Tag Archives: Compassion

Internet Trolls: Blech

Trolls have moved out from under the bridge and into your computer.

Not those kinds of trolls, exactly. Although, I suppose that, under the skin, they pretty much are the same.

Mythological trolls are horrible, vicious, psychotic narcissists which delight in harassing travelers who have the temerity to actually walk along on public paths leading over a bridge. Internet trolls are pretty much like that, except replace bridge with comment section and walk along public paths with exist.

An internet troll is someone who delights in the anonymity of the internet trolls, like their mythological counterparts, are horrible creatures who take delight in suffering.internet to tease, harass, humiliate, argue with, denigrate, abuse, make fun of anyone at all they happen to run across. An internet troll is someone who would go on a message board for survivors of sexual abuse and start talking about rape fantasies, or post pictures of bondage erotica where participants look unwilling.

They are, in short, asshats of the first order.

And, it turns out, my off-hand description of an internet troll actually has some basis in fact. 

The research, conducted by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba and two colleagues, sought to directly investigate whether people who engage in trolling are characterized by personality traits that fall in the so-called Dark Tetrad: Machiavellianism (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).

It is hard to underplay the results: The study found correlations, sometimes quite significant, between these traits and trolling behavior. What’s more, it also found a relationship between all Dark Tetrad traits (except for narcissism) and the overall time that an individual spent, per day, commenting on the Internet.

So, yes, it seems that internet trolls are willing to manipulate and deceive others, believe it is their right to harass anyone they choose, lack remorse and empathy and are sadists who take pleasure in the suffering of others.

Yeah. That sounds about right. Fortunately, we haven’t been witness to many of these types around here. I mean, I did get a piece of hate mail that cast aspersions on my ancestry and physical composition, but I saw that more, well, just a jerk.

The thing about trolls is they like to stick around and see the results of their vicious behavior. The sadder thing is that these trolls actually glory in calling themselves trolls, they proclaim it and, it was this very sense of self-satisfaction that led the researchers to many of those they polled to create the study.

The researchers even constructed their own survey instrument, which they dubbed the Global Assessment of Internet Trolling, or GAIT, containing the following items:

I have sent people to shock websites for the lulz.

I like to troll people in forums or the comments section of websites.

I enjoy griefing other players in multiplayer games.

The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt.

Yes, some people actually say they agree with such statements. And again, doing so was correlated with sadism in its various forms, with psychopathy, and with Machiavellianism. Overall, the authors found that the relationship between sadism and trolling was the strongest, and that indeed, sadists appear to troll because they find it pleasurable. “Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others,” they wrote. “Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground!”

Horrifying, but true. The only sure remedy to this sort of behavior is to make sure you “Don’t feed the trolls.” That is, don’t react to their miserable behavior. If you don’t react, they don’t get the response they need to feel good about themselves.

It’s sad, really, that these people can’t find something constructive to do with all their energy.

This kind of behavior is why it’s so important that we parents work hard to establish and encourage empathy and compassion in our little dudes and dudettes. Greed and selfishness comes easy. We’ve got to work to understand and support the other.

What do you say? Let’s stomp out the trolls.

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Raw, Naked Desire

I must have you.

I don’t care what stands in my way. I will break down any wall. I will smash any window. I must have you.

No naked bodies, only raw, naked desire, stronger than sense, stronger than inhibition. The man must have that woman.

Consider that scene. Consider the legalities. The social niceties. All those things thrown to the wind in the face of raw, pulsing, surging lust. Watch that scene with any woman (or at least any woman I’ve ever seen it with) and she will tell you that this is one of the hottest movie scenes she’s ever seen.

What she might not tell you is that she’s envisioning herself as the Kathleen Turner character. She sees herself as that woman, the sight of whom is enough for a man to throw away his reputation and his sense, just to have a night with her.

This sort of desire is something most married or long-term couples seem to be living without.

Dan Savage, the sex therapist, says he thinks a little raw desire will win out over kindness and compassion and sensitivity almost every time.

People have to learn to compartmentalize. We all want to be objectified by the person we love at times. We all want to be with somebody who can flip the switch and see you as an object for an hour. Sometimes sex is an expression of anger or a struggle for power and dominance. They work in concert. People need to learn how to harness those impulses playfully in ways that are acceptable in equal relationships. 

A little of what I thin is going on is that the woman becomes excited when a dude does something like this because she sees his desire for her and it excites her that some dude needs her that badly. Turns out, I’m not just speaking out my hat this time.

I got a lot of that from a recent book called What Do Women Want: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire by Daniel Bergner. These women, and I’m paraphrasing here, want consensual force.

By which I mean that these ladies want to be with a partner they trust and then they want to surrender control to that partner, allowing the partner to decide what, where, who, how, when and how rough. Again, this is what I’m taking from that book and that is backed by science, not just blathering.

I think all this relates back to yesterday’s post about the chores study (in which men who do traditionally female chores are seen as less manly and less desirable by the women with who they live) because of the stereotypical gender roles assigned by society.

Dudes, in this role, are take-charge guys. They are the ones who decide what happens when, where, with whom, etc. Sound familiar. Do manly chores, be seen as manly. Be seen as manly, stir up impulses of that consensual surrender.

Let me stress a couple of things. Firstly, this is consensual. I’m not suggesting it’s against anyone’s will. Secondly, I’m also not saying that a woman’s natural place is in a subordinate position.

A thinker named Pepper Schwartz says that while women may have always had these types of fantasies, now they have permission to give voice to them because of how much power they have in real life. “The more powerful you are in your marriage, and the more responsibility you have in other areas of your life, the more submission becomes sexy,” Schwartz says. “It’s like: ‘Let me lose all that responsibility for an hour. I’ve got plenty of it.’ It’s what you can afford once you don’t live a life of submission.”

Obviously, there is a lot more to be said about this. Probably why there are hundreds of books about the subject. If you’re interested in learning more, I’d really recommend What Do Women Want. It’s a great book, full of good information and very readable.

For a shorter read (only barely, though), I’d suggest the article from which I took a bit of direction and some quotes. It’s in the NY Times Magazine and by Lori Gottlieb,  a psychotherapist in Los Angeles. She is the author of “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” and a contributing editor for The Atlantic. When I last checked, there were almost 1,000 comments on the article.

It’s definitely touching a nerve. Go give it a read. I’d love to hear what you have to say about it.

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On The Benefits Of Not Being A Nice Girl*

Catherine Newman does not want her daughter to be nice.

Newman, the author of Waiting for Birdy, writes atwww.benandbirdy.blogspot.com, had a recently published column  in The New York Timestalking about how the concept of being “nice” might be on that’s detrimental to any young dudette’s growth and development.

My 10-year-old daughter, Birdy, is not nice, not exactly. She is deeply kind, profoundly compassionate and, probably, the most ethical person I know — but she will not smile at you unless either she is genuinely glad to see you or you’re telling her a joke that has something scatological for a punch line.

This makes her different from me. Sure, I spent the first half of the ’90s wearing a thrifted suede jacket that I had accessorized with a neon-green sticker across the back, expressing a somewhat negative attitude regarding the patriarchy (let’s just say it’s unprintable here). But even then, I smiled at everyone. Because I wanted everyone to like me. Everyone!

The problem of being a dudette and being nice. It’s something into which I’ve run before and it never ceases to appall me. The very idea that a girl needs to be “nice” if she’s to be accepted, that she has to cauterize select areas of her personality, always be chirpy and nice and smiling. . . Ugh.

And, yet, it’s something we seem to see a lot of these days.

Take, for instance, the character of Aubrey, played by Anna Camp, from the fantastic movie, Pitch Perfect, about a cappella singing in college competitions, is a perfect embodiment of this appalling character type. She’s always smiling, always talking nicely to people, but will not suffer any deviation from her plan.

Newman, though she might have had brushes with being that sort of person in the past, does not want her daughter to Aubrey-ify herself as she grows.

I bite my tongue so that I won’t hiss at her to be nice. I tell you this confessionally. Because do I think it is a good idea for girls to engage with zealously leering men, like the creepy guy in the hardware store who is telling her how pretty she is? I do not. “Say thank you to the nice man who wolf-whistled!” “Smile at the frat boy who’s date-raping you!” I want my daughter to be tough, to say no, to waste exactly zero of her God-given energy on the sexual, emotional and psychological demands of lame men — of lame anybodies. I don’t want her to accommodate and please. I don’t want her to wear her good nature like a gemstone, her body like an ornament.

And, currently, she is not in danger. She is decisive and no-nonsense, preferring short hair and soft pants with elastic waistbands. Dresses get in her way, and don’t even get her started on jeans, the snugly revealing allure of which completely mystifies her. She’s the kind of person who donates money to the Animal Welfare Institute and attends assiduously to all the materials they send her, including their dully depressing annual reports, which she keeps in a special folder. Gender stereotypes, among other injustices, infuriate her. “This is so stupid!” she sighs at Target, about the pink rows of dolls and the blue rows of Lego. “Why don’t they just put a penis or a vagina on every toy so you can be completely sure you’re getting the right one?”

Hah! That last line just kills me.

Now, I don’t have any daughters, only young dudes, but. . . Man, that does not sound like it’s an easy road to teach your daughter to walk. You don’t want any kid of yours to be nasty or spiteful, but you need to teach them to stand up so firmly and so fiercely they can simply shrug off the demands of lame-o men or women who insist that the only way they can progress is to give in and do what others demand of them because it’s “nice.”

Fortunately, I have a great role model to look at when I wonder how a successful job looks like. My sister, Tia, and her husband, the Teaching Dutchman, are doing a great job raising their daughter, Boo, to be who she wants to be. She’s strong, intelligent, athletic, courteous and doesn’t waste her time with foolish behavior. She’s everything you’d want in a daughter and can even be nice when she wants to. The thing is? She doesn’t let the imperative “be nice” rule her life.

Tia, the Teaching Dutchman and Catherine Newman all seem to be doing a great job with their respective female spawn. I can only hope that, were I in a similar position, I would be able to do anything like as well as they do.

*A version of this was accidentally published last week, with an original publishing date of May 5, 2013. This is the correct version, published on the correct date.

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