To be clear this is not a lecture or lesson on dealing with trolls. At least not in a formal sense. By all means take away what you will from this. But this is merely a reflection on a recent encounter with a person who has embraced being a running joke of an entire online community. And as the picture above shows I decided to take a different tactic -burn the house down to fix the problem- just this once to see if it would make even a fraction of a difference. Cold hard truth. Vulgar insults. A mixture. The other truth – “I don’t care.” Which ended up being repeated ad nauseam with no avail or effect. It was a absolutely fascinating experience for me, but that wasn’t the sole purpose of this experiment (I was hoping it would encourage accountability on those that support him as a Jedi Knight – spoilers, No.). Here is my account of what not to do. Because really – one ban click solves your problem (not the problem, but it might be very egotistical to think you can solve that problem).
Quickly – for a more accurate account on what I normally do and support in dealing with trolls, head here: http://www.jediliving.com/365jedi/jedi-vs-internet-culture-aka-trolling/
That said and done I finally wanted to see if accountability meant anything to groups handing out titles like special clubhouse passes. In case you are curious the answer is no. It is the usual turn and blind eye, allow the behavior, and thus by failing to confront it you encourage it. A recurring theme in certain online and offline Jedi Communities which annoys me because it perpetuates the behavior. And this is why I decided to go off books for a change. Spider in the house?
So I went fire with fire. “You don’t want to challenge me.” he said. “Fine. I challenge you. You are hereby challenged.” I respond. “Accepted” he answers. Oh noes. This means he is going to beat me up at the next Jedi Gathering. Or is it? My disdain for the individual was never a secret. The guy is a troll. He likes to run his mouth and this isn’t the first time he has made threats of violence should we meet in-person. A honest concern of mine (as I am not a fan of violence and we were filming a documentary at the time – so bad impression right?) my first time meeting him. In which he smiled and laughed and hugged me. All happy that we finally get to meet face to face. Yes, but about all those things you said? Called him on that and the next year we meet. Guesses? Again, as if we are best of friends. So am I worried about this new threat? No and sure because his previous threats have been empty, but also because a bully’s only power is fear. They use it for control. They use it as a way to manipulate people. Without it they have to honor their threats and there are problems with that (which feel free to point these out if someone is bullying you) – witnesses, legal repercussions, policy (school, workplace, organizational policies) repercussions, people not sitting by for their BS, that fact that fighting is rarely one sided and even one awkward punch can cause serious harm (the human body is amazingly weak and strong all at the same time). There are risks and many will only go forward with them if they feel very, very confident they can get away with them. This person may be delusional, but they know fighting me is not something without risk. So I have no fear of this person or their threats. And carry full expectation of laughing and trying to hug me.
But of course that wasn’t the beginning or end of the encounter. It was just another way for him to validate himself. Because I stated “I don’t care.” Several times in an effort to clearly highlight that his reasoning, ideas, opinions, advice, thoughts, all of it was wasted energy. You can only teach those that seek to learn. A reality of life. And so I conveyed my full unwillingness to even listen. Did that stop the constant messages of delusional superiority and belief that people are jealous of him? Of course not. So it continued. Don’t care after don’t care, it just kept coming. And so did his messages. So the truth then?
I threw it out there, done with the BS of it all. “You are a joke. Every Jedi holds this view of you. Not one Jedi takes you or what you say seriously. Even your supporters hold to, “he is a joke and that is why I like him.’ No one respects you. And this is all by your own actions, your own design.” His response, “I don’t give a f*ck what people think about me.” My response? “Yes exactly. I don’t either. But you are still here. Justifying yourself to me. Trying to defend and explain and convince yourself of these things.” The end? Of course not. I am the villain of this story and the hero cannot exit without defeating the villain.
It went on and in circles for some time. Finally I was left alone. I had given enough material for the troll to use. I am sure it will be spread around. “Look it at what Opie said to me! He was mean to me! And he wasn’t acting like a Jedi.” All which is true of course. I definitely took the time to throw my caring out the window and made the conscious decision to see if pure uncut as big as possible F-U would provide any level of change or realization. And certainly, not really what I would call the Jedi Approach. And no – it did not provide any level of recognition, change, reason, or even stop the constant messages. Again, eventually I was left alone, I suspect to other reasons (such as having to do other stuff). It was interesting, to be sure. But yeah – I can double down on my “Don’t burn down the house to kill the spider” philosophy. It is indeed pointless. And I stand by my original conclusions in the Post linked above. How do you deal with trolls? Be a Jedi. Make Use of Ignore and Block Options. Recorded the Problem and Bring it to the attention of those who can do something (even if just remove the person or just a shake a finger – at least show you won’t just sit there and take their garbage). Better that than the alternative which just hurts you.
Of course I enjoyed the experience, but I am glad to have it done with. It was draining, not worth the energy or time used. A certainly does nothing for me as a Jedi. Definitely a failure (regardless of reasoning), but I am willing to own up to that. Acknowledge my idiocy, learn from it, and move forward a bit wiser for the fall. Be a Jedi. Use that block button. And focus on the things that matter. Which is definitely not trolls playing Jedi and my time is wasted as a Jedi playing a troll.