Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Net Rage: Online "Friends" May Suddenly Turn Against You

A common experience with online "friends" is an abrupt explosion of hatred that seems unwarranted by the context in which it occurs. I call it "online mood swing syndrome" or "net rage". Psychiatrists call sudden temper tantrums Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder or Intermittent Explosive Disorder.

I was friends with someone on the web for many years. Let's call him Mr. X. 

Many consider Mr. X a vicious troll, due to some negative interactions he has had with some famous tech people that all geeky types know very well. I will not mention their names, to give Mr. X some privacy.

I have supported Mr. X for many years, we used to engage in video chat via Skype when that was first available, and when many tech people turned against Mr. X, I remained favorable toward him, because he never did anything bad to me personally.

Today Mr. X was enthusiastically praising someone on GooglePlus.

I happened to know that the person Mr. X was praising is a classic, well-known she-troll who loves to cause trouble. She's one of those blog haters who uses blogs to bash blogs, blogging, and bloggers. Yeah, really contradictory.

I disagreed with my friend Mr. X about the virtues of this she-troll. 

I posted a comment about how I ran into a conflict with this she-troll in the past. In my comment on Mr. X's GooglePlus page, I also linked to a Wikipedia article devoted to this she-troll, that's how famous the she-troll is.

Her Second Life name, and the avatar she used on Twitter, was "Prokofy", "Prokofy Neva", or "Prok". She has the reputation of being the most notorious troll, what is called a griefer, on Second Life.

I told Mr. X that I had befriended this Prokofy on Twitter many years ago, then she turned on me like a snake. I did some research and discovered the many references online to this trouble-making lady.

Well, Mr. X is all upset and enraged at me now, demanding that I "show some respect" to the she-troll. He is enthralled with Prokofy due to some opinion this troll recently expressed.

Because I voiced my viewpoint, based on actual experience with Prokofy, Mr. X is extremely angry with me, using filthy language, dropping hate bombs (mentioning aspects of myself he claims he has always secretly despised but "tolerated" -- like my religious beliefs), and suddenly turning against me with extreme hostility-- just like the she-troll did.

All the many years he and I have been "friends" online -- and he's letting one incident of disagreement negate it all.

Ah, enough social media drama.

My point is that you NEVER really know anybody online, if you don't also know them in person, in the real world. It's really an old joke to say "I'm friends with so and so, online I mean". 

Over the internet, it's mainly just text responding to text. How do you even know if what the other person has been communicating is real, genuine, truthful? A guy may be a gal. Nothing is ever completely certain.

"I've interacted with so and so for many years. We've shared intimate information and stories. I've seen photos and videos of him. I have no reason to doubt his honesty and integrity." WRONG.

You have no reason to trust the honesty and integrity of people online. You just go with the flow and tentatively assume they're being truthful. You just assume you have a glimpse of their real personality. But you never know for sure.

Even in the real world, people can deceive us and betray our trust.

But in the online realm, emotions, role-playing, deceptions, and misinterpretations can run wild. We don't have the nuances of physical presence, speech inflections, facial expression, and body language that we use for subtle cues in the real world interactions.

Some people put on airs. They act like they're rich, successful, professional, highly educated. They could be using a fake resume. They could be lying about their employment history, job title, career experience, college degrees.

They could be a homeless bum using a library computer. You never know.

We must be always prepared for someone online to snap on us. Unexpectedly. Abruptly. Violently. 

We must take it in stride and move on. It's really not a tragic deal when an online friend, even one you've been friendly with for many years, attacks you goes crazy on you. It might not really be about you anyway.

Maybe the person is drunk. Or had a bad day. Or really expects all online friends to agree with every statement they make. You'd be shocked at how many of your online "friends" are friendly toward you ONLY because you've never crossed them. Yet. You've never expressed an opinion that is contrary to their viewpoint. Yet.

Someday you'll probably say something to an online "friend", something they disagree with, something that makes them think you are making them look bad -- and they'll go ballistic on you.

Don't be hurt or dismayed. Some people are extremely juvenile, mentally unstable, or hot-tempered -- but they hide it well online. You just haven't seen their true colors yet.

Prokofy is an ally of the Amanda Chapel team troll that I have blogged about previously.

Prokofy Neva on Urban Dictionary.

No comments: