Greedy Goblin

Friday, March 19, 2010

Critics and bullets

Adam informed us that Crankyhealer ragequitted blogging. I can't tell what the "community" lost, since I've never read her (not because it sucked, but because I never found it) and she deleted her old posts. Adam said "I always liked Cranky’s blog. She wears her heart on her sleeve, she’s enthusiastic, generous and amusing. And she puts a great deal of effort into her posts, with pictures and links, much more than I do when I just bash something out."

That's possibly true. But she definitely did not have what it takes to be a blogger, and she admits it openly: "I realized today I don’t have thick enough skin to be a blogger. The form of communication is not for me... I don’t need to be an illustration of what not to do. I don’t need pages of comments telling me that I suck."

Tobold wrote a worrying line, "If you turned round a corner in your office and caught two of your colleagues bad-mouthing you at the water cooler, you would probably be upset. Most people would. So if I turn round a corner in the internet and catch people bad-mouthing me on their blog, or on Twitter, I get upset too. And then I tend to air me being annoyed on my blog, at which point invariably some asshole turns up and threatens to "unsubscribe" if I don't stop posting personal stuff on my blog. That is the kind of people I'd really like to punch in the nose."

Maybe he'll be the next victim of Anonymous?

The solution is not "thick skin". You don't have to "fight" trolls, nor you have to "handle the bad-mouthing colleagues". They are not harming you! Their words are no more harmful than machine noise with the same decibel.

Once upon a time we lived in the jungle as apes. The apes learned the hard way that if a lion or another ape is roaring at them, soon it will attack. Their "knowledge" was hard-wired into their brain, as an unconscious scheme, an "ape-subroutine". It kept the little apes alive by letting them run from the attack.

We are not in the jungle anymore! The bad-mouthing colleagues won't grab spears to stab you! The forum trolls are not lions with huge teeth and fangs. They are just punks sitting by some computer 10000 miles away! You are completely safe from those retards who tell bad things about your person. Those who will actually hurt you are smiling into your face right now!

I have absolutely no problem with colleagues telling bad things about me. "Nice ppl" are always telling me back that "X told Y about you" and I can't stop wondering how can people value their time so low that they waste it on rumors. I have more trolls on my blog than the whole Single Abstract Noun membership combined. I had to turn on comment moderation simply because I couldn't keep up with the quantity of the litter they poured to my blog. I often had to delete 100+ "first", "u suck", "go back to wowgold lol", "the world is bad because of ppl like u", "you backstabbed Markco u piece of shit" and the legendary "/unsubscribe". I did not need the grind of deleting this, but not for a second did they gave me bad feelings. I still have to moderate 30-50/day but at least I don't have to worry that my comment section is unreadable because of them.

My personal favorites are the long wall of text comments and e-mails telling me that I'm bad. Not that my actual topic is incorrect, but that my person is bad. I always wondered what these people want. They definitely made an effort and also they can't expect publicity. Only I will see their rant. So what's the point? A crybaby - or something I thought to be one - on Angwe's site enlightened me. (Note: Angwe was an orc rogue camping Menethil harbor, ganking those who tried to use the boat)
Let me explain. He considered himself the opposite of the "submissive tards": a fighter. So he surely assumed that what he is doing is fighting, despite he was telling insults and doing nothing. He believed that his insults somehow damage Angwe. The term "thick skin" means some kind of armor against this damage, so it became clear to me that socials consider insults damaging on their own.

It's well-known that if you give electric shock to rats and at the same time switch a lamp on, the rats will fear the lamp itself, despite the lamp does not harm them. In their primitive brain the signaling lamp and the harm connects.

Dude, you are not a rat or a monkey or a dog! You are (or supposed to be) a thinking human being! You don't need armor against words, you just have to recognize that they are not harmful. They are just noise.

What will happen when you finally recognize that words are not dangerous, only your ape-subroutines misidentified them for bullets?

PS: Troll policy of this blog.


Ry said...

Interestingly enough, did you know that some recent management studies have found that the most effective managers have fairly low n-Aff? A low "Need for Affiliation", which means they don't really care what others think of them.

In other words, thick skin makes you good at managing people.

Jeanie said...

Uhm, I don' actually get what the reference of the last picture actually means ?

"I have absolutely no problem with colleagues telling bad things about me. "Nice ppl" are always telling me back that "X told Y about you" and I can't stop wondering how can people value their time so low that they waste it on rumors."
RL rumors aren't the same with internet trolling comments. With enough bad rumors, which lead to bad reputation, all the socials out there will actually actively do something against you. Didn't you say once before that succesful people are those who are anti social, but act social? Part of acting social is dealing with the rumors people throw at you, probably not all of them, but you can't just ignore them altogether.

Kaaterina said...

All you said comes naturally if you're tanking.

Basically, ape-subroutines can only take so much before they fry.

It's really quite amusing. Before, I got worked up on what PuG members thought of me. Now, since I'm a tank, I can tell them to either f off and let me tank, or they can spend the next 45 mins in LFD looking for a new tank after I've voteckicked them just before the last boss.

The RL comments is the same thing. If a person pulls his weight (or pulls others too) at work, it would be insane to actively do something about them. It's like shooting oneself in the foot.

Of course, this logic gives no defense against incompetent morons who don't know they're being pulled along. It's like 3 900 DpS 'fun ppl' votekick a 50k hp unbuffed tank just because he's mean.

Gevlon said...

@Jeanie: no, I told it's the anti-socials who can climb high in the current society. To get an elected/selected job (politican, manager), you must upkeep good reputation, look social and act anti-social.

However you don't NEED to be president or CEO to be happy and rich enough to buy everything you NEED (you don't need Lamborghini). In normal jobs and businesses your work is evaluated by objective criteria (the plumbing of the house leaks water or not, the tooth hurts or does not, the taxi reached its destination or did not). In these positions the opinion about your PERSON is completely irrelevant, and all rumors can safely be ignored.

Samus said...

I think you are missing another important part to this discussion, Gevlon. It should not matter to anyone if you are a bad person. Your physics class didn't sit down and talk about what a great guy Newton was, they just taught you the science. Maybe a blogger is a bad person, but that doesn't mean they aren't right.

Will said...

The key concept for feeling insults to mean something (at least from my perspective) is not that they are linked to actual pain or that the person insulting may later attack.

Instead what worries me most is the concept of the person who said whatever it was, disliking me significantly to express it in such a way.

To view it objectively - you would say if your actions caused that kind of reaction, then you would be cautious doing that particular action around those you want to impress.

The main time it is an issue is when you mistakenly feel the need to impress everyone - when obviously there will be some idiots with stupid views about what you post ...

Zeran said...

That's not totally true gev, the rumors still affect your business. It doesn't matter if you can make the tooth not hurt, if you're rumored to take sexual advantage of those under anesthesia, you'll have no clientele. If you're a "known" thief, it doesn't matter if you can fix the pipe. No one will let a thief in the house to see the pipe.

The affect of rumors is widespread and actually something worth considering. The only place they have no effect is in independent testing, where the evaluator has no knowledge of the person being evaluated.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything that you have written here. I've always tried to follow my life by this quote:

"True happiness is found when you are independent of the good opinions of other people."

The thing is, when you want other people to like you, you put yourself at the mercy of a completely random mechanic. It means that if someone wakes up in a shitty mood and then takes it out on you, you are effected by it. In effect you are giving away your personal power.

You also give away your personal power by blaming. If something happens to you and you blame your neighbor, or the government or this person or that person it means that you had no say in the outcome. You had no power.

In Cranky's case I hope that she is able to learn from this and come back a stronger person.

Gevlon said...

@Will: theoretically true, but unless you run for management or politics, you need to impress NO ONE

@Zeran: unless you live in a 200 population village, the only way to make widespread rumor is using mass media. That's defamation, and illegal, you can sue the guy who claim in a newspaper/blog that you abuse your patients. Without mass media, the rumor reaches few people, decreasing your client base in the magnitude of 0.1%.

Werner said...

Once again The Matrix provides the answer. What you say is so true and yet will be rejected by a lot of people out there. The social ape instincts are too strong. Refusing to play the social games makes it harder though. No free riding to that corner office.

Azryu said...

"In their primitive brain the signaling lamp and the harm connects. Dude, you are not a rat or a monkey or a dog! You are (or supposed to be) a thinking human being! "

Humans are just as susceptible to classical conditioning to certain stimuli, so I wouldn't treat that as a qualifier to label the rat's brain as 'primitive'.

For those who don't know about classical conditioning, look up Watson's experiment with Little Albert. Youtube video link below on the subject.

(skip to 2:30 for the part specific to conditioning)

Quicksilver said...

Couldn't have said it better myself.

It baffled me to find out that a blogger actually quit blogging because of the angry kidz from the internet. You dont need thick skin to deal with them and it's even not necessary to view it as a social-subroutine, it is way simpler than that.

Simply put, if a commenter has something constructive or useful to the topic to say then you read his comment, else its just /ignore.

Can it be harder than this?

If I would post about a topic, I wouldn't care what you think I am, what my mother is or whatever weird sexual preferences you think I might have. Until I post about any of those, I only care about the topic I am bringing up.

So unless you are on topic, you're spamming and I don't give a shit.

Sven said...


You're right to say that trolls can't really hurt you (well, in most cases anyway). Of course, there are a few really disturbed ones who go beyond that and become stalkers, who sometimes do physically attack, but that is incredibly rare.

The problem comes with those pesky "ape subroutines" you mentioned. Whilst a blogger may know logically that these people are irrelevant, it doesn't stop those subroutines triggering, which can cause stress even though their rational mind knows it's nonsense.

It seems to me that someone's ability to deal with that stress is what distinguishes long-term bloggers. You deal with the attacks with withering contempt and rampant deletion. Tobold deals with it by talking it through with his audience. But you both do something that helps you manage your own emotional response to the situation. That's what makes you both successful.

Gevlon said...

@thenoisyrogue: you don't NEED anyone to like you. If you choose someone to be in a closer relationship: choose wisely.

@sven: the point is that the emotional response to trolls is wrong on its own. I am NOT more annoyed by a "u r the lowst scum of earth" comment than a "cheap c!alis v!agra" one.

Miss Medicina said...

I think the part that you're missing is that it's not just an "oh my feelings got hurt" reaction.

You mentioned how much time you spend deleting troll comments and harassing emails and so on - it is your choice whether or not you feel it is worth your time to deal with all of that.

"The meta-game of talking about the game is too much effort, and is, simply put, taking too much time that I could devote to really ANYTHING else"

This is very logical and sound reasoning. She does not wish to invest the amount of time necessary to deal with the trolling and harassment, because she feels that time could be better spent elsewhere. Opportunity cost.

wickEdgirl said...

It is the not knowing who those insulting people are while still having the delusion you are making an emotional connection with them, that makes ragequits and emo behavior so prevalent on the internet.

If a complete stranger insulted you after eavesdropping on your conversation in a restaurant, you would think they are crazy and vulgar.

You wouldnt pack your stuff and go back home crying your eyes out. Why do people do *exactly* that on the internet?

What is the strangest is that most of these fake "relationships" (on blogs, in the forums, in guilds) function exactly like a very dysfunctional love couple, where drama is raised over the smallest insignificant things, that most other couples would not spend more than two words on.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Gevlon, perhaps your best post in months.

Plus mixing in Neo AND Clint Eastwood in your post in a way that actually makes the post better is some excellent writing.

Daavos said...

If you can't stab someone in the back, slandering their name/opinions is the next best option.

Taxiderm said...

Reminds me of a quote from Roadhouse:

"But what if they call my momma a whore ?"

"Is she ?"

Tonus said...

It *is* about having thick skin. The metaphor implies that having thick skin makes you less sensitive to minor irritations, so that they do not have an effect on you.

People who take every comment and statement personally have to learn to mentally dismiss them. I learned to do it years ago, but it took much longer than it really should have. These days a remark or comment would have to come from someone whose opinion matters to me, and would have to be relevant to me. Trolling is just noise these days. But I see a lot of people who do not learn that lesson.

Their skin is thin, so any minor irritant gets their attention and makes them feel aggravated. This includes anything that they should ignore because it is of no consequence. Until they get thicker skin, they cannot help but pay attention to useless junk that doesn't matter. Some of them lose sleep over it, or feel that they must get revenge or closure.

It's about prioritizing, similar to the efficiency you often speak of. What benefit is there to me in responding to someone who says something dumb? Nearly every time, the benefit is zero. You waste time and energy, so responding to them is a net loss. The best thing to do is minimize your loss, which means ignoring it and moving on and not giving it another second of your time.

Unknown said...

Actually opinions of people do actually matter. Hypothetical story. You are working for a firm and you dress to the "nines" all the time. You don't interact with people much because you are more interested in getting the job done. Therefore, your personal life is out of your business life. Ideal? No. What happens when people start making assumptions of you and believe you are gay. What happens if your boss listens to those rumors and offers a choicy position to someone that fits along his lifestyle and not what people think you are. You can be the best but your appearance both physically and in someone's mind is just as important. I would venture to say in the blogging world, due to internet screening (i.e. it's next to impossible to find where someone lives just by a post unless they leave a clue somewhere) words don't hurt as much because it won't affect your life directly. However, in the real world, the world of human perception and money? It can be a very dangerous tool.

Mikomi said...

I usualy can shrug off insults quite easily although they still depress me to some extent, but that might be because i have a few self-confidence issues and so any insult towards my charecter has me thinking about whether it might be true or not.

also (off-topic) i won't be able to raid with this saturday either as my new computer won't be here until Monday (22nd) at the earliest, good luck anyways.


David said...

Hahahaha. Awesomely appropriate picture at the end. And as far as people not people to handle what others have to say about them my father always says..."fuck 'em if they can't take a joke." Cranky needs to relax. You said it best when you said that people need to realize that there is no emotional connection to the internet anonymous, no more of a connection than an end-of-times preacher has with the citizens that give his soap box wide berth.

"With enough bad rumors, which lead to bad reputation, all the socials out there will actually actively do something against you."

The best way to let bad rumors become a bad reputation is by acknowledging them, and therefore giving the comments some since of legitimacy. Trolls are like children, if you don't pay attention, they get bored and go away. If they don't get bored and go away, you get to fuck with them, which I consider a bonus.

Yaggle said...

I do enjoy trolls sometimes. The foul language, drama, and other tasteless and foul conversations instigated by trolls are entertaining sometimes. I seem to get enough in major city trade chat though so I don't really need more of it on the blogs. Even just playing MMOs for a few years should thicken your skin plenty whether or not you read/write blogs much. Everquest and World of Warcraft definitely taught me not to get my feelings hurt and that talk is cheap.

Unknown said...

I have done entire Icecrown raids with level one characters whispering me insults, and if you dont /ignore them and dont respond they get REALLY irritated. To the point where it becomes very amusing to read it. I actually enjoy when people will spend 4 hours of their time spamming me when it literally does not affect anything. The only thing that bugged me was when he made a macro and filled my screen (blocking my DXE information), but i just moved my whispers to another chat box and continued to ignore him.

If I had put this troll on my ignore list, he would have felt satisfaction and victory, and possibly just moved to another character to start over. By actually ignoring him in the traditional sense I aggravated him to no end.

Nagbag said...

"Your physics class didn't sit down and talk about what a great guy Newton was, they just taught you the science. " by Samus

Well, history tells that Newton was, in fact, a big asshole to his colleagues. Which actually proves your point even more.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why i read your blog, and almost no other warcraft blogs.

Sven said...


"I am NOT more annoyed by a "u r the lowst scum of earth" comment than a "cheap c!alis v!agra" one."
I can see why you wouldn't necessarily be more annoyed by one than the other, but that's not necessarily the same thing as not being annoyed at all. Do you not feel any irritation at having to waste your time deleting such pointless posts?

Bristal said...

That's crap that you don't NEED people to like you. We all need to be liked/loved. In the ape-subroutine it kept us safely in a group that could defend and feed us. It also ensures our ability to procreate.

Thus not being liked CAN damage your access to resources and safety.

To say nothing of the need for us to like each other so we are not constantly at war.

The need to be liked becomes an issue of insecurity if you need EVERYONE to like you. If you get 65 comments of "right on!", 30 of "that's fine", 4 of "whatever", and 1 of "you are a bastard retard" and all you can remember is the emotional impact of the last one? Then you may have thin skin.

Anonymous said...

Most rumors can be safely ignored but it is also unwise to at least not make note of what is being said and by who.

Certain coworkers can start rumors about how stupid you are when in actuality you might be very bright. They get others to believe this is true, and they mostly buy it because they don't actually work with you or see the result of your work. Now imagine that this is taking place in an IT organization where how smart you are really counts. Of course your boss knows how smart you are so you feel safe. Until you realize your boss has just quit his job and is being replaced by someone who was part of the rumor mill gang. Eventually you will prove your worth but it made your life miserable in the meantime or at worst made you quit and look for another job. Rumors sometimes are not worth ignoring - just ask Julius Caesar or Marie-Antoinette. Sometimes the best way to confront a rumor is not to ignore it but to confront the person spreading it head on and in public. Then it will be their ape-subroutine that sends them running. In life there are no absolutes and that applies to rumours as well. You need to smartly judge which rumor can be safely ignored and which cannot.

Anonymous said...

A very rational post that i agree with, except for one thing: "I have absolutely no problem with colleagues telling bad things about me"

In a competitive environment, then enough slander could easily affect promotions, projects, etc. (whether it *should* affect anything is irrelevant to whether it does. And if you say that you work in an apolitical technical meritocracy where the best and the brightest make decisions and promote solely on technical ability... well my guess is that understanding the ways of socials and business people is not your forte and you may be missing some nuances. ) So it could benefit someone and cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a true career.

The Rokk said...

Kinda reminds me of an old parable:

One day an old Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson. He said, "There are two wolves fighting inside all of us - the wolf of fear and hate, and the wolf of love and peace."

The grandson listened, then looked up at his grandfather and asked, "Which one will win?"

The grandfather replied, "The one we feed."

By taking the noise of others and giving their words unnecessary weight and importance, we "feed the wrong animal."

Kaaterina said...

You guys sound like the hypothethical company a person works for is the last company on earth that will hire them.

You pull your weight, are competent, do your job properly, but are held back by the rumor mill-gang? Throw them a big 'f you', resign and get a job at a new company, with better pay and with a clean slate. Let your ex-co-workers figure out why they suddenly suck when they don't have anyone carrying them through ICC 25 anymore. (Mixing methaphors is fun, right.) If all smart, competent people would do this, I bet you'll see lots of 'fun freindly ppl' in big trouble when their stockholders demand more lines of code and less watercooler discussions.

Of course this requires you to have a reasonable estimate of your abilities.

In fact, Gevlon already has a post on this theme, about companies, the social strata inside them, and how not to get sucked in.

Hombre said...

Getting annoyed/sad/pissed off or whatever because people say something bad about you doesn't have much to do with a fear of being attacked. It has to do with a fear of exclusion.

Want of inclusion is a pretty powerful ape-subroutine for reasons you can easily figure out yourself. Almost everyone wants to belong to a group. Troll posts, hate mail and the like piss people off because they feel like they've just been excluded from a group.

Some succesful blogs are succesful because they make people of a like mindset feel included. That's the reason for the usual circle-jerk of comments after a lot of posts and the absolute rancid hate against people who dare to disagree with the original poster.

Ironically, this blog owes its popularity to exactly that effect; you are providing a group for people who are not that interested in groups, people who are proud to put themselves before others.

Of course, belonging to groups and fear of getting attacked are all part of some 'safety' ape-subroutine. But the need to belong gives a much better explanation for the phenomenon you're describing than the fear of attacks.