What follows is based on an imaginative reading of the behaviour of two of the most irritating repeat offenders on MUA’s skincare and green boards. Pure conjecture, may contain fiction, is about online personae. A fiction about a fiction, a meta-fiction. But may also have some fabulous truth. Constructing hypotheses for background, behaviour, environmental links and triggers for certain kinds of female trolling.
It’s not necessarily of any use to anyone. Or even true. Its sole intended purpose it to provide some consolation for anyone who’s witnessed or been a victim of trolling and other cyberbullying. May it give you strength. And maybe a chuckle.
The first virtual Sticky I made read:
insecurity–loneliness–spoiled–“spoiled pretty”–pressure, stress at home–“because I’m worth it”–entitled
Bear in mind, throughout, the facts of both cases.
Case #1 (MUA skincare board) is about 30 (allegedly) and lives with her parents. Occupation uncertain. Urban environment. California? Protected, immature, spoiled. Note, though, that the same MUA-identity has claimed other back-stories, which make her out to be older; male; plus other personae. Who knows. Remember: it’s all fiction anyway. That having been said: the mind behind “aurevoirlesenfants” is a sick one; shows signs of internet-dependence; and will, I’m fairly sure, be a repeat-offending troll, back soon (already?) in a new incarnation. I have humungous trepidation about discussing this individual, as all signs point in a pathological direction. Maybe psychopathic. If this is a fictional creation, it’s definitely got its points. If we’re seeing glimmers (or more) of the real mind behind the online façade, I would be–not scared–but apprehensive, wary, on my guard, and guarded. I would like to feel pity and compassion, and at least try to understand: as far as I am able. I’ve never been a fan of locking folks up and throwing away the key, let alone capital punishment. But I’m aware that there are limits: to dealing with some conditions and cases, just as there are limits to my own capacity to deal with them in lit crit and in a basic human kinda way.
Case #2 (Green board, also heavy big into fragrance) lives out in the sticks/wilds, probably (though not certain) with family; bored and frustrated with existence. Profile recently “moved” from Llanelli, Wales ( post-mining/industrial slumpsville near Swansea; twinned with Agen–famous, appropriately enough, for its prunes; nickname “Tinopolis”) to “Necropolis, UK.” Gets angry. Easily confused. Receives misinformation, doesn’t digest it properly, regurgitates, stubbornly sticks to guns in spite of all fact/sanity/truth to the contrary. Mistress of illogic and irrationalism, which she’ll pass off as a wacky, sophisticated, exotic, exclusive sense of humour. Sometimes does produce some marvellous bits of surrealist hyperbole (though not up the standards of, say, Hyperbole and a Half). Crazy passionate vicious violent fighter. I like to imagine she is atually from that part of Wales, which is famous for its rugby-players and boxers.
CASE-STUDY EVIDENCE: WHEN TO KNOW IT’S TIME TO STOP
Case #1: a regular MUA troll, one of the most poisonous:
goes by a recent incarnation went by “aurevoirlesenfants” [Ed.–acount deleted by MUA admin 2011-08-23.]
Some classic activity patterns:
2011/08/19, return from vacation. Starts posting on café at 10:29PM, continues until 4:06AM: that’s over five hours, and lots of posts: about 12 pages, @ 15/p, that’s about 180 … Continues to do so, constantly, inc:
- 2:17-3:02AM: TMI and back-story that could be T or F: three threads–2:17-2:19AM; 2:43-2:53AM; 2:52-3:02AM
- 3:11: sets up poll on what people are reading at the moment. Not an unmitigated success. We observe a love of the Millenium Trilogy:
- 3:13-3:55AM: 50-odd on two poll-posts: books or series read, name a classic/cult movie +respond if seen. Obsessive rapid-clicking on this post: search for meaning, identity, validation by others? competitive? Inc. having the last word on that second post.
- 3:51AM: has to have last word on “who is taller, you or your mom?”
Meanwhile over on the Skin Care Board:
- 11:21PM-4:06AM: responds to beeb11 comment on sunscreen from 11:06 (might be her too, or plant, or crony… who knows; who cares? nutjobs all, anyway). Might be tagging and stalking the phrase “coppertone sunscreen.”
- 11:22PM-12:31AM: starts thread on ZnO being evil; rapidly joined by beeb11, gabilan (new), and voguegrl: the gang’s back together? I butt in and disrupt, in positive direction (see below for why…).
- 2:28AM: jumps on thread tag-teaming “jetfan” + “mineral oil.”
GENERAL NOTES ON INTERPRETATION
- Toddler in tiara.
- Control freak, OCD, ADD, 3-second memory except for slights and vendettas. Has to have first and last word.
- Online fictions, online fictionality, self-fiction
- Which translates into moral irresponsibility, incapacity on real/not, inability to deal with consequences.
- Multiple personality disorder:
Has been known to change persona and develop multiple online personalities–not what, errm, a healthy normal online person does: having multiple names, which might be attached to different interests, keeping certain aspects of real life quiet or anonymous; but same basic character expressed, same writing style, same sorts of ideas and way one ticks, indeed same ticks and characteristics.
- Has been known to have and deploy “sock-puppets.” By which I mean other personae and cronies. The two are indistinguishable especially if only popping up when Principal Player enters the stage. I can’t get the comic image out of my head: picturing someone online typing with finger-puppets, a different one on each finger, typing one-fingered. And no, a ten-voice choral piece this ain’t (see: earlier post with finger-puppets). This might count as MPD, might count as manipulation and grooming.
- Multiple personalities combined with disjunct with reality, and with normal human behaviour and rules of conduct:
There may be a reason she’s living at home with her parents at her age. Same goes for many more classic trolls–teenage boys at home is one thing, but 30-something and 40-something males…
- Quibbles: to feel sorry? pity? Given conflict (from other behaviour) with disgust, shock, horror, and some fear and loathing. This is the kind of thing that monsters and psychos do. And there are limits to reasoning with the irrational, unreasoning, and a~/immoral.
- WTF. Publish and be damned. Creating a historical record and hoping to console someone out there–let alone increase the sum of human happiness–is more important than my own virtual skin.
- But but but: This is all a fiction, anyway …
A SPECIAL OCCASION
Aside from usual obnoxious bratty behaviour: earlier–some weeks back–posted photographs of another MUAer on the BB discussion board, for bashing.
The other MUAer had committed the dread offence of siding with someone else–not just “2nd”-ing but adding arguments to a discussion on the skincare board. This was part of the Silly Season, a.k.a. the Great MO vs. CDLM War. She had also–separate and unrelated–posted pictures on/in her profile: the better to explain her skin issues, and to see when skin experiments were working.
Now, posting such images is also very useful to others, who may recognize that they have, or have had, the same symptoms. All the more useful as most images in medical sources–online, textbooks, manuals–show extreme versions of conditions: it’s a valuable resource to see images of differing degrees, and combinations with other factors. Real live rather than textbook situations, if you will. Treating oneself as a useful objective reaource for others. And that’s hard: it’s treating oneself as an object, deliberately, and when one is feeling in a slightly fragile state due to said skin issues.
I should add here, for the record, that the skin, face, and pictures were nothing objectionable or exceptional, and certainly not dire. Any sensible, reasonable–I’m hesitating to say “normal”–any non-fucked-up person with eyes in their head can see that this is a nice-looking, pretty face, with pleasant facial expressions; looks friendly–I guess matching her words and board-deeds.
Copying and pasting these images on other sites for the sole purpose of mockery is clearly wrong. Saving them on your computer for future abuse, and threatening to continue posting them far and wide, compunds the wrongdoing. The reposting has continued. Making regular reappearances: though now bashed on BB for being boring lame repetitions. Thumbs up to BB on that one.
BEING AND NOTHINGNESS, BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL, ETC.
It does make one wonder and ponder if the term “evil” might be appropriate in this situation. Cruel, heartless, barbaric, inhuman: sure. Immoral or amoral: don’t know. But evil–I tend not to use it too lightly, saving it for actual Nazis, crimes against humanity, genocide.
Known previous anti-anti-Nazism and nazi-supporting nutjobbery. Goes by aurevoirlesenfants. The choice of moniker is revealing: pretension, search for approval, delusions of grandeur (oooh, lookee, it’s French! big-name director!). A film about betrayal, innocence lost, duplicity, two-faced-ness, and with an unreliable (and manipulative and deceitful) point of view and principal protagonist.
Re. self-identification with specific characters: possible multiple-personality already in evidence here–whether intentionally/knowingly or not, may have seen one more subtle angle in/on ARLE: a 3-in-1 central figure.
More likely: sees self as either Jean (and innocent victim) or Julien (innocence lost, grand theme of great friendships: he’s more likely). Given some of the smartness involved, our troll might have gone a step further and see herself as Julien (betrayer, and not a simple innocent). Or she might indeed see herself in/as the movie as a whole: deceit, manipulation, betrayal, problematic past hstory, revisionism and rewriting and re-remembering, moral complexity read as relativism. Would tie in with observed problems with truth and morality.
- I thought I’d try the tack of seeing if rewarding good behaviour worked–in case the main thing that’s wrong is that s/he’s lonely and insecure, and this is a cry for help. We’ve all seen what happens when bad behaviour is punished.
But: I do think that silence really is the best policy. I’m not convinced that sympathy is in order; and as I’m not a shrink, let alone *her* shrink/caseworked, I’m not competent to judge what the best approach would be. I do think that, whatever else is going on there, this individual is sick. In more ways than one.
- Attention-seeking = treat like toddler doing the same. Ignore.
- Suggestion for better and more appropriate handle: “Lacombe Lucien(ne)”
- Treat as one does poisonous creatures in the wild. Keep a safe distance. Do not approach. Avoid if possible.
Case #2: a favourite pet, the resident MUA green board troll, “xxxspell.”
A highly probably suspect in a different kind of abusive behaviour, which involved serious bashing on MUA boards (skincare and green) and harrassing personal messages.
Possibly one member of a consortium, possibly one person with several personae. The comments in the public forum were nasty, and I gather the private ones even more so. (Note to anyone being trolled in this way: take screenshots in case the troll returns to edit their messages, and retain all correspondence. It’s evidence. This may be “just the internet,” but there are laws here too.) The result was goading long-standing individuals into disappearing from the discussion boards, or into committing more dramatic and public MUA-suicide.
The homophobic insults alone constitute hate-crime in many jurisdictions. As with case #1, there was deliberation, intent, malice, vindictiveness, stalking, and a lengthy campaign of intimidation, cruelty, and sheer viciousness.
You’ve already seen some instances here of this behaviour, which has unfortunately become one of the Trends to Spot on the MUA boards. There will be posts in the first week of September with archived footage of some key moments in the Great Green Trolling Campaign.
I repeat and emphasize: Neither case is excusable.
This present post is not about excusing this sort of behaviour.
Nor is it advocating “forgive and forget.”
That is not possible in these two cases.
But it is a plea for understanding, as far as humanly possible; these people are sick and need help. Medical, therapeutic, counselling–but whatever else is going on, however basically mean-spirited they might or might not be (I don’t know–I don’t know them)–they’re sick. Suffering. Suffering the more as they are unaware of or blocking any kind of self-awareness, any critical judgement.
Now: on BB and MUA, with certain people–bashers, trolls, disgruntled borderline-trolls–we see an emphasis being placed on judging and value, and another on (crass misunderstandings of) “sarcasm” and “irony.” True irony is impossible–by definition, c/o the εἴρων–without self-deprecation; it in turn requires a self-critical eye directed inwards.
Other common themes: games, power-games, obsession with power and control. Noticeably different for another group of BB regulars who are libertarian anti-control, anti-rules trolls. Sometimes these groups, and their interests, intersect. All utterances are “opinion,” all opinions are equally valid / have equal value, and there is no such thing as absolute truth. And no such thing as knowledge.
This isn’t a drive towards a lack of authority as in anarchy: for anarchy involves work, responsibility, mutual aid, care, and is much harder and more grown-up than any other political system.
Nope. It’s about thwarted will to power. If I can’t rule, then no-one should. Hence destructive behaviour. This is board/forum nihilism. Envy, gnawing resentment, rotted to the core.
Coupled with entitlement and arrogance.
ὕβρις, or ad + rogere: to ask for / demand more than that to which one has a right. Laying claim to something to which you’re not entitled. In this case, it’s “title,” directly: bitching about the person who founded and runs MUA, and the same for BB; about those in the position of being moderators; members who have flagging rights on MUA; and those who have been granted some sort of respect.
That respect is earned through work, working for other people: reviews, board posts, swap-worthiness, being a good correspondent. But none of that is comprehensible to our trolls: because of that whole pseudo-equality misunderstanding, because they don’t understand what “knowledge” and “respect” are.
They’re confused, and angry. And no wonder.
Add to the profile:
I blame the parents. For screwing a kid up for life.
I say “kid”: they’re between mid-teens and at least mid-thirties. Some trolls of this ilk are spoiled coddled brats who “grew up” into marrying well; swapping one paterfamilias for another, the good old-fashioned way. Think of everything loathesome, despicable, and repulsive about Goop and Martha Stewart. I mean, come on: “The Living Omnedia?” That’s the ideal, though… Our trolls may be actively, consciously antifeminists; they may just be anti-feminist, as feminists stand for everything they’re not, especially that whole patriarchy-business. Comforting though it may be… after all, that’s where your Crème de la Mer comes from, and that’s what your CDLM represents: be that Daddy or Sugar Daddy, you’re still Daddy’s Little Girl.
And wrecking a kid by combining the mutually exclusive:
- you are our offspring, you are ours, we will impose our dreams and fantasies and ambitions on you and live them through you.
- you are ours, therefore you are a special precious flower: wonderful, bright, beautiful, and the best thing ever. You can do no ill, everything you do is brilliant. And don’t let anyone say different, because if they do, they’re wrong.
- you need to be the best. Because we need to be the best. If you’re not the best, that reflects badly on us, and because of no. 2 above, you’re deliberately undermining all our great plans for you (see no. 1). You need to try harder, do better. Cue further Tiger Mom stuff, ad lib. For you must excell and be top and beat everyone else.
I used “game” before; that’s wrong–the elements of skill, creativity, and luck are all wrong. It’s a sport. Discussion-boards, life, everything. It’s about competing. Playing to win. And it’s war: conquest, territory, expansion, and other penis-enlargement (cue spam…). In both cases: the end justifies the means. People get hurt? Collateral damage. Doesn’t matter: all that matters is winning. Progress is all. The same stupid business-world mentality that’s destroying countries, communities, continents, culture, civilization, not to mention that whole environment and planet stuff.
Finally: I blame L’Oréal. Via the double sense of “worth”: the more I pay, the more valuable I am:
- valueable = worthwhile = worthy
- and this makes me a good person.
It’s a matter of substitution: products and brand-allegiances filling a gap. A gap that one might otherwise expect to be filled with ideas, opinions, memories, stuff you learned; information, information transformed into knowledge, actual content; esprit: wits, mind, soul. Our classic lady-troll lacks all these things, but is not empty-headed, because her head has been filled with other stuff
It’s also a deeper sense of the “I’m / you’re / we’re” in that slogan. My products aren’t just a substitute; buying products, a replacement and displacement-activity for having actual content onself. My products are me. I am my products. Liberty from control and influence, from external forces, from nature and nurture. Self-determination. In the illusion of freedom that is market-economic consumerism, I am perfectly free to be whatever I want. It’s a matter of being and existence; an existential/~ist “I’m worth it.”
I’ve said it before. I’m saying it again:
DIALECTICAL PSEUDO-PROGRESSION DOES NOT RULE OKAY.
IT’S A TOOL OF THE PATRIARCHAL OPPRESSION
But: while there’s life, there’s hope. It’s never too late or impossible to change. Trollettes: throw off your chains! Building anarcha-feminist rhizomally-networked collectives is an alternative.
IT’S NOT ABOUT POWER.
IT’S NOT ABOUT GETTING TO THE TOP OF THE HIERARCHY.
IT’S NOT ABOUT LORDING IT OVER OTHERS.
IT’S NOT ABOUT AUTHORITY: HAVING IT, BEING ONE, BEING IT.
Image at top: from “What kind of anarchist are you?” at Quizfarm