One can only hope to never understand...
...the level of general angst, inner turmoil and outward bitterness it would take-- and the precariously narrow-minded path by which to take it-- to become a person who finds pleasure in making beautiful things ugly.
I used to try to understand it.
...It was so baffling to me to consider how a grown adult could possibly say to strangers some of the things I've read--let alone search for opportunities to do so. I was baffled to the degree of nearly being intrigued you know. Then one day I remembered a line from one of the Batman movies where Batman ( the Christian Bale Batman ) was wracking his brain trying to understand the Joker ( RIP Heath ) in order to perhaps better strategize how to end the reign of terror the Joker was imposing on Gotham City. In a contemplative moment Bruce turns to his butler / surrogate father, Alfred, and philosophically / rhetorically asks something to the effect of "What would cause a man to do the things the Joker does?" Without skipping a beat Alfred ( Michael Caine ) stops as he is leaving the room, looks at Bruce with a notable sadness for what he is about to acknowledge, and says...
"Some people just want to watch the world burn."
It was something that Bruce had never considered just like some of us have never considered is the case with many of those who spit poison on social media. Sometimes those poisonous statements are small inflammatory remarks designed to start the ugly engines for a go around the track. Sometimes they are vile death blows designed to maim and kill. But they all share the same ancestry being born of small blackened hearts.
In regard to my own trolls...
...there was a season where, I felt compassion for it to the degree that I would try to reach that heart in hopes of helping that person understand that I was no threat to them. I would go so far as to agree with their assessment of my 'whatever it is they were hating on' and ask for help in improving on it. At length though I realized it was pointless and that the kinder and more understanding I became... to the deep-lined-trolling troll... the real deal troll if you will... the more vile and ugly-bent they became. So I hatched a new plan that has been near perfectly effective, hence this post.
I decided that trolls and I were done whispering our sweet nothings to one another. In order to end that all-consuming-drivel in my life I needed a way to accurately determine whether or not someone who was being ugly towards me was a troll, or if they were just having a really bad day, or even if I had simply misunderstood the point the individual was trying to make and became offended by my own insecurities. That is a BROAD spectrum and therefore a strategy / protocol needed to be put in place. We needed a full proof method... and here is what we came up with in the Bat Cave.
1. No jumping into the yard with bulldogs
First we employed a rule of thumb that I tell my kids all the time... ( Not picking on bulldogs here. I love them and they are also the perfect analogy here ) ...A bulldog doesn't feel pain like most animals do. Their jowls are made for biting effectively. Their minds and bodies were made to fight. It's their bred purpose to have those traits and be highly protective of what they understand to be important.
So never jump over a fence into the yard of a bulldog. You have incredible, highly functional and vitally important traits of your own that serve YOUR purpose in this world. Don't try to use them against a battle-born dog. Just as an instance of fulfilling your purpose makes you happy... as so it does for the bulldog. In other words... you can't win. The troll is there FOR the fight. The conflict itself brings the joy THEY seek. Their is no resolve leading to a common plateau that will make you both happy. The very definition of happy and how to get there are polar opposites. Simply engaging is to lose. You'll walk away upset and they will be happy.
Troll debates are very much so like being in a relationship, friendship or work environment with a narcissist. You can't win. You will be baited-in and fed on as many times as you are willing to not learn your lesson. And when you've finally had enough and move on limping away to fester, seethe, bleed and hoping to heal ... that narcissist, that bulldog, that troll the same... they'll not think of it again beyond the passing thought of hoping you are stupid enough to try again some day.
2. Check yo-sef befo you wreck yo-sef
A good covert troll can needle you just so... just as easily as an exhausting day might have your faculties numbed & dumbed to a point where you are simply misunderstanding what someone is saying. So...before going to the final step in this protocol, or firing back, ask yourself the real question...Am I wrong here?
Remember that time is on your side. You owe no one an immediate response, least of all a rude stranger. If your goal is to be heard and understood... first make sure you are hearing and understanding. Take an hour, take a day. If you are bent on insulting someone back even... it'll be equally effective tomorrow. And hell you might even come up with a better one if you chill the heck out for awhile. So, while the whole point of this blog post is to stop doing exactly that... the returning of fire... the idea of waiting to do so helps illustrate the point. Just wait... just wait and at least do this next step before slapping away at the keys.
Also, and likely the most important thing to remember is this... someone disagreeing with you is not offensive or trolling by simply by association. It of course usually IS a part of trolling-- AND disagreements CAN be offensive but the reality is that people have different views and should be able to openly discuss them without friction. It's how most great things have come to be-- many minds working together to arrive at solutions and illuminations of one another's conceptual understanding of a given subject. It's been only recently that a disagreement is considered a form of social or emotional violence. That notion is absurd frankly and I think we all need to consider that as often as we can.
3. Safe betting vetting getting too EZ not to do
Most trolling is done within niche Groups. This creates the perfect opportunity to vet the person in order to most effectively execute step number 2 above.
It goes like this:
John Doe comments on your post in a Group in such a way that you find markedly troll-stinky. Well then... flip him over and take a real whiff to find out. Do so easily by typing John Doe in the search bar of that Group. On desktop you'll find a search bar in the left column near the top about half a screen down or so. On mobile you'll find the magnifying glass icon at the top of the app on the right. All the interactions of that individual come up once the name is entered. If your John Doe is commonly ugly to others, move to step 4 immediately and then continue enjoying your life-- and pat yourself on the back for valuing your time in the way it deserves to be valued. If the search doesn't convince you either way, briefly visit the person's personal page. If it's full of similar rudeness or decrees of pride in being a harsh person... you have your answer-- jump to step 4.
Inversely speaking if the Group search AND the person's personal page / feed are calm, cool, collected and otherwise kind-- revisit step 2. If that doesn't help but the persons comment still seems inflammatory... hit them up privately with a little humility in tow. A PM inquiry like this goes a LOOONG way towards the conservation of your sanity and personal time... "Hey, I saw your comment on my post and I'm a little confused by what you mean. Did I offend you in some way? If so it wasn't my intention. I could also be completely wrong in how I'm reading it. Let me know if you can. Thanks."
Small efforts like that change everything insofar as how people view the possibilities for peace on social media. It causes people to consider that they too can seek true resolve. I've done it MANY times and have been shocked at the outcome. Responses like.... "OMG no!! I am so sorry. What I was saying was that _______" or "That's what I meant but in retrospect I'm sorry. I was just having a bad night and when you said _______ it really effected me because ________. Thanks so much for not lashing out on me in return." or " Yes, I meant that. It pisses me off when people say ____________________" I've had that one happen and we both quickly learned that the person had completely misread my point. I've also had people completely re-admonish me in the private convo, but do so better explaining why... and they were absolutely in the right.
The common thread though in most ALL of these PM scenarios is that I made a friend in minutes... vs. forging an enemy over the course of hours.
4. Bye Bye bulldog
If the vetting proves this John Doe to be a troll, or dark hearted ugly-maker otherwise, I cannot begin to explain how awesome it feels to not engage and simply BLOCK them on the spot. Right then and there... BAM... bye. In truth that person doesn't deserve my time, sanity, blood, skills, wisdom, experience, words... any of it. If I engage they get ALL of it. I know that's frustrating... and I am keenly aware that vindication, validation and even vengeance in those moments seems as important as oxygen... but we don't get to have those. When we shoot for them.. at best we waste precious time and bleed. At worst... we do those AND toy around on the precipices of embitterment. From a fella who has taken some serious falls I can confidently say that no one who toys around there often and comes out unscathed. I'd even venture to say that the more we seek vindication, validation and vengeance from and on those who just want to watch the world burn... the closer we ourselves are to being a party to lighting the damn thing on fire FOR them.
Disclaimer: I fail. I fail at everything I try even. I get angry. I even get butt-hurt... and sometimes butt-hurt on level 'auspicious' if thats even possible--like... to be prosperously butt-hurt... possessing a wealth of butt-hurtery. So please never read what I write as preaching from on high or even speaking from a place of 100% certainty. I don't know what anyone knows. I only know that it's important to share what we learn and believe to be true in a way that is productive and can perhaps offer SOMETHING, to SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE. I think that's the best we have to hope for in matters of the world -- in all it's topics that change shape and definition so dramatically and often that I am finally learning there is no code... no permanent prescription, no anything that we can really say is consistent enough to serve as a litmus for all situations. I am learning that at best we can reach a point where we are wise enough to begin asking some of the right questions. 3 of them would be... When YOU fail... and you WILL fail at some point... will you get back up? Do you really believe that you need validation from a foul mouthed stranger? And finally.... and most importantly... I ask you this... You of course agree that Christian Bale and the Batman Begins franchise was the best silver screen Batman right?
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BONNIE & BILLY J PODCAST INTERVIEW
BY ZEE TRAVELER & DAKOTA HOWARD
Billy J is co-founder of Story Moto ADV, a dual sport / adventure riding brand with strategic initiatives serving the health of the adventure touring community in order to develop a unified voice for speaking resolution into motorcycle land closures in the U.S. due to overcrowding and other public land use conflicts. He has been a rider for 45 years, an extreme adventurer for 31, and an avid dual sport adventure rider for 20. His first time living on a motorcycle for more than a year was in 1988 and most recently for 16 months living and riding full time with his wife Bonnie J and their kids on a tour that wrapped up in the summer of 2019. The are plugging away at the Story Moto ADV compound for another round set to commence in the Summer of 2020.
CONTACT BILLY J: STORYMOTOADV@GMAIL.COM
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