March 05, 2014

Part Three: Cyber-Trolls and Trolling. "Just Doin' it for the Lulz!"

An Old Mountain Troll by John Bauer

Lulz: Internet slang defined as fun; amusement; humor; schadenfreude. For kicks. ~Wiktionary

"“Lulz” is how trolls keep score. A corruption of “LOL” or “laugh out loud,” “lulz” means the joy of disrupting another person’s emotional equilibrium. “Lulz is watching someone lose their mind at their computer 2,000 miles away while you chat with friends and laugh,” said one ex-troll who refused to disclose his legal identity." ~The Trolls Among Us 

"Studies revealed similar patterns of relations between trolling and the Dark Tetrad of personality: trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. Sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling...Thus cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism." Trolls Just Want To Have Fun (Buckels et al) Questions measuring personality traits were:
Sadistic Impulse Scale: Hurting people is exciting 
Narcissism: I've been compared to famous people 
Machiavellianism: It's not wise to tell your secret  
Psychopathy: Payback needs to be quick and easy
"Machiavellianism is (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others). The relationship between sadism and trolling was the strongest, sadists appear to troll because they find it pleasurable. “Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others. Sadists just want to have fun...and the Internet is their playground!”  Internet Trolls Really Are Horrible People

Trolls, Bullies, Harassment, Stalking  
"People troll because they enjoy causing distress in others on the Internet. This is different than cyber-bullying which uses information technology to harm or harass someone in a repeated, deliberate, and hostile manner. Trolls are just doin' it for the "lulz." ("Lulz" is a stupid way of saying, "laughs.") They just want to make others react so they can sit back and enjoy the ensuing chaos." A Troll Is as a Troll Does 
Some websites make arbitrary distinctions between trolls and bullies; between bullying and harassment. These distinctions aren't cut in stone because we're still coming up with words to best describe this Brave New cyber-World we've created. Cyberbullying is generally based on a power differential referring to adolescents, yet adult bullies use the pack mentality (power over) to threaten and harass other adults. Trolls are defined by their anonymity, yet people troll "friends" hoping to trigger their reactions. Whatever we choose to call trouble-makers, they have a sadistic disposition with fifty shades of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. Perhaps sadism is more plainly seen in online interactions? The schadenfreude of written chest-beating may not be as easily forgotten as the smug grin of an everyday sadist.

In the Dark Tetrad study (Buckels et al), the pleasure of hurting people was attributed to psychopathy more than narcissism. The self-perception of superiority means narcissists are more likely to harass people or bully them, particularly after a narcissistic injury when they felt disrespected or insulted. If narcissists believe they were condescended to, or criticized in any way, they are driven to punish or eliminate the object diminishing their status. Narcissistic people are invested in sustaining their image, just as they are with in-person-relationships. So it's not that narcissists enjoy hurting people. It's a burden they must bear to be true to their superior self. < -----sarcasm

The psychopathic person is not emotionally invested in protecting his/her status, with the exception of a loosely-defined trolling community dedicated to out-performing one another. Trolls aren't concerned with maintaining the good guy image or being part of an "ordinary" community. In fact, they p-r-o-b-a-b-l-y prefer being seen as antisocial rebels, social outcasts, the bad boys of cyberspace who are willing to do what weak people can't. Since they don't care what people think and disdain common morality, they derive satisfaction from inflicting emotional pain. As the cliche goes: "If you can't join 'em, beat 'em". If you can't join 'em, destroy the group. "Do it for the lulz!"

Cyber-Trolls enjoy destroying community spirit, something they find worthy of mockery since they don't form emotional bonds. Troll's agentic traits are off-the-scale, creating a value set belittling love (if it even exists), disparaging grief (RIP Facebook trolling), deriding tenderness as weakness, laughing at people's pain. They justify humiliation as an object lesson for anyone dumb enough to care, weak enough to react, stupid enough to share.

Cyber-Trolls: Pointless and Disruptive 

The suggested distinction between trolls and cyber-bullies is that bullies are affiliated with their victim in some way. Trolls tend to be anonymous, fishing for passerby's attention and reactions. If their expedition is joined by fellow trolls, the one-upmanship can be awfully entertaining---depending on the website and the subject. (See the comment section HERE)

You can spot a troll when the comment section meanders into politics or religion bashing. People could be talking about the utility of potato pesticides and a troll will comment that if it weren't for George Bush or Christianity, we wouldn't have potato bugs. And then someone defends George and  Jesus and the whole place goes up in flames. Trolls push people's buttons causing reactions that makes respondents look foolish and emotional. The troll's pay-off is a rush of power, the perception of control, the joy of chaos when people are pitted against one another---defending the troll's right to free speech while abandoning the victim to his/her shame. After all, doesn't everyone know better than to take the troll's comments seriously? (Check out my resource section for a BBC video tracking Nimrod Severn posting hateful comments on memorial websites)

CyberBullies: Intentional and Malicious

"Perpetrator identities are usually clear and the intent is more straightforward" with bullies than the anonymous and pointless troll. (Buckels et al) Bullying implies a power differential so cyberbullying is a more accurate term for children and adolescents. Recent cases of cyberbullying describe teenager's sense of powerlessness when intimidated by shared photos and malicious rumors, ruining their reputations and isolating them from other people. Because teens are afraid parents will take away their internet privileges and devices, they may be less inclined to talk with family about what they're going through. Think carefully before eliminating access to the Internet. This is the world our children live in and we must think critically about protecting them. (See Resources)

Cyber-Harassment and Cyberstalking: Intimidation and Retaliation

"There is no universal legal definition of cyber-harassment, but it typically is defined as repeated, unsolicited, threatening behavior by a person or group using mobile or Internet technology with the intent to bother, terrify, intimidate, humiliate, threaten, harass or stalk someone else...Cyber-harassment and cyberstalking are often used synonymously to describe the actions of people who relentlessly pursue others online with the intention of frightening or embarrassing the victim.

"Sometimes a harasser intends to teach the victim a lesson or solicit information from him or her, and stalkers generally want revenge or attention. A stalker or harasser often will post comments to the victim that are intended to cause distress and will try to incite others to do the same. "~WiseGEEK

John Bauer
About Free Speech 

“The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt.” (Buckels) 

Over the past decade, cyber-communications have transitioned from unregulated comments by trolls and bullies to heavily moderated websites. Several sites have eliminated comments on featured articles. Even YouTube, notorious for adolescent bugger-picking, allows users to disallow comments on uploaded videos. My belief in open communication has been repeatedly dashed by uncivil discourse bordering on hate speech. Social media sites have reflected similar concerns and taken necessary action to protect users from harassment and abuse.

When organizing the WoN Forum, our professed value was free speech. No deletions. No banning. Some people (a minority) didn't view free speech as a privilege and a group commitment. They saw our liberal policy as a challenge and opportunity: "Can we get CZ to ban us? Can we get our posts deleted?" THAT my friends, is the shit-stirrer mentality and it's why we have explicit rules and laws limiting people who can't limit themselves. That every group has a certain percentage of shit-stirrers is a fact. Use this fact to fill the gap between idealism and reality, something every idealist must come to grips with.

It didn't take long before my belief in free speech became the troll's freedom to silence others. Trolls reaped satisfaction (not remorse) when people were terrified. My job as a manager switched from facilitating free speech, to protecting people from other people's free speech, aka: verbal abuse. It's fair to say "there is no free speech without civility." 

With a huge increase in the number of blogs on the net today, individuals must make judgment calls between irritating comments expressing different, yet valid points of view; and irritating comments intended to antagonize and insult. Each blogger will have their own degree of tolerance for contentious communication depending on the subject matter and the environment (their readers). In the case of trauma and abuse communities, discernment is crucial because trolls:
1-Are unreasonable and hostile
2-Disdain common courtesy
3-Mock social responsibility
4-Lack remorse
5-Like being insulted
6-Feed on your anger
7-Create chaos, drama, and misery
8-Snicker when people self-destruct
9-See themselves as separate and superior
10-Hang out under bridges & eat nice people for breakfast
Trolls and bullies are drawn to any group where incivility garners maximum attention, inflating their sense of power, and upsetting a beautiful thing: group harmony. Trolls and bullies will use their anonymity to hurt and destroy while the majority of people use anonymity to discuss sensitive topics and protect people they care about. (Anonymity is problematic when it prevents trolls and bullies from suffering consequences for anti-social behavior.) It may seem odd to people that haven't used social media, for someone to be traumatized by an invisible, anonymous screen name posting invective messages in All Caps. But the fact is, and I can testify to it, cyber-harassment feels like emotional violence, destabilizing our psychological health. If hurtful comments are that deleterious to others, why do trolls write comments that shock, and frighten people?
"The only justification trolls have for their behavior is simply doing it for the “lulz,” or sadistic enjoyment at the expense of others." ~Do Not Feed the Trolls 
If people are fairly new to the Internet, they may not have encountered a troll. Trolling, described as "trolling the cyber-sea waiting for someone to bite", was commonplace on narcissism forums and blogs. Perhaps the sheer number of blogs and forums today has minimized trolling. Higher-tech forums have eliminated most, if not all of the trolling because site managers can block people; delete people; ban people, track their IPs. As individual bloggers and forum members, we can educate ourselves and disengage from the conversation BEFORE feeding trolls' egos---and losing a good chunk of our own.

There's another factor protecting people from sadistic people and that is the group itself. It may take years before group solidarity and trust is strong enough to thwart intentional chaos. People are learning ways to intervene before the situation escalates to mayhem. What may start out as trolling can suddenly switch to harassment when the victim reacts and people choose sides. Just like the Karpman Drama Triangle, there are three sides to every cyber-harassment or trolling-for-Lulz: The harasser; The victim; The bystander. 

Trolling, Cyber-harassment and bullying elevate feelings of isolation and shame, more so for victims of relational abuse, I think. When other people are witness to the conflict yet do nothing to intervene, the victim's sense of powerlessness and humiliation can be all-consuming. Traumatic memories surface, magnifying the present trauma beyond rationality. It may take several days before restoring their emotional equilibrium. It is so important for victims and scapegoats to confide in someone, even though their first instinct is to isolate and blame themselves. Talking to another person during the conflict offers perspective, validating the abuse and restoring the victim's integrity and personal efficacy.

People feel powerless, just as they did when they were children. But feeling powerless to resolve the situation is not merely a figment of their imagination! The truth is that there isn't much people can do to stop cyber-harassment once it's started, not at this point anyway. New laws are being considered because of the destructive impact harassment has on victims, including lethal consequences for children and adults. There is nothing funny about attacking people online unless of course, hurting people or watching others hurt people, is enjoyable.

John Bauer

"Trolls send abusive messages to anyone they take an instant and often irrational dislike to, are now as established on the online scene as they once were in fairy tales. "It is time, says the UK's Anti-Bullying Alliance to call a halt to a trend that is "gradually chipping away self-esteem. Cyberbullying increases isolation and impacts mental health more than other forms of bullying." ~Cyberbullies: how best to tackle online abuse?

Trolls and bullies are most effective before a group or individual gets his or her cyber-sea legs. That means new bloggers are particularly vulnerable to anonymous aggression. Like the woman who wrote about her boyfriend stalking her after she ended their relationship. A malicious troll sent this email, "I'M RIGHT OUTSIDE YOUR WINDOW. I  CAN SEE YOU!" 

She was so terrified she closed her window shades, locked her doors, and left the cybergroup. If she had been online for awhile, she'd have written, "Don't you have anything better to do? Like pick your nose or change your diaper?"

If she had been online for a l-o-n-g l-o-n-g time, she wouldn't have replied at all.

What should I do if I think I am being stalked or harassed online?

1- Tell the person harassing you in straight forward terms, "Leave me alone, stop harassing me. Do not contact me again." If you are in IM or chat, log off immediately and stay off-line for at least 24 hours. 
2- Do not reply to anything else the harasser says. No replies to emails, taunts or lies said about you. Do NOT REPLY! Harassment is a form of power over you. If you take that power away from the harasser and refuse to "play their game" then you have become empowered instead. You are now in charge! 
3- If the problem only exists in IM or chat, go off-line and completely change your online identity. This means changing your nickname and all the information you have listed in your profile. Everything must be changed! 
4- In the case of email harassment you need to contact the harasser's ISP (Internet Service Provider) and make a complaint. 
5- Stay out of problem chat rooms. 
6- Don't give out your online ID except to "very" trusted friends and tell them not to give it out to anyone else. 
7- Be certain all of your online profiles do not contain any personally identifying information about you, such as age, sex, address, phone number, school attended and teams you play on or where you work. 
8- Be sure logging is enable In your IM and chat clients. 
9- Keep all log files that pertain to the stalker for evidence. 
10- Keep all e-mails that originate from the harasser or stalker and any replies you sent for evidence. 
11- If you feel you or your family is in physical danger from this stalker, or the stalker knows where you live or has made physical threats against you- CALL YOUR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY OR THE FBI IMMEDIATELY!

Philips, Witney. "LoLing at Tragedy: Facebook trolls, memorial pages and resistance to grief" (2011) Link

Buckels, E. E., et al. "Trolls just want to have fun." Personality and Individual Differences (2014). PDF Document
In two online studies (total N = 1215), respondents completed personality inventories and a survey of their Internet commenting styles. Overall, strong positive associations emerged among online commenting frequency, trolling enjoyment, and troll identity, pointing to a common construct underlying the measures. Both studies revealed similar patterns of relations between trolling and the Dark Tetrad of personality: trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, using both enjoyment ratings and identity scores. Of all personality measures, sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior. Enjoyment of other online activities, such as chatting and debating, was unrelated to sadism. Thus cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.
Porter, S., et al. "Solidiers of Misfortune: An examination of the Dark Triad and the experience of schadenfreude." Personality and Individual Difference (2013) PDF Document
Abstract: "This study was the first to investigate the relation between Dark Triad personality traits and the experience of schadenfreude. Participants (N = 120) were assigned to one of three priming conditions: empathy, schadenfreude, or neutral. After reading a vignette priming one of the three emotional states, each participant was exposed to a photographic image showing an unfortunate event experienced by the individual described in the vignette. All participants were shown the same four images and completed an evaluation form about their subjective emotional reactions to each image. Further, their facial expression reactions to each image were video-recorded and coded for smile presence and intensity. Results indicated positive relationships between Dark Triad traits and both self-reported schadenfreude and objective smile intensity. Higher Dark Triad scores also were associated with self-reported increased schadenfreude in daily life and a propensity to seek out related stimuli."  
Online Bullying and Trolling. 4-page PDF Booklet 

Tips For Thwarting Cyberbullying, Cyber-harassment and Cyberstalking. 8-page PDF

"One in twenty online users deliberately engage in trolling, according to a new study that also identifies those users as having the classic traits of sadism, narcissism, psychopathy and Machievellianism."


  1. " If she had been online for awhile, she'd have written, "Don't you have anything better to do? Like pick your nose or change your diaper?"

    If she had been online for a l-o-n-g l-o-n-g time, she wouldn't have replied at all."

    Gee CZ, I don't know why I found this such a deeply satisfying post, but I did. Your quote above really did make me laugh out loud (not LOL, not LULZ). A wonderful finish to your trifecta of posts. As always, well-researched, well-written, and a topic that draws from your own experience and weaves it into larger helpful lessons for others. You know I had a baptism-by-stinky-fire into the online world; but one thing I notice now is that I'm less inclined to write posts just about my own particular episodes with narcs (there is NOTHING wrong with doing that. I did it for over a year and still do at times), and more inclined to zoom the lens out for a bigger picture. Your posts have always been models on how to do that. Every time I feel like I'm studying my belly-button with an electron microscope, I come over here and am reminded that my experience is like that of so many others, and there are more important things to be learned.

    I agree with you--it's incredibly disheartening to find out that among groups that profess to want to share their pain at the hands of abusive spouses, or FOOs, there are also those who want to offload that pain. It's always been true that nothing draws certain kinds of people closer than a nice juicy scapegoat. A solitary troll just enjoys having an impact. The studies you cite are really useful--the traits of the four types recognizable. Thinking about my own experience with cyberbullies, and thinking about trolls, I wonder if the people who do this the most are the ones who feel the most powerless in their offline lives? By powerless, I just mean least able to impact their world in any positive way. It seems to me that if people have a positive, constructive place to use their agency, they don't have to pump it up as much online? Great post, especially so given your own challenges these days. Thank you for writing it for us. Oh, btw, I no longer worry about using the word 'us'! yippeekay-aye.

    1. You had a rough beginning, CS. So did I. Many people would have given up and many have. Depending on the degree of hostility, cyber-harassment can be terrifying. Please don't anyone hear me minimizing the dangers of cyberspace. What I hope people hear (and i'm paying attention, too) is that there are SIGNS we're involved in an unhealthy/pathological situation that could escalate beyond our belief.

      The problem people face is that self-disclosure is integral to healing, to facing reality, to dealing with reality in a healthy way. People must talk about their lives honestly with other people. If bullies and trolls are allowed to "use" this information to mock and harass people, then it's reasonable for people to delete their blogs and leave cyberspace. Many people have done that...a crucial thing to remember from our Abuse101 classes is that abusers don't have to beat EVERYONE up. Just one. Just the example of what "could happen" to others if "they' infuriate, insult or criticize the bullies.

      Since we don't have laws in place curtailing anti-social rebels, "the group" has to protect each other...we have to speak up when someone's being harassed. That idea came from Chris Hedges in a totally unrelated interview, ha...but he suggested that instead of slapping laws on dictators, "the people" had to hold them in check. That requires coming together. The complication is that "online conflicts" mushroom beyond any PTA argument in the high school auditorium. Online trolls and bullies participate "just for the lulz", which is what happened to me many years ago. When one of the trolling for lulz women told me that she didn't disagree with my stance at all, she was only dive-bombing me because it was fun, I think my head spun around backwards. She said, "Because I really like you CZ but it was fun watching you scramble."

      Would you call that a friend? ha!!! Actually, I kinda liked her shit-stirrer personality and perhaps she was only teasing in a slightly-sadistic-way. Like families do. Still, her teasing "egged on" other people who had malicious intents. Perhaps none of these women had ever been harassed and perhaps they didn't know a few 'crazy folks' were sending death threats to me. Perhaps they didn't know that someone figured out where I lived and emailed real estate agent's ads encircling my home with warnings about shooting me. So even online teasers that never intended to harm the object of their joke, might incite the wrath of less-psychologically healthy people who are looking for someone to hate.

      There is always a risk that we'll "tick someone off" by simply saying the wrong word, misspelling their name, or referring to the all-inclusive we (which is healthy by the way) and offending their unique self (how dare we suggest they are "one of us!") As I wrote in "22 signs of Online Narcissists", it is imperative that we surround ourselves with people of good will. People of good will forgive, understand, listen, care, appreciate, cooperate. All the communal values that make our lives meaningful and joyful.

      I love all kinds of blogs, most especially those that are focused on daily interactions with narcissistic people. We learn so much about ourselves and others when people self-disclose. I was very much that way myself but since I've been writing for a decade, my focus on narcissism as expanded. And I'm older now. Applying clinical research to my life and writing about it has been a way for me to "give back". To help people who don't the time or interest or ability to keep a blog going. It is (wow) time-consuming!

      Thank you for commenting, CS. You are a fabulous woman and I'm so glad you didn't leave the web. You have so much to offer others--what a tragedy that your introduction to the ACoN community was so hostile. You've got guts and tenacity, I'll give ya that!


    2. Yes well, without your handholding behind the scenes, and later that of other friends, I would have packed up shop and gone. But the thing is, once we invest in writing our experiences down, we have a stake in it. To just pull it up (or to do a 180), who can do that to their own life? It's imperative to moving forward that we write the truth at least to the best of our ability to ourselves. it's not about appearances, or collecting followers. It's about comprehending our situations and recognizing patterns, then--more important by far--changing our feeling-reactions to triggers. I let things drop so much more easily now because I understand the lay of the land. Most of it isn't about me at all, and if it were at this point, who cares? Btw, let me say again how astonished I was to see this post, as you're in the midst of major challenges in your life. You are a fabulous woman, and a real gift to OUR community!! love CS

    3. I am grateful for the distraction. And I'm grateful people are willing to read and talk with me, too.

      It's been deeply comforting to have dear cyber-friends while our family adjusts to another life-changing event. For those who don't know, my daughter was just diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and has been unable to work because of the debilitating symptoms. It's been very hard to accept and adjust to such a shock. No one in our family has MS.

      I am trying to get back in my normal routine because that comforts her. She wants life to be as normal as it can be and was so happy to see me writing a new post for my blog. Thanks CS...

  2. Excellent post. Thanks for the clear definitions. My experience with growing up were bullies were the adults. I now understand that bullies come in all ages and all varieties. I took a class on bullying in schools. Your information paralleled what I learned there.

    1. You are so very welcome, Ruth! I enjoyed reading distinctions between bullies and trolls now that we're trying to reign in this wild wild cyberspace frontier.

      I came across several "older"articles about open sharing and free speech which reminded me of my ideals of free speech. Free Speech and Open Sharing works out great in your own head; not so great in real time. We're learning as we go and that makes it so exciting.

      I didn't realize they were teaching classes on bullying which only makes sense. The sooner people realize what's happening to them, the better chance they have of protecting themselves. People make the same mistakes as myself---we assume logic and reasoning will quench the fire and people will "come to their senses" and stop themselves. There's something about cyberspace that makes these altercations so much worse that had people disagreed (or felt criticized) in a board meeting. Maybe anonymity works both ways: the bully's face is hidden from public reprisal; and the victim's anonymity turns them into a "target", objectifying them.

      I'm glad my information paralleled what you learned in school so maybe we're getting somewhere educating people about "mob mentality" and "emotional contagion" and "sadism, narcissism and psychopathy"? I hope so! Thanks for reading and thank you so much for commenting!


  3. How did you do this, CZ?? We expected an article but damn! I would have thought this would have taken weeks! But it took days...IF. You are something else, and don't ever say again that you are not a writer. Geez.

    I just skimmed this because I should be asleep, but this is going to haunt my dreams. First, it is excellent...and how you can spin out these concepts and nail them I just don't know.

    I have always held (from personal that when 'bad' narcissism crossed with sadism, you get pathology or psychopathy. Sadism is never a secondary is a primary intention. It is not an accident. It is a pointed and studied methodolgy. I have experienced the personal intention of two sadists in my life: and believe me, though the first was covered by mental illness, and since the sadist was too close a member of my family....the second one was a sexual sadist and out for blood. Mine. I think I can determine now that he was a straight out psychopath. Sadism is a well used tool with these folk. Wheaties for breakfast.

    Probably most readers here have known what happened in the past few weeks so it's not important to go over it here. But this 'mob mentality' I would have expected in teens, when it is the method of choice of adult women, it's more than disturbing. Your blog entries have helped tremendously, CZ. You threw a light on something that I would not have expected from adult women that I knew for years.

    Kudos to you and your daugher! That she realizes the importance of routine and that what your routine brings is healing to so many, blessings on you both.

    Thank you, CZ for your writing here. This obviously is one of the most important issues facing society today.
    Love, LN

    1. Hi LadyNyo,

      Your recent encounter with trolls and bullies was the inspiration for this article so I'm very glad you joined the conversation. Sadism is a topic I haven't dug into because it's repellent and frightfully quotidian. I'd rather believe sadism were relegated to a sick minority, rather than examine the ways "normal people" find pleasure in other people's suffering. Schadenfreude is on the lower end of the sadism scale which I try to"own"; but it's always so tempting to feel some degree of satisfaction when the rich-and-powerful take a fall. ;-P Picking on the less powerful, well, that's never funny to me. I think this is an important distinction but maybe someone can tell me why.

      Sadism is a topic people don't apply to everyday so-called "normal" life. Recently with "Shades of Grey", people have been drawn into fantasy relationships playing around with McSadism. It's a serious topic meriting discussion on N-forums and blogs because all narcissists are sadistic to some degree. Their sadistic pleasure seems to derive from punishing people who don't comply, people who fail to meet the narcissist's expectations for admiration, adoration, attention, etc. THEN you see the smirk on their face. It's more about inflating their self-esteem than the sheer joy of inflicting pain on people who haven't offended them......yet. ha!

      That sadists would take advantage of the Internet and their anonymity is to be expected. The problem is that the majority of anonymous people are honest, never expecting to be targeted on websites discussing narcissistic abuse!

      Glad you got out of that mess, LadyN. Here's to staying OUT of online conflicts in 2014. Is it possible??

  4. And...I keep thinking of Nihilism with these trolls. No moral concepts, nothing...a big void in the heart and head. Nothing progressive or good for society.


    1. A good first step is to stop honoring anti-socials as somehow being "above the fray" an admirable. I think people are realizing that "altruism" and unselfish behavior has kept the human species alive. I think we've been led astray by the idea of human selfishness.

      That everything we do, even our kindnesses, are selfish. People still cling to the "selfish gene" as an excuse for narcissistic behavior that we'd rather "normalize" than stifle. Who can blame them? I love loving me. The idea that we must love ourselves before we can love anyone else is gonna kill our society and you can quote me on that in another twenty years when people are still waiting to love others because they haven't perfected the art of self-love.

      No hate mail, please. I just don't like this line of thinking. I still don't really love myself but each day that I do something good for the world (instead of me me me), I like myself more. I do believe at this point (and am always open for information that informs and changes my opinions) that the more we tell people to love and serve themselves, the more nihilistic and meaningless their lives become. Addictions are based on this. Trolling is based on this. If those trolls "could" create and sustain meaningful relationships with people, they wouldn't spend their time upsetting and hurting people "for the lulz." That we make movies about anti-social rebels and admire them as role models is a serious serious problem.

  5. I never really understood this concept of 'love yourself first, and then you can legitimately love the rest of the world'. I thought perhaps that this was because ACONs have a haunting....trouble valuing ourselves, but I think this is very different than this concept of 'love yourself first'.

    I may be missing something here, but it doesn't wash with me in the deepest parts of my brain.

    Yes, nihilism is something that people don't really talk about. It's a philosophy of the void. And that has NOTHING to do with Buddhism...and the void is big stuff there. It's that nothing moral applies, that there are not stopgates to's about as negative as you can get and it certainly feeds into the trolls, the sadists, the psychopaths., There is no accountability in Nihilism. It feeds and parades as anti-social. It is anti-life.

    This wonderful Japanese poet, Nagase Kiyoko wrote this "Aphorisms" "Nihilism's Corpse." It knocked me on the floor because I didn't expect this and have been struggling with this issue of Nihilism lately,

    "Nihilism is a deep-sea fish.
    When it, in the form of language, surfaces in the sea, it is already lifeless.
    I detest its corpse like a dirty rag. I hate it."

    This nails it for me.

    Thank you, CZ, for shining a beacon on all of this.


    1. I may spend some thinking time working out my thoughts and feelings about "loving ourselves first before people can love us." I remember Campbell and Twenge commenting on this cliche in their book, The Narcissism Epidemic. At the time, it startled me because I've heard it innumerable times in 12-step and other recovery groups. It might be a great topic on its own and I'd expect people to have varying opinions on how they interpret what has become the "mantra" for healing.

      I love the few poems I've read by Nagase Kiyoko after your brought her to my attention. Thank you so very very much---astounding she is. Knocked me to the floor too---especially this poem: When a Truck Comes and Runs Over Me

      "When a truck comes and runs over me, “hungry soul” pops out of my mouth. “Freedom” flows out from my ribs as the incarcerating fence breaks.

      Before the truck runs over me, no one can tell me apart from ordinary people.

      So I want you to know that writing poetry is as weighty as having a truck run over me. I don’t want you to take it lightly."

  6. Somehow, I missed this comment of yours, CZ.

    "Sadism is a topic people don't apply to everyday so-called "normal" life. Recently with "Shades of Grey", people have been drawn into fantasy relationships playing around with McSadism. It's a serious topic meriting discussion on N-forums and blogs because all narcissists are sadistic to some degree. Their sadistic pleasure seems to derive from punishing people who don't comply, people who fail to meet the narcissist's expectations for admiration, adoration, attention, etc. THEN you see the smirk on their face. It's more about inflating their self-esteem than the sheer joy of inflicting pain on people who haven't offended them....yet."

    Ugh. 7 years ago I started a novel called "A Kapitany" (that's Hungarian for "The Master"...actually it's Captain, but what did I know? My Hungarian is as good as my Eskimo) It was a novel of BDSM...something I fast realized I knew NOTHING about. I was on a writer's website called ERWA (Erotica Readers and Writers Ass.) and I was pushed to 'ask' for some direction towards someone who knew about BDSM. I wish I had kept my big mouth shut. I went to a group (munch...LOL!) of practictions of BDSM and boy was I...well, let's just say I was a lamb amongst wolves. After about 6 months or so of going to their exhibitions, etc....I decided that this underworld was really something not only perverse, but very bad, dangerous for women. Usually women were on the bottom of the heap. They were called 'submissives' except for some (like me!) who were brats...mouthy and NOT submissive material. I wonder at these people who read this book "50 Shades of Grey"....I couldn't get through "25 Shades of Grey" the writing was so awful. But! Sadism was the prominant element in these BDSM groups. I would say that 70% of the men were sadists of some variety. And not just sexual sadists...which is a whole different ball of wax, but probably not that much.

    See, with sexual sadists, the 'hurt' inflicted IS the point...that is the way they can get aroused, and with some....the only way. Of course, there is another name for these folk, psychopaths.

    And the opposite of that...are the machoists...I didn't spell that right, but they are women who have such twisted wiring that they 'crave' beatings, burnings, things that make you go 'ugh' and run away.

    With sexual sadists and sadists in general, and I agree that they are All Narcissists, it is about feeding their ego, but they do it with great cruelty. Intentional demeaning....but with a twist. They inflict physical pain...which is so much faster for them than psychological pain, but of course with the internet, psychological pain is the only way they can 'reach out and touch'.

    These books, like "Shades of Grey" are timebombs in my estimation. People have no idea really what is behind and the basis of these ...ah...literary works. I think they segue into Nihilism, feed into this empty and amoral philosophy, but that is just my opinion.

    Please, CZ....delete this post if you think necessary. I became very sensitive about sadists and sadism these years ago and STILL have not been able to talk to my therapist about what happened. Except in one case, it was all observation and that was enough. I am just so damn glad I realized that there are limits to research. And women are maimed in the pursuit of these things.


    1. We are kinda off-topic but I started it! Let me wrap up this tangent with an explanation of my "McSadism is an unhappy meal" comment. Shades of Grey is, as you wrote, a time-bomb. I've talked about this with enough people to realize they're relatively naive when it comes to BDSM, a topic that required education on my part since many people were being sexually abused by "narcissists" and told it was all about 'trust' and 'truth'. So I, even Doris Day me, have conversed with "subs" which makes me feel as though a truck ran over me and I hope you don't take my self-education lightly. ;-P

      There's everyday sadism and there's pathological sadism and I fear people's naivete will have serious consequences. I was thinking the other day that the author of that book (which is sold in stores like KMart) has led a few lambs to the slaughter. People seem to think BDSM is a role play game; and in many cases that's all it is---pretending. I've appreciated the insights people mentioned, applying domination theory to gender roles.

      But instead of being concerned about a hierarchical society and how we might level the system, we are normalizing potentially pathological behavior. Maybe people need to see pathological sadism in overtly obvious ways before they can recognize the "sickness" of everyday sadism? I don't know. I'm always looking for the silver lining and the safeword here is: healthy narcissism.

      I'm also concerned about media's fascination with reality shows that satisfy viewer's sadistic instincts to laugh at "human emotions" and cheer the bullies beating people down. We cannot afford as a society, to normalize behaviors that are anti-social. End of speech. ha!

  7. Hi CZ,
    A great post! I found the definition of the terms helpful. The stories from links and hearing other's personal stories in the ACoN community are frightening. Words hurt whether it is said to our face or written down.

    In some ways the internet has made us less connected and more connected from each other. It is such a paradox and how ACoNs can find healing through each other stories we find we can easily become attacked the same way. Trolls and bullies have an element of disconnection to how other's would feel if such words were read when someone else is in pain and grieving.

    I really learned so much from all three posts and thank you for sharing your personal stories. xxTR

    1. Hello dear TR!

      It always helps me to put my thoughts into words. After being online for a decade, there's a wealth of experience to draw from on a continuum from complete and total naivete (newbie) to wise old cynic suspicious of anyone signing off with "smoochies!" ha!

      You are so right about the Internet connecting us in ways that are 'miraculous' while at the same time, disconnecting us from one another (and perhaps ourselves). Sometimes it's a blessing when the Internet crashes and we have to get back in touch with ourselves because there's nothing to distract us from our thoughts!

      Even with all of the dangers mentioned in my Online Narcissist Series, I wouldn't sacrifice my WoNderful online relationships to avoid conflicts like PuppyGate or a DustUp. When could a woman (who dislikes traveling) expect to forge friendships while dressed in plaid slippers and zombie pajamas???!!! I used to put on makeup when attending a tea parties I put on reading glasses with pearl retainers. ;-P

      And thank you for everything you share, too; in particular your recent posts about Suzette Elgin's book, "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense."


  8. Hello CZ,
    I have been enjoying reading your blog and Stormchild's blog, Gale Warnings. My comment is a bit off-topic, if that's okay. I found something you said recently about No Contact and its abuse, along with why you think No Contact is not always realistic. Could you elaborate on that a bit more? I am thinking of how a person should respond when encountering narcissists or other personality-disordered game-players in a work, church or neighborhood setting. Even though these aren't intimate family situations, narcissists can still do a huge amount of damage. Thanks!

    1. Hi! I'm so glad you're enjoying Stormchild's blog. She is sorely missed.....what a kind thing to leave her blog for other people even though she hasn't posted in ages. You've asked an excellent question about using No Contact to punish others, something I believe narcissists are prone to do. I can't do the topic justice in a comment so let me write an article for this blog and we can explore the ways narcissists "appropriate" information and suggestions intended for people who must use extremes to protect themselves.

      We're having serious problems with our Internet, so I may not be back online until it's repaired. Everyone in my home has at least two devices plus laptops and desktops and Netflix. When the Internet goes down, we stare at each other as if we're strangers and then remember we need to pee. Nothing distracts quite like the internet. ha!

      I'll post the No Contact article soon because its a topic worthy of discussion and thought. I would appreciate people's comments and experiences---so prepare to share! <3


  9. I know a lot of us need that article on NC soon, because we are walking a tightrope on this subject. God Speed, CZ.

    You have a nose for the immediate issues. Crucial things.



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