Kathy Broady’s Thoughts about Trolls and Online Safety
The 10-question survey about the new Discussing Dissociation Community Forum is getting filled out by bunches of interested trauma survivors. This is excellent to see! I am so very very appreciative to hear from each and every one of you. Thank you! Not to worry, if you haven’t filled out your answers, there’s still time to do so. And please do! I’ll be happy to hear from you too.
While reading through the answers provided on the survey, there are several repeated themes. One theme, in particular has come up over, and over, and over.
According to the comments being received on the survey, y’all are worried about trolls. No one wants to to have the Forum wrecked or ruined by trolls.
I realize this is a difficult and complicated topic, and I couldn’t agree with you more. So while the topic of trolls is on your mind, I want to make a few comments myself.
Definition of Internet Trolls and Gaslighting
I despise trolls.
I truly cannot tolerate people hiding behind the anonymity of the internet, and using any online platform to bully, intimidate, attack, trick, deceive, coerce, or abuse other people.
Words on a screen come from real people and are read by other real people. Words can trigger. Words can stir emotions. Words can induce switching. Words can create chaos. Words can hurt.
In my opinion, trolls are predators and abusers. They are no different than the perpetrators out there who hurt, offend, and abuse people in real-life situations.
Wikipedia defines an internet troll like this:
“In Internet slang, a troll is a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses and normalizing tangential discussion, whether for the troll’s amusement or a specific gain.
This sense of both the noun and the verb “troll” is associated with Internet discourse, but also has been used more widely. Media attention in recent years has equated trolling with online harassment.”
Trolls are often experts at gaslighting.
Wikipedia defines gaslighting as:
“Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s belief.”
That all adds up to say that yes, trolls do a lot of damage, create a lot of hurt, and wreak far too much havoc.
So of course, I agree with your survey comments completely. I don’t want trolls around either!
I believe that dissociative trauma survivors have already been hurt far far too much. The amount of hurt and pain that a dissociative trauma survivor has endured is just beyond comprehension. It’s not like there is an “allowed fair quota” for how much trauma people can have in their lives, but if there was such a thing, DID survivors have far far far exceeded this amount.
DID survivors certainly do not need to battle with trolls, struggle with gaslighting, or endure more emotional abuse. Internet trolls have no right to abuse anyone, especially not the trauma survivors who are part of this healing community.
Trolling is seriously a form of abuse, and it’s seriously wrong.
The Importance of Online Safety
I have taught about internet safety before, and on the eve of building a new forum community, it’s a perfect time to bring this topic back to the surface.
In this day and age, internet safety is essential. Taking good care of yourself online, and for DID survivors, protecting your system from internet predators is crucial.
Keep your privacy. Don’t share your legal name. Don’t share your contact details, or your address, or your bank account. Don’t fall for scams. Don’t send money to weird or unverified places. Be extremely careful about who you buddy-up with. Make sure there is an accountability to who the person is. Keep your internet relationships visible and transparent. Make sure that your internet relationships are not hidden in secret, and not tucked away where no one else knows that person is talking to you.
And if you are feeling bullied, or harassed, or pushed, or controlled, or manipulated, believe yourself, believe in your feelings, and get immediate distance from that person.
Most definitely take some time away and have an honest look at this relationship.
Describe it in detail with your therapist or a trusted friend, and get some perspective on what’s happening. Listen closely to your insiders, and get a full accounting of what everyone in your system sees and hears.
Don’t just pretend nothing is wrong when there really could be everything wrong.
Your safety depends on having the courage and the willingness to really see what is going on.
Cyber Safety for Dissociative Trauma Survivors
For dissociative trauma survivors who have soooo many wounded areas, young child parts, troubles with switching and amnesia, too many blind spots, or unhealthy compulsions to go towards predators, this is a particularly important topic.
Certain people in your system will be more vulnerable than others. It is highly important that your system protectors are fully aware of all relationships at all times. Your protectors cannot protect you if they do not have all information available to them.
Please note: If you are experiencing time loss and unexpected switching or uncontrolled switching while you are in a particular relationship, this is a big giant red flag. Let the changes or wobbles in your system’s behavior be the barometer that tells you when something or someone is not okay or safe.
Internet predators, just like in-real-life person predators, know how to groom their victims. They know how to pretend to be a friend, pretend to be kind, pretend to be understanding…. only to dig in their abusive claws before the dissociative person sees it coming.
This is horribly tricky and sneaky deceptive because, as you know, one of the areas I teach is all about being kind to each other.
Yes, of course, I want you to be kind to each other — inside and out.
Genuine kindness and compassion are essential for healing.
Lots of the readers have seen my soft and compassionate side. Many of you have even experienced my soft side, when meeting in person, in blog comments, in emails, or Phone Consultations. It is true — I have a gentle, tender heart. I feel much tenderness for the dissociative survivor community, and my soapboxes are all about treating people and their systems with kindness. I really do believe in gentleness, love, kindness, compassion, peace, goodness.
When Providing Internet Safety at This Blog
I am not a pushover.
And while I approach trauma survivors with kindness, I feel quite fiercely protective over my people, and fiercely protective over my area, and I have no problems shutting the door on abusive behaviors.
I do not want people to get hurt.
I especially do not want MY people to get hurt.
I take a very strong and active stance on protecting and sheltering the people who rely on me. I do whatever I can to keep this environment safe and untarnished by predators.
I hope your system leaders follow my example because it is crucial to protect your people from abusers too. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes persistence.
This is why every single comment on this blog — all 9,453 comments as of this moment — have been read by me, and either approved or NOT approved for public view. Many comments have been edited by me for privacy purposes or to add trigger warnings, etc.
It has taken a lot of time to read — and potentially edit — all 9,453 comments.
But it’s worth it, and I will NOT post comments that have troll-like slurs in them. Safety matters, and troll-abuse is not accepted here.
Freedom of Speech vs Internet Trolls
Of course, there is a fine line between genuine conversations and addressing conflict and expressing difficult emotions in acceptable ways, versus expressing anger in hurtful or damaging or unacceptable ways.
Also, “already known” people in an online community can express a wider range of negative emotion than unknown people. Recognizing someone as a genuine, valid, long-standing member of the community automatically provides a different context than an anonymous troll who doesn’t care who they hurt.
It’s good to be real, to have freedom of expression, to have the ability to talk about your feelings, even your hurt feelings, without needing to attack or insult other people.
I think the quality of the comments here at Discussing Dissociation proves what I’m referring to. Of course, some of the topics discussed here are heavy, and emotional, and potentially triggering. That comes with the territory of talking about trauma and abuse, no matter what.
But the community spirit here at Discussing Dissociation is one of kindness, friendship, support, and understanding. We do not attack each other here. We can speak openly, and we can even address conflict or concerns or misunderstandings. But at all times, there is a clear expectation that we speak with respect towards each other.
There are no trolls here. They are not allowed!
What about Trolls and Online Safety in the Forum?
Let’s think about this.
I’ve had this Discussing Dissociation blog for over 9 ½ years. That’s a long time.
In 9 ½ years, there are nearly 10,000 comments posted on this blog.
And in 9 ½ years, the comment section of this blog has been free of spam and trolls.
If I do not allow trolls on this very public blog, do you think I will allow trolls to participate in a private forum?
I will state this loud and clear:
I will not allow trolls to post on my blog, and I certainly will not allow trolls to destroy the Forum Community either.
How Will Trolls be Managed in the Forum?
First of all, we are not inviting any trolls to join the forum.
I’ll say it now: “If you are a troll, stop where you are, turn around, and go away. You are not welcome here, and there is no room for you. Don’t bother coming in because we don’t want you around.”
Secondly, trolls have an endless buffet of free places to go, so lots of trolls will hesitate to pay the Forum Membership fees. It will be money wasted because they will get kicked out. On that basis alone, I would hope that trolls will be less likely to enter this private forum area.
But even if some troll-type person does join the forum…. Laura and I are prepared to knock them right back out, hard and fast.
Meaning, if anyone wants to mess up or undermine the Discussing Dissociation Community Forum, or be purposefully disruptive, or cause harm, they will be swiftly removed.
Inappropriate posts and inappropriate behavior will NOT be tolerated in the Discussing Dissociation Community Forum. Laura is already preparing long lists of Forum Guidelines, which include behavior requirements. Negative and destructive behavior of any sort will simply not be tolerated.
The threat of trolls is not taken lightly. Laura and I are committed to being swift, severe, and unwavering about the removal of trolls or anyone with abusive behavior.
Believe me, we will be massively UNIMPRESSED by any troll-like interruptions to our safe place.
Didn’t I start this post by saying I despise trolls?
There’s a very good chance that I hate trolls more than you do!
In all seriousness, Laura and I have already had many discussions about this troll topic, and we agree to err on the side of caution and anyone who appears to be causing troubles and damaging disruption will be quickly suspended or quickly banned from the forum.
WE DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR TROLLS.
WE DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR TROUBLE MAKERS.
WE WILL NOT HAVE ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR IN OUR FORUM.
You can bet on that.
I want the Discussing Dissociation Community Forum to be as safe and troll-free as the Discussing Dissociation blog comments have been.
No doubt about it.
Information about the Discussing Dissociation Community Forum
If you’d like to know more about the new forum, please go here:
You are invited to join the Early Bird Notification List and to complete a 10-question survey about forum related topics.
Your thoughts and opinions, hopes and concerns are more than welcome.
How about we go onward and upward with the supportive healing.
And may we all be troll free !!
Thanks for reading, and I appreciate your interest.
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation