The Troll Wars – & what to do about them

BLOG: In the old story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff there was a big, nasty troll lurking under the bridge ready to devour the poor little goats. What a nightmare! Now in the twenty-first century the word “troll” has a completely different meaning, and we all know what it is. Trolls are internet bullies, lurking not under the bridge but behind the anonymity internet pseudonyms. The nightmare continues!

But it doesn’t need to, and that is the whole point of this post. I’m going to tell you a foolproof way to deal with trolls.

There’s been a lot of discussion about cyber-bullying in the Australian media of late. About a week ago Australian media personality Charlotte Dawson Checked herself into a clinic, suffering a kind of breakdown after she was ‘flamed’ big time on twitter. She tweeted “Okay, you win” just before she went down, so to speak.

Dawson is perhaps not so innocent, as she herself has made a name for herself in being a particularly acerbic critic on Australia’s Next Top Model. Charlotte Dawson is the show’s resident female version of Simon Cowell. So some people have said she that she got what she deserved.

I’m not taking sides in this latest troll war. I am just going to make a very simple point here.

Remember the old saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never harm me”? It’s what parents always told their kids whenever they copped a little verbal bullying in the playground. Today’s internet users in general should take heed, for this is exactly how you should deal with most internet trolls. But how?

I am pretty much immune to the trolls. I just can’t take trolling seriously. As a person who has spent twenty years practicing mindfulness and meditative reflection – and dealing with their own childhood “issues” – I find that the projections of others now have a diminished effect on me. In real life, I still find I sometimes have emotional reactions to various criticisms and putdowns; but on the net it is pretty much a non-issue for me.

Readers of my old blog might remember a post I wrote about the late, young Australian bodybuilder and internet entrepreneur Zyzz. It went viral. It was a real hit. Unfortunately most of the hits were to my head and body. The post was about the limitations of relying too much on attaching yourself to physical beauty and gaining an illusory sense of power over others and life itself. Some of Zyzz’ fans found the post, and launched a hellish tirade of hate against me in the comments section. My blog posts typically get two or three comments. This one got fifty!

Here’s just a couple. Look away now if you don’t like your “F”s and “C””!

The writer of this blog is an old man with no idea how modern life works. GTFO u fukking kunt…

This blogger is a sad excuse of human life. Go fuck yourself you fat fuck piece of shit. What kind of low life writes lies about another dead human being. You’re a sad virgin 4chan fat fuck who needs a solid ass whooping. Cum at me Bro…

(The blogger) is mad, doesnt lift (weights) and is a phaggot. this was all just a silly post to bring views to his blogging. sad cunt…

To be honest, after an initial moderate shock at the intensity of the first two or three comments by the trolls, the comments had little effect on me. I left the posts up, with the exception of one, where the troll attacked another regular blog member and called her a “whore”. I found myself feeling compassion for the posters, because I know what it is like to be angry and full of hate. I’ve explored that side of my own psyche to a deep level. These guys were just like me, only younger and little less developed in their spiritual maturity.

Here’s why this kind of stuff has little effect on me these days. Firstly I have a simple policy of walking away from any internet discussion where I find myself having a strong emotional reaction to someone’s posting or ideas, or what they say about me. A comment can only create an emotional reaction in me when I ‘attach’ myself to the thing, and when I become entangled in the story of it. The same comment has little impact on me from a distance, when I just let go and pull out.

Secondly, I understand well the nature of the human mind, and its tendency to project on others. Ego’s judge and condemn, and their agenda is to diminish or destroy the thing being projected at. The projections of internet trolls are precisely the same thing that everyone does every time they judge someone or a situation in their everyday lives. In this sense judgment – including that of the trolls – is a reflection of a person’s inability to control their own mental projections, and has little to do with the person or thing being ‘beaten up’. (So don’t take them personally!)

Finally, I have learned to bring my mind into presence at will. That means that even if I do find myself entangled with another’s projections – in real life or on the net – I can instantly bring myself fully into mental silence; back into the world of the real, as Morpheus says in The Matrix. And all emotional “drama” is illusion. It’s just the mind playing in the story of the past, bringing forward the hurt, shame and anger that lies within. As I wrote in my book Discover Your Soul Template, as soon as we bring the mind to focus upon something we can see, hear or feel, the world of the mind vanishes into the ether. And if it doesn’t, it just means that there is some ‘issue’ or hurt within yourself that you need to bring to the surface. Sure, there are times in life when you have to confront genuine bullies, and the internet is no exception. But those times are few and far between.

Human futures can never be merely about more technology, comfort and convenience. We have to open a space for people to move inward and develop an understanding of their minds at a first-person level. Some futurists think that a future where we can load our minds onto computers will be a utopia. Personally, I think that even if this is done, if those ‘minds’ aree as unconscious and ego-based as the vast majority we encounter on the internet today, all that we will get is a cyber-dystopia. A universe of ranting mental projections raging against… well, the machine. A machine that we have imprisoned ourselves in.

So next time you come to cross the internet bridge and you find a troll lurking underneath, just blow him a kiss and walk away in silent presence. It’s a lot more peaceful.

Blessings,

Marcus
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