro Bo on Sunday, Jan 27, 2008 at 2:03:44 PM
I too find this whole "progressive" thin... by Tom deSabla on Monday, Jan 28, 2008 at 3:05:10 AM