Internet Addiction and Trolling by those recovering from substance addiction problems.

Internet Addiction and Trolling by those recovering from substance addiction problems.

This is an old post but I can see that many people are reading it via a link from women for sobriety at the moment. I hope you do not have a recovery troll problem at the moment as it can be unpleasant. Ignoring them seems to be the best solution! I hope things work out!

A lot of people are fed up with the amount of trolling which takes place on recovery based sites, which is often very vicious and prevents proper debates taking place. Many of the trolls come from the dreadful Orange papers Forum, which is a badly run virtually unmoderated site. People from this site eventually get banned after months of arguing and take their pathetic rants onto other sites such as the fix. These people are incapable of building any kind of following on their own blog, and simply attempt to disrupt others. The have views which are extreme and are different to most people in recovery, but they get caught up in a dysfunctional online group and feel they are fighting for a cause. I think that some of these sad individuals, are simply displacing their alcohol addictions, with an unhealthy internet addiction. This post from some time ago, reflects some of the problems these idiots cause http://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/httpwww-orange-papers-orgforum-points-aa-75th-anniversary-big-book/ I belive the site owner may have cleaned it up a bit now, but it really is a horrible community full of two-faced idiots, who are friends one minute and fighting the next. I would strongly advise people to avoid joining the Orange-Papers forum as it is unsafe. If you go on any post that mentions AA on the fix such as this http://www.thefix.com/content/how-obamacare-killing-aa’s-membership#.VBfXYwMGIgM.twitter you will see a load of pointless arguing by people from the orange forum. This piece reflects some disgusting trolling where Orange Papers forum members try to blame a suicide purely on AA http://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/sad-suicide-due-alcoholism/  A couple of Orange papers forum members who are two faced and generally dislike each other, join up to have a go at me in the comments section. If you speak out against this Orange-papers.org  you get flamed, even on your own site!

Internet addiction may sound like a bizarre, harmless idea to many, but it does seem to exist and can actually do some harm. I have read a bit about it, after trying to understand why people actually spend time arguing on certain Internet forums, which are a form of social media for them. Internet addiction seems to follow other compulsive behaviour issues and can result in a really poor life balance. I had not taken it that seriously, as I did not believe it would harm people in the same way as alcohol or heroin addiction, but it can have a poor effect on your mental health if you cannot detach.  Often, people with low self-esteem are more comfortable meeting people on-line, than in person, especially if they have certain views or interests that do not conform to the norm. with reflection, I am not surprised that people who have suffered from other addictions also have problems with computers.

Everyone uses the net, in different ways and of course most of it is positive activity, for normal people. Many use the net a lot for work and social networking to keep in touch with friends and family. Spending time on the net only becomes a problem when it intrudes into the rest of your life, such as neglecting relationships, or work. If you keep repeating compulsive Internet behaviour despite the negative consequences in your offline life, then it’s time to strike a new balance!

People become addicted to the net for some of  the same reasons, as many develop substance addiction. Many people turn to the Internet in order to manage unpleasant feelings such as stress, loneliness, depression, and anxiety which is similar to reasons for substance abuse. When you have a bad day and are looking for a way to escape your problems or to quickly relieve stress or self-soothe, the Internet can be an easily accessible outlet, just like having a drink or ten. Losing yourself online can temporarily make feelings such as loneliness, stress, anxiety, depression, and boredom evaporate into thin air. As much comfort as the Internet can provide, though, it’s important to remember that there are healthier (and more effective) ways to keep difficult feelings in check. These may include exercising, meditating, and practicing simple relaxation techniques. I think normal social interaction with other people is really important as well as we tend to adapt our behaviour to those around us. Online, made up personalities are often strange people, who do not conform to normal standards of behaviour.

For many people, an important aspect of overcoming Internet and computer addiction is to find alternate ways to handle these difficult feelings.This is similar to alcohol or drug addiction. Even when your Internet use is back to healthy levels, the painful and unpleasant feelings that may have prompted you to engage in unhealthy Internet use in the past will remain, which are similar to the problems substance addicts have. So, it’s worth spending some time thinking about the different ways you intend to deal with stressful situations and the daily irritations that would normally have you logging on to escape the reality of life. I think people who have suffered from other addictions are especially prone to internet addiction. Often a person swaps one addiction for another, especially if they do not try to deal with the underlying reasons that provoke their addictive behaviour. This often takes some time and even then, some people do not seem to make much progress. Some of this is due to the poor level of treatment as many addiction counsellors have very little, in the way of training. There is a world of difference from Harley Street, to some local AA member who has been on a six-week part-time course!

An extreme form of internet addiction is trolling which is carried out by those with a sadistic streak, who enjoy causing pain in others. They are often found in on-line groups that are poorly maintained. They seem to enjoy starting arguments for fun and antagonizing users with their spiteful comments. They often wish to cause chaos and create bad feeling within an on-line community. Many are people who feel they are representing a cause, but they are often very different from members of their peer group and rather immature.

 

troll

If you tell them to go, they will attack or flame you and, then claim the site is a place for freedom of speech. Most of society in the West, sees “freedom of speech” as a good thing, but there are normal rules and conventions of society that need to be followed, so that people can coexist. For example, it is not acceptable to shout “fire” in the middle of a packed theatre, or shout bomb on an aircraft which are examples I found in an article (I actually experienced this once, and the person concerned got a really good kicking, which is again not good for community spirit several miles up over the Atlantic!), but you could argue that this should be allowed under freedom of speech.  You do need some rules and conventions, to limit those who will not limit themselves. The internet is no different and especially true in a group, where some of the members may be vulnerable.

 

As I said before, people who develop internet addictions often have low self-worth, suffer from serious depression and not with to have much social contact with normal members of society, as they often feel that they do not fit in. You can see that there are parallels with people who suffer from addictions such as alcoholism who often are low in self-esteem and have a tendency to isolate unless they are full of drink which they feel raises their confidence. A number of people do not get a huge raise in self-esteem during recovery, especially if they do not hang out with healthy people and become influenced by their rational behaviour. This can lead to them to retreat even further and the web allows this as you can search for a warped community to join.

 

I suppose you could regard being on-line, is a place that is generally free of perceived consequences compared to normal life. If people behaved as badly in the real world, as they do on some unmoderated Internet forums, they would probably be beaten up like the idiot who was drunk on the plane. When they are on-line, they never have to face the person they are dealing with direct, and that can give a pathetic, insecure person, with no job, partner or indeed any normal social life that extends beyond a tiny familiar group, to that feel they have some power in this on-line world. They will often exaggerate their achievements, to try to make themselves feel superior, and will find somebody they perceive as weak to attack.The internet is a place that a cowardly user, can forge an alter ego for themselves. They would often be viewed as quite pathetic by society, when they fail to interact in the real world. This can also be the case with people with addictions and even those in recovery groups such as AA, where they create a world based around meetings, and can be seen as a key member of a group when they repeat the group mantra in front of their sponsor and peers to feel a major part of the group. This can lead to a situation where people can only really function in the AA world, and although people say that is better than drinking, it rarely leads to a meaningful life long-term. These people often sadly fall apart at some point in their recovery, when facing difficulties. Again they have not managed to really come to terms with the underlying causes that pushes them towards addiction. I think some people are getting to the stage where they are only really functioning on-line for social interaction.

 

Restricting a lot of your activities, to spending time within a dysfunctional group rarely brings good health long-term and often results in serious depression. This actually happened to Bill Wilson, who was the leader of Alcoholics Anonymous, who suffered from depression for most of his “sober” life. He developed other methods of giving himself a burst of self-esteem, such as womanizing. Depression, along with low self esteem seems  to be a major problem for many that spend hours on end using chat rooms, or trolling discussion groups. I doubt that they are as successful at seducing young women as Bill Wilson was in AA and again have to resort to a fantasy world of stimulation via the internet. They often do not really function as regular members of society, and withdraw further into an on-line world that they convince themselves is a healthy support group.

 

An insecure person, can act out their feelings of anger and inadequacy on-line and hide behind the mantra of freedom of speech. It is nothing of the sort, as they actually drive out more balanced and less fanatical members of a community who are not interested in witnessing childish, antisocial behaviour or being part of a dysfunctional group. Sites that allow unmoderated trolling, experience a huge amount of arguments which increase in ferocity. The number of active members drop and you are left with a few extremists and antisocial types  and few other people lurking and watching the crazy behaviour in a voyeuristic manner. Many people watch TV shows such as Jeremy Kyle for the same reason. They are spectators of a dysfunctional world which makes them feel superior.

 

I viewed a lot of people in AA as dysfunctional and had a lot of pity for them. I realised that the group approach was not going to be a good one for myself and I needed to spend much time with people outside the recovery world. I had to find a balance between having some support and challenging myself in new areas. As time moved on, I needed less and less support but would drop into on-line blogs and became part of another type of community.

 

Some of these were better than others and for a while, most of them tended to grow quite fast and be dynamic. I found them quite appealing at the time, but then changed my mind about them rather dramatically. I found that some of the recovery based sites could become a bit stale, unless being driven by a site owner that was a good writer, such as the thought-provoking “Stinkin Thinkin”.

 

However there were problems caused by a minority. Often, petty arguments would break out and sites would become dominated by a few people who seemed to be on-line a huge amount of time and were definitely being affected by the “drama” taking place on a chat like interface. Recovery groups bring together a lot of people, who really do not have a lot in common other than a serious problem that has resulted in a mental health issue. For example, nobody normal would want to sit in more than a few AA meetings (90% of drunks run for the exit) as you will witness, a lot of crazy sharing, punctuated by a few more rational people, trying to hold the thing together. Add in the religion, the bigotry, the group mindset, along with anonymity and you have a pretty eccentric group.

 

I think some level of anonymity is essential in these groups. The on-line situation can get really nasty and often the same people cause problems on a variety of sites, where stupid rivalries and endless attempts at superiority are fought. On the addiction recovery on-line communities, a few of these people, from both sides of the argument, seem to base themselves on the unmoderated Orange-Papers forum, which has had a lot of problems with vicious arguing and even childish hacking attempts. Many members are fine on the site and try to discuss addiction etc, but are hampered by personal attacks, and “script kiddy” hacking attempts. A sad thing in the recovery world, is that people, who are not really equipped to deal with issues in life that well, can be attracted to these places and then get hurt or actually be the members causing problems. This is especially true in an unmoderated environment where the group are egging each other on and do not apply the normal limits of good behaviour. I am not sure that spending much time in an anti anything on-line community is good for your health. although you may connect with some like-minded people, you are still connecting with the thing that bothered you in the first place, even though you are aiming to run it down. I found it better to accept that I had made mistakes in my recovery such as going to AA which had resulted in anger towards some in the fellowship who I felt had wronged me. If I ha done some better research initially I could have saved myself some problems. It was useful to read that some other people had experienced issues in AA, as it validated some of my reasoning but attacking AA continuously would actually keep me in a really negative frame of mind. Going over negative things over and over again was something I left AA to avoid. Sites that do this tend to end up more extreme over time

 

People may search for a group that appears to have similar logical values as themselves, but actually find a fanatical hate group. I am no fan of the 12 step world but some of the behaviour that I recently witnessed on a so-called recovery based forum was simply “religious hatred”. It would not be tolerated in normal society, but an anti AA group think it is al-right to abuse each other and even make fun of people who are taking medication. In the next post they are damming the small section of the 12 step world, that do the same thing. They are abusive to anyone who does not share all their views, and cannot take any criticism, without some childish outburst designed to inconvenience other users and gain their “on-line personality” some attention. Some of them even like to feel the victim as it might actually get them some sympathy from another group member, in a similar way to they learned in 12 step groups. If you dare criticise, or joke about the person running the site, they really go berserk. This is despite the fact that site owner generally ignores them and dismisses their pleas for change, such as banning a “disruptive”member who does not speak in the style of the majority. There is no room for a creative individual in this environment, only drones, yet hardly anybody is excluded, which is something that is similar to an AA group. It does not make for a really friendly environment. If a stupid member does actually get banned they feel entitled to come back with another user name and carry on. they do not abide by the normal conventions of society, which is why they often fail to have many successful friendships in the real world, in the same way that active alcoholics often do as they please with little regard for their family or neighbours.

 

Another parallel is that people find it very hard to leave the group, even though they publicly recognise that being a member is actually harming them and driving them mad. Some have spent years in addiction, joined a group about addiction which is dogmatic and religious until they cannot stand it any more and then head to a new group, to lash out at methods that have not helped them,rather than realise they have taken the wrong approach and move on. They then spend their time trolling other internet groups looking for somebody to bash with their point of view. The fact that it is done as a group, makes them feel part of something. They like to think they are part of a cause, but they are not actually creating anything that will influence others. It is not as if they are writing books or making a film which points out problems in recovery groups or helps others. they are just shouting abuse and are simply dismissed as idiots by most people who come across their posts.

 

Internet trolls try to be disruptive and hurtful by using techniques like the ones here:

 

Trolls tend to incite broad arguments such as religious intolerance, with bigoted or elitist views. Some posts could be considered misogynistic in approach.

 

Trolls will post hurtful and abusive comments directed at a specific person. This is often called flaming. They do not have valid arguments, or sometimes just like being spiteful.

 

Trolls are often narcissistic  so dominate conversations and try to make themselves the centre of attention. They often make non stop comments about themselves and their accomplishments, repeated self centred statements and bragging, to try and give themselves some degree of importance in the eyes of others. Some will cut and paste articles  to try and make them sound important and well read, when in fact they often miss the point in conversation and are incapable of much creative thought.

 

Trolls will try to start many off topic threads seeking to derail users from having any focus on a web based community. They often try to disrupt other users of sites with redirects when they are unhappy.

 

The only way to really deal with trolls is to ignore them. Some people find it very hard to let a troll have the last word especially if they are showing signs of addiction towards an on line community. However this is probably the most effective technique, but one that fails in the anti AA community, as many of the people on those sites are trolls themselves, and they cannot handle a dose of their own medicine. They are the reason that a forum does not evolve into a positive environment over time. People see them, and don’t bother getting involved, having been bored or insulted by them elsewhere.

 

Another way involves good moderation where problematic users are removed one way or another.  On one forum that I was involved with, we used to mask the trolls from other users while letting them think they could still post. This used to drive them crazy, but would often be an effective way of getting them to move elsewhere. You can of course ban them, but they often see that as a challenge to get back in. There are however ways to accomplish this if you know what you are doing. It does help if the site owner regularly checks the site to prevent problems escalating.

 

You can also add an ignore user button which gives the end user a method of ignoring difficult or even boring members, that fill clog up any discussion with a load of cut and pasted, or irrelevant rubbish. I think this is a sensible option and many forums allow this.

 

It is generally up to an on line community to police themselves in a way similar to recovery groups such as AA do. This does not always prove to be effective. There are plenty of AA groups which are not well run and that have problems that would disgust many. The members behave in a different way to other members of society and are generally think of them self as a select group, while very one else despises them. The same thing happens online.

 

It is sad that the internet that is capable of really bringing people together, is often abused by people who feel they have a right to attack others. Once an on-line community goes down hill due to the poor judgement of the site owner and long term members, then it is virtually impossible to turn it around.

It is a real shame that this happens so much in the recovery community which has enough problems to deal with. It shows a complete lack of respect of others who are trying to recover and certainly does not help people make informed choices on recovery methods that will work for them. If you add in the fact that some of this trolling and arguing can be viewed as addictive then you have a real problem. The internet brought a lot of information to my attention that really helped me, and I have met some interesting people, and I think it will have a big effect on the modernisation of some areas of treatment in the future and there are some good people trying to bring people together on some big communities. it is a shame that there is also a minority who have a very negative effect on on-line communities.

Sadly is does seem that a minority of people in “recovery groups” are out to cause problems for others and I feel that years of spending huge amounts of time on some “anti” sites has contributed to their state. They do not seem to be able to take a step back from any potential confrontation, but cannot see that they are actually causing themselves a huge amount of stress, and the vast majority simply disregard anything they say.

 

A few links to people talking about internet addiction and trolls.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-03-12/news/ct-met-trolls-on-the-internet-20100303_1_trolls-internet-anonymity

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/internet_cybersex_addiction.htm

http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/netaddiction.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18785835

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/addicted-scientists-show-how-internet-dependency-alters-the-human-brain-6288344.html

http://americablog.com/2014/02/dark-psychology-internet-trolls.html

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  1. Yes, this is definitely true for me. I was very angry after leaving AA, but there was no “place” to put that anger that made any sense (they have no mechanisms for that.) I did/sometimes still do behave in a way on line that has been harmful to me and others. Thanks for the article – food for thought.

  2. I think constantly attacking something online that you do not like can actually just reinforce bad feelings and not help people to de-program. People in anti type groups often become more extreme over time, and think that their views are the norm, when in fact most people are not so affected if they simply manage to walk away from something and move on.

  3. Interesting article, thanks! I’ve subscribed to your website posts. Nice ideas in this blog. I agree.
    Welcome to Testimonials and Patient Success Stories for Dr. Dalal Akoury. Patients improving from an integrative, functional, regenerative approach, call 843-213-1480
    Addiction recovery

  4. Internet addiction does exist. Many will think it’s a healthy and cost free experience. It ruined my mental health and has caused me many unhappy hours searching for friends or possible partners. It’s basically a alter-ego that isn’t recognized.

    • I think it is a real problem, and people do shift from one addiction to another, especially if they do not have other more positive activities to do. There are certainly ex drug and alcohol addicts who spend a huge amount of time on stupid websites as part of a dysfunctional community, and seem to be obsessed with it.

  5. Internet addiction does exist. Many will think it’s a healthy and cost free experience. It ruined my mental health and has caused me many unhappy hours searching for friends or possible partners. It’s basically a alter-ego that isn’t recognized.

  6. I can see from my stats that a lot of people have been reading this post from women for sobriety over the last few days. This is quite an old post and reflected some issues I was having here at the time. I know other people have had problems of this type as well who run wordpress blogs on recovery. It is not helped when certain people set up forums and cannot be bothered to moderate them effectively and allow arguing to take over from any debate. this arguments tend to spread to other sites and the same few people are generally responsible.

    If you do have a troll type situation it is best to simply ignore them. Thankfully the people that are responsible for the fix which has had some really dreadful comment pages, have decided to clean them up at last, but the people responsible will probably look for another site to attack people on. I was actually suprised to find out that most of these people are actually middle aged, rather than immature youngsters and they are often delusional and think they are fighting a cause. They are often very sad loners with no social skills. Some have never even been to AA etc but just get caught up in online arguments bashing it.

    I am not a member of women for sobriety as I am not a women, so cannot see what is going on, but I hope that things turn out ok for you all!

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