When Trolls Respond – You Don’t Have too

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It inevitably happens. You are posting a comment on social media. Maybe find a blog post and make a comment regarding your thoughts on what is published. Much of our conversations online are not immune to conflict, disagreement, and even disparaging remarks. However, it inevitably happens where some of the comments become vitriolic, personally attacking you, and are quite demeaning and down right nasty. Such commentators have become part and parcel of the ongoing discussions in our modern day and age.

So, how do we deal with those people that make such vulgar comments attacking our integrity, character, and what we believe and stand for? It is not easy. Especially when they decide to send you private messages.

I have personally dealt with my share of internet slander over the years. Whether it is discussing politics, religion, or even merely commenting on particular issues being buzzed about on various social media platforms. Someone, or multitude of individuals, will always mock and ridicule. Sometimes by not even responding to your comments and simply use emoticons inappropriately.

One of the best ways I have found is to always remember that there are proper ways to engage in online conversations. For my websites I have this posted Essential Qualities of Online Discussions as a reminder of how important it is for me (and a reminder for those who wish to comment on my posts) to follow these guidelines. No, I am not perfect in doing this all the time and slip up because of my own defensiveness and pride.

Problem is, for me anyway, that while it is good to hold out expectations that others may follow. Those who engage in disruptive and antagonistic behavior in their comments are not going to be respectful.

Why am I bringing this up? Because I had come across something on my Facebook news feed that did not sit well with myself and those who hold to a particular faith. I engaged in conversation and responded to a gentleman regarding some misinformation that was being presented. As the conversation (short-lived), I decided it was best to no longer participate in a war of words.

Unfortunately, the apparent ego, pride and arrogance may have motivated this individual to send me a private message via Facebook messenger. Fortunate enough that it was in my spam folder and I did not see it until today.

Keeping myself in check – I had to take a step back and just distract my own thoughts. See, I wanted to defend my integrity and honor. The reminder of being mindful and focused on what is more important helped bring me to a place of calmness and serenity.

So, I blocked the individual. And that is the most powerful thing you are able to do when someone oversteps the bounds of being merely unruly and disrespectful in their comment toward you publicly. However, when it comes down to making personal and slanderous attacks – by all means, disengage and utilize that block feature. After all – that is what it is there for.

Now, what exactly did this individual message me about? What was the context of the conversation? Regarding the latter question, it had to do with the Latter-day Saint Christian Faith and the ongoing conversations concerning perceived bigotry, misogynistic, racism, and sexism. After my comment – I noticed this individual appeared to struggle with some bitterness, anger, and resentment. This is, of course, observed through the statements being made toward those of the LDS Faith in general, and more specific to individuals engaged in conversation with him. I made two additional short comments where I merely asked a rhetorical question. I followed up by another rhetorical statement of what I observed to be this individuals on hatred and bigotry toward those of the LDS Faith.

Since I disengaged in furthering anymore comments and discussions – here is what I was sent by this individual. Mind you, this individual claims to be an atheist and claims to have grown up in the Church (in one comment, he appeared to reference how he grew up in a Moron Church).

My hatred of Christianity as a cult,and the many off shoots of smaller cults such as yours is well known, feel free to forward my views to Kolab,maybe someone in the organization will excommunicate me or burn me at the stake,as Christians have historically done

He further followed up with this statement:

For someone who changes tires,religious theocracy may be above your mental capacity ,stick to your koolaid

And to fully understand the full context of this conversation here is what I responded to :

when you get the chance,ask your god why blacks were described as wearing the mark of Cain,why black were denied membership befor 1978,why women we’re excommunicated for supporting the E.R.A.,why gays are excommunicated, this argument is greater than magical underware,but more about the indoctrination of your youth through their teenage years of seminary indoctrination to believe in racism, sexist, homophobic views, this is the same tactics as radical Islam and Nazi Germany ,plural marriage in the after life? Are you a willing participate, or do even know

My response followed. I have updated the comment here with links to two books I mentioned available for purchase through my Amazon affiliate:

You stated: “When you get the chance, ask your god why blacks were described as wearing the mark of Cain, why blacks were denied membership before 1978….”

My response: When you get the chance, use some actual critical thinking skills and do some research before allowing finger tips to happily tap dance across your keyboard in an attempt to posit logical fallacies and false information. Otherwise, you may end up looking like an intellectual imbecile and arrogant fool lacking intellectual honesty. Let’s address the first false statement concerning the teaching that African American’s were described as having the mark of Cain. This also includes the notion of Ham’s Curse.

This doctrine and teaching actually is rooted in Colonial American Christianity and worldview. It is the main foundation for the justification of slavery in Early American History. A teaching and belief system that predates Joseph Smith and Early Mormonism. For instance, The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by David M. Goldenberg discusses this issue. Stephen R. Haynes published his own book titled: Noah’s Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery’ (Oxford University Press).

The second false information is your presumptive claim that African Americans were denied membership before 1978. No individual was denied membership. And in fact, during Joseph Smith’s life, an African American was ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood. I provide some insight into this issue in a 2012 article: Mormonism, Blacks, and the Priesthood . And for the record, the Southern Baptist Convention made a statement of reconciliation in 1995 concerning their history of supporting and exploiting slavery in 19th century America.

As to the nature of women being ex-communicated because of their support for the Equal Rights Amendment – I found this document dated 1978 concerning the nature and significance of the ERA (funny, History is hindsight 20/20). From what I have researched on this issue, Sonia Johnson was not excommunicated for her support of the ERA – she may have been excommunicated for apostasy and making false claims related to her support of the ERA in the 70’s and 80’s.

Regarding “gays being excommunicated” is also a false statement. Any person engaged in committing sexual transgression and sin is excommunicated for such acts. Rape, Adultery, Incest, etc. In fact, there is justification for excommunication based on the seriousness of one’s sexual transgression – and this is not merely a one time incident where one is excommunicated. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians in 1 Corinthians 5 detailing that not only where the members in the Church at Corinth tolerant of sexual deviant behavior – that they were tolerant of a sexual deviant behavior that even the pagans around them considered morally repugnant. This sexual deviance involved a Christian engaged in ongoing sexual relations with his father’s wife (what we may now refer to as one’s step mother). The Apostle Paul called for strict disciplinary action that included purging the individual from the fellowship (KJV refers to this as “casting out”). Identifying oneself as being Gay does not set the course of excommunication. Engaging in ongoing sexual behavior that is considered morally wrong and a serious transgression of eternal laws and principles may very well require excommunication.

You stated: “this argument is greater than magical underwear, but more about the indoctrination of your youth through their teenage years of seminary indoctrination to believe in racism, sexist, homophobic views, this is the same tactics as radical Islam and Nazi Germany, plural marriage in the after life? Are you a willing participate, or do even know”

My Response: Again, intellectual dishonesty through inflammatory and incendiary vitriolic. The Church of Jesus Christ does not engage in “Indoctrination” of the youth to believe in “racism, sexist, homophobic views” and is not akin to the same psychological warfare imposed Nazi Germany. This is mere slander and disingenuous and continues to show the foolish lengths of harboring such hateful and distasteful views.

Provide any sound and intelligent reasonable support where Latter-day Saint Christian youth are “indoctrinated” with racist, sexist, and homophobic views. Prove that such tactics are similar to those of Nazi Germany? Do you even know exactly how the Third Reich rose up into power and slaughter over 6 million Jews, Political Prisoners, and Homosexuals? Can you do so from a more honest and critical thought process and not a third grade emotive and reactive playground response?

Sounds like you embraced the indoctrination and programming cult of Atheism. Your foolish hatred on display here knows no bounds does it?

By nature, the response to my commentary follows thusly:

Sounds like you drank too much of the kool aid,trying to justify such bigotry. excommunication of gays is for sexual deviance, thank you for making my point,the excommunication of the woman you mention was not for supporting the E RA but for making false statements about it, such as women deserve equality ,thank you for making my point, your literature says God told you to treat blacks equally in 1978,thank you for making my point, your youth are not indoctrinated to believe A B orC,but you don’t deny indoctrination exists,thank you for making my point, you should be on my side,you made my points far more eloquently than I could with my third grade play ground way of thinking

Nowhere does this individual offer any attempts for reasonable and thoughtful discussion. And yes, in my response my tone appears quite terse, I merely called out the behavior of what is being observed in his manner of commentary. Instead, this individual employed quite a pedestrian Non Sequitur fallacy. This appears evident in his presumptive conclusions without actual proof or support for such assertions. He does not stop there.

Because I no longer held interest in furthering the conversation – he posted this comment:

what’s the matter? cat got your tongue? I know this religion all to well because i was raised in it, brothers and sisters attending services 10 times a week as adolescents is Indoctrination, i have nieces and nephews who attended BYU and Ricks college, many of my family were married in temple, ceiled for eternity, many served on missions around the world, when my mother and father passed my family and i recieved condolences from Elder Monson or maybe he was President Monson, Monsons missionary in Canada sucked in my parents into this cult, so I stand by my belief, this is a racist mysogonistc homophobic cult of the worst kind, right up there with Jim Jones and David koresh, the free agency you believe in allow me to say it as loud and often as I see fit, sharpen your pencils cultists, if not your minds

The rantings continue with this follow-up:

Damascus way really, for a tire changer, your arrogance is in your drug rehabilitation, your counseling of life’s problems for profits, i see right through you,,,not to demean ,but If I need advice I’ll ask the guy pumping, not the guy changing tires

The personal attacks (Ad hominem and Tu Quoque fallacies) appear to be more than cynical and scathing criticism. His last comment appeared to take a swing at my website Damascus Way Recovery without appearing to bother with reviewing exactly what that site is all about. Merely made a false presumption by stalking my personal Facebook profile. Second, he never asked exactly what I do and falsely concluded that I did work by “changing tires”. What I actually did was demount commercial tires from metal rims and then staged them for inspection to either go to the retread shop or be placed in a trailer so they can be properly discarded as junk.

As for the pot-shot at a career I held over 7-years, this individual has not been the first to demean the professional counseling field for mental health and substance use disorder professionals. No sir, you see right through false and irrational beliefs based on a very rigid H.A.T.E (Having Anger Towards Everything) for what you appear to disagree with.

One may wonder as to the reason for this post. Maybe asking the question are you not responding to the individual by posting this? To some degree – yes. It is responding to the inflammatory and vitriolic statements being made. More importantly, it is to show the nature of how such discussions may occur and proper ways to manage them.

How do we properly manage such conversations?

  1. State the facts as you best understand them and provide support. Remember, you are not only responding to the individual positing false and faulty information. Other people (if the individual does not block your or the comment thread is not deleted by an admin or moderator) will see what you have posted. They also will see the conversation.
  2. Do not take anything personal even when the individual (and in most cases several individuals) start making personal attacks, engage in slander, or make false assumptions and judgments about you personally. Their particular agenda is to feed off controversy and conflict and when you begin to attempt to defend your online integrity and honor you start slipping into a war of words that will never claim victory. Remember, majority of the time – their spewed words of contention and personal attacks may very well be a reflection of their own self-loathing and hatred of themselves being projected onto you (or any other person). Other instances, they blatantly do not care because -after all – it is the internet.
  3. Know when it is time to leave the conversation. Online communication really comes down to a no-win situation. It is like a heated argument one may witness. Arguments are never victories. Healthy communication involves mutual respect and willingness to understand another person’s point of view. If the individual is not willing to understand where you are coming from and continues to bait you into further discussion then that is the flag to step out of the arena and leave the conversation where it is at. Far better to state the facts and support your facts and then leave the rantings where they lay.
  4. Finally, understand that in online communication you are not going to win friends and influence people in a way that is going to get them to concede and accept your viewpoint. They may continue their merry way of posting false and faulty information and find someone else to attack. It is the norm of how such communication works today.

So, before going to respond – think through whether it is worth your time and energy to continue the conversation with such individuals. Because, believe it or not, you don’t have to respond to someone goading a prescribed response.

The best way to develop a better approach to online communication is to review proper Netiquette.

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