As outlined in my previous post on freedom of speech, one of the tactics often used by others to prevent one from sharing his or her viewpoint is the use of name calling. Today I was called a "troll" at a badchristian blog by Bob from I am a Christian Too. Oh, excuse me, I wasn't actually called a troll but Bob called into question whether I am or not and made the claim that I display characteristics of a troll. Bob's blog was the first "Progressive" Christian blog that I visited when I first began to visit them. Bob and I got crosswise more than once on his blog. Following is what Bob said at a badchristian blog:
"Jacke - I say this with Christian love in my heart, but you display a lot of the behaviors of a troll. I’m not saying that you do this deliberately or consciously, but the effect is the same. You like to attack others aggressively, but in such a way that you can represent yourself as the victim. When they respond aggressively in return, you then feign innocence and make nice. And eventually start the cycle over. I wonder what satisfaction you get out of repeating this pattern."
I, likewise, have Christian love in my heart for Bob, even though we have gotten crosswise in the past. As I said on Zalm's blog, From the Salmon under the topic of Conversation Peace: How?, back on February 19th, before this latest episode between Brandon and I (and Greg was responding to Brandon in his reply, by the way):
Jacke Says: February 19th, 2006 at 3:47 pm
"Not to sound like a saint or anything (because I’m really not - just ask my wife), but what exactly are you trying to win? Are you trying to get your “opponent” to change their mind and agree with your view? See my second paragraph above - they are exactly as likely to do this as you are, and that is not at all. It seems to me that a good dialogue is an opportunity for one to reexamine the basis of ones own beliefs, and perhaps to gain some new perspectives on an issue. New perspectives will, over time, perhaps cause subtle (or not so subtle) shifts in your beliefs, but the process is quite slow. In any event, that is (or should be imo) the goal of a dialogue - to either solidify, expand, or alter (for the better) ones own beliefs. It is those new perspectives that one should be trying to win. Presumably the person with whom you are engaged in dialogue is trying to do the same thing, and so you are not only working on your own beliefs, but assisting them in working on theirs. If everyone engaged in a dialogue approaches it with this attitude, then they all win. Even if your “opponent” does not have this attitude you can still win, since the person that you are trying to change is you. (end of Greg's comment)
(beginning of my reply)
"I love this and it is spot on, Greg. I have a sneaking suspicion that Brandon and I are very much alike in our personalities even though we have very different views in a myriad of areas. I kind of like that and I also recognize that that is the very reason that Brandon and I often clash. At the end of the day, I like Brandon, as a matter of fact, I like Brandon VERY much. He makes me think, many of you make me think. I would never dream that anyone would be that interested but I have come a long way since I began visiting Progressive Christian blogs with a huge chip on my shoulder. If any of you endeavored to read the evolution of my blog with an open mind, you might realize the softening of my views. I like this community, do I get frustrated at times, OH YEAAAAAH! I have been wrestling with how I want to approach giving an explanation of why I believe GW will be viewed as one of the greatest Presidents of our time for about two weeks. There are about a dozen directions I could go on that topic, which one do I take? I really don’t want to write a book about it and don’t know exactly how to approach it without doing just that. In the end I have decided I’m taking it far too seriously. I’m trying to take a little pressure off myself in the area of believing that I have to satisfy everyone with an answer to every single question asked of me. It’s difficult to keep up. I still intend to answer that question and feel that my integrity has been brought into question by not answering it but it is such a complicated question!
Anyway, I like the idea that I can say what I want to say and still care about each and every one of you…isn’t that what sisters and brothers do? Fuss and fight, scream and yell and then forget all about it the next day? That’s how I view all of you, like brothers and sisters and I make every effort not to hold grudges, I only hope that you view me the same way, not as an enemy or an opponent but as a sister.""
As I said, I wrote that prior to this latest blow up between Brandon and I. No one ever responded to it, perhaps no one read it, perhaps Brandon never read it, perhaps everyone read it and just doesn't care, who knows?
The charge of being a troll, in my opinion, is a serious one and it is one that I feel is unwarranted and therefore I have to question the motives of a person who would make an effort to smear me in such a way. Let's take a look at what the link provided by Bob has to say about trolls:
"In Internet terminology, a troll is a person who posts rude or offensive messages on the Internet, such as on online discussion forums, to disrupt discussion or to upset its participants. "Troll" can also mean the message itself or be a verb meaning to post such messages. "Trolling" is also commonly used to describe the activity."
Well, it certainly has been some people's opinion that I have made rude or offensive comments at blogs, Brandon's and Bob's particularly, of course there are plenty of people who make rude and offensive comments at blogs but no one ever calls them a troll, so what is the line between a person who wants to communicate their thoughts in often heated debate on blogs and a troll? Well, let's look farther at what can be found from Bob's link:
"For many people, the characterising feature of trolling is the perception of intent to disrupt a community in some way. Inflammatory, sarcastic, disruptive or humorous content is posted, meant to draw other users into engaging the troll in a fruitless confrontation. The greater the reaction from the community the more likely the user is to troll again, as the person develops beliefs that certain actions achieve his/her goal to cause chaos. This gives rise to the often repeated protocol in Internet culture: "Do not feed the trolls"." (emphasis mine.)
Already we have a bit of a problem, since I am no longer commenting on Brandon's blog, therefore it cannot be said that "the greater the reaction from the community the more likely the user is to troll again," in my case, I bowed out of commenting any further on Brandon's blog, actually in an effort to show my respect for him because I no longer felt my comments were appreciated, this seems to be the exact opposite of what a troll would do. Also, yesterday, in an effort to restore peace, I removed any mention of Brandon from my blog entry on Freedom of Speech and made it quite generic, this was done prior to Bob's accusations of me trying to cause chaos and done by my choice because I wanted to put Brandon's feelings before mine because I felt it was the "Christian" thing to do. Continuing with Bob's link on trolls:
"Often, a person will post a sincere message about which he is emotionally sensitive. Skillful trolls know that an easy way to upset him is to disingenuously claim that he is a "troll". On other occasions, a person may not instantly understand, or fit into the social norms of a forum where most users have similar characteristics. As a result, his acting just slightly out of the norm (often unintentionally, and for legitimate reasons) garners him the label "troll". It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between a user who merely has different values, views or ideas, and a user who is intentionally trolling; unfortunately, many users react aggressively on a first impression to a perceived troll, which sometimes leads disgruntled newbies or political minorities to be perceived trolls."
I believe that Bob is "reacting aggressively on a first impression to" me, perceiving me as a troll. But that's okay, we all make mistakes. It is a risk I take when I try to converse with large communities of "Progressive" Christians who have different views from my own.
Everyone is quite capable of discerning for themselves whether I am a "troll" or not.