Cyberbullying in an online chat group

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FugitiveDaughter

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Cyberbullying in an online chat group
« on: July 22, 2021, 09:12:30 AM »
Have any of you experienced straight up cyberbullying on some online discussion forum?

I have before, didn't recognise it as such for a long time when I was participating on a discussion forum, a message board, years ago. I did notice then that any opinions that differed from the mainstream on that forum and especially any views expressed that went against a certain few were brutally struck down. I also noticed many, if not most of the members on that forum were sort of strange and expressed pretty bizarre behaviour also in their private lives. We all shared one common thing which is why I originally joined the forum, a common interest. As it was still pleasant to chat with them about less inflammatory topics such as everyday life (or so I thought) and they gave me a window into the lives of people perhaps a bit different than me, I stayed but stopped commenting on issues that I knew they'd attack me for. As things were pretty calm, I thought people accepted me and we were doing ok. I did post a bit less frequent and mostly just read the board.

I stayed away from that forum for several years and after I started to feel lonely during lockdown, decided to see if the people were still there talking. I guess I was curious to see how they were doing now and perhaps we could still chat a bit, no hard feelings, no arguing etc. They had moved on to another platform, to an online chat server where you can write in real time. Ok, so I joined in and after a few weeks, when I dared to express a differing view on something, the bullying restarted. I do express my views in a bit self-confident way meaning I'm not apologizing for my views (while at the same time not having any airs or attitudes with the way I write, it's just an opinion, I don't feel in any way that I'm necessarily right and certainly not superior to others) and try to remain neutral as in not bring my emotional side to discussions at all. I also make sure I have some reasoning to back up these views. However, this was not adequate for a few, pretty aggressive and rude posters who have given me grief before. I know exactly why they attack me, my views differ from theirs and they are also very annoyed by the fact that I have traveled a lot and lived in different places. Anyway, instead of us having a discussion admitting where someone has a point, and I have no trouble admitting I might be wrong at some things and try to see their views too, they completely stone-walled me and started to attack my character, style of writing and basically started to accuse me of making everyone on the group feel bad.

Over the months this has happened a couple of times after which I've usually decided not to participate in anything inflammatory so it's back to talking about the weather, what someone had found in the shops etc. I know it's better to back away when people start yelling at you like that. Even if I've felt tempted to point out to them their gaslighting and how they accuse me of things they do (ignoring all reasoning the opposing commenter has, using aggressive tones, acting superior, victimising themselves because of the way a simple sarcastic jab has hurt them), I've stayed calm and not retorted to the same mud slinging. Yesterday was the lowest blow ever though.

The conversation was innocent enough at first, dealing with things happening in the world but quickly escalated from their side into badmouthing a famous person without any real reasoning. From what I can figure out myself, the person does not deserve that hate, it's very irrational. It got to a point where it reached surreal levels and I just couldn't take it quietly. I pointed out how wrong it was to accuse someone they actually do not know at all without basis and asked if they had some real evidence to back up their claims and views. They failed to provide any, instead of getting more and more agitated with their feelings of hate and envy. Meanwhile I gave them ample evidence that their accusations weren't really based on anything but a vague feeling they had. Sort of "I don't like that person's face or the fact the person has a bigger house than me". The worst though was that one of these people who I now suspect might have NPD (there are two of three such people there), suggested she would be more than happy to discuss my person and behaviour on a separate section. Soon, such topic popped up and after about two to five people came on each writing a lengthy piece each detailing what a terrible person I am incapable of taking in "constructive criticism", others joined in. Not one neutral or even mildly positive thing in there, not one person to stay neutral or defend me. It was like I was on trial, "defend yourself!" The accusations were so incredible, from how I had made everyone feel bad with the way I wrote  and mind you, we're mostly talking about normal stuff like weather and everyday life here, to how I supposedly acted superior to all other conversationalists. This went on for about an hour or two at first, me trying to stay calm while being pelted with accusations that even went into my character, but I got such a terrible headache and my husband told me that these people are indeed insane that I excused myself and stopped responding.

After I left, the virtual stoning went on for eight hours. I was quite frankly scared one or two of these people might try to harm me in real life so scared that they'd try to figure out my identity, I later removed all my messages from that server. After that, today the raging has continued with this group of NPDs and their lackeys continuing to badmouth me and how I wasn't there to continue. They actually expected me to return to their trial to be abused again! They also expected me to give out written examples of their bad behaviour and I know all these examples which I had no energy to start digging would have been explained away as many of the cruel tones they use are very stealthy. They all claimed that differing opinions are welcomed and make a conversation so much better but from what I can see, their view on great conversation is everyone agreeing. On that discussion that they got so angry at me, they are now all happy having reached a mutual agreement on everything.

This is not even the first time this happens, I have seen them smoke out people who had differing views before. Each of these people in their opinion had character faults, didn't know how to converse and write and in general were immature and condescending. I pointed out to them before I left that they were bullies, maybe in real life too and that gathering the whole community to beat one person was not only extremely cruel but also not constructive and downright evil. It didn't work. I messaged the admin privately but the admin both did not want to deal with it and stay neutral and at the same time sided with the bullies because I know they have met in real life and like everyone else, are perhaps scared of the wrath of the bullies. The bullies themselves very nobly urged anyone disagreeing with them to come forward. Not surprised no-one did.

I feel they did manage to mess with my head. I started to wonder if I really am all these things they accuse and asked my husband too. He said it is clear these people are malignant and not all there. My only crime was to have my own opinions and dare to stand up to them. I'm not sure if I should comment on their behaviour somehow or do something about it but I feel it's of no use. I'm pretty bummed out that even people who have acted all nice, liking my comments and having pleasant conversation with me, came out claiming they too had always hated my writing, had muted me, didn't read what I wrote no matter what it was whenever they saw it was me writing, generally just claiming that yes, I was the big bad wolf there and everyone just wished I left the whole place (after I first returned to some more flogging that is) and "suggested how to move on from this" as this will happen again and again because of my "unwillingness to change".

Am I going nuts? Close friends and DH say no, I'm not a psycho myself as they are starting to make me question my sanity. Why did I stay there for so long? Why do I keep on letting people like that use me again and again? I don't know. All I wanted was a window to the world in these lockdowns but that's not what I got. Sorry for the extremely long and probably incoherent post, I'm still struggling with all this.

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Hazy111

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Re: Cyberbullying in an online chat group
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2021, 09:15:45 AM »
I read once that online chatrooms attract more than their fair share of PDs . They like the anonymity it provides, much like social media.

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FugitiveDaughter

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Re: Cyberbullying in an online chat group
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2021, 10:12:39 AM »
I think you're right. It's an easy way for them to get their supply.

I know that post I wrote was long and tedious, there just wasn't a short way to describe the whole thing. The more I think about it, the more I can pinpoint two people who exhibited particulary PD behaviour. Both loved to show off selfies and posed photos of themselves, brag about dinners, expensive lifestyle and yet revealed quite a lot about dysfunctional relationships and pretty much bullying behaviour reporting their colleagues and even people that weren't their direct colleagues to their bosses. I'd love to tell you what these people did for a living but I won't. It would scare you to death to know they probably abuse people daily in their work. I'm just going to say people like that should never work with people but they do and it explains a lot.

I want to get rid of this tendency to run into these monsters. I've not only had experience with them at home but also at work and free time as well as these types of people seem to love social media and getting into all sorts of activity groups. And time and time again you kick yourself for falling into the same old plot and mistaking them for people who you can get along with.

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1footouttadefog

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Re: Cyberbullying in an online chat group
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2021, 10:51:52 AM »
 CHat rooms and forums can easily become vicious clicks.

I like to browse to well known news dis ussiin forums.  They are highly partisan at extreme ends of the political spectrum.

I pop in occasionally to see what headlines have folks worked up
  In this way I encounter subjects that would not otherwise be in my radar and find trends etc.  I don't participate in the ci versations and rarely read them behong the post sublets and to see what original article or website is involved.


I have read occasionally and always come away shocked that both sides accuse each other of the same things using the same buzzwords.

They are both like mean girl gangs in a Jr high.

I used to post in a lyfestyle related forum.  It was great for like a decade then certain types of folks started posting and quickly became a reinforced  majority.

Moderation is key.  OOTF has very good moderation.

I hope you can find some more positive ways to engage online.  I found a couple of meetings in zello app where everyone is very polite and the hosts include everyone in the conversations etc.  It's a very eclectic group but I enjoy seeing such a diverse group engaging so politely

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Andeza

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Re: Cyberbullying in an online chat group
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2021, 11:56:15 AM »
1foot is right, moderation is key. I used to be a member of an interest based forum, then ended up a section moderator for about a year. I had the actual interest of the forum, the subject that brought us all there, and it was chill. Others, not so. I stayed out of certain sections altogether.

You have encountered what my husband and I refer to as the "Mind sickness." This strange pervading hate that individuals feed on and turn back to over and over in order to work themselves up into a proper froth. It does not care whether people are mentally ill, disordered, politically polarized, or otherwise. It consumes. It is terrifying, and it is becoming more common. I see it online, I see it in road rage, I see it in the mall when people don't get their way...

Let us all take care, and be aware. Anger is a powerful tool to be used at appropriate times in appropriate ways. It is not supposed to be an addiction that rules us. Those that carry it as an addiction can be unpredictable, and yes, even dangerous. Just like any addiction, it destroys.

Be safe, be aware, but not fearful.
Remember, that there are no real deadlines for life, just society's pressures.      - Anonymous
Lasting happiness is not something we find, but rather something we make for ourselves.

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FugitiveDaughter

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Re: Cyberbullying in an online chat group
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2021, 01:03:17 PM »
Can you believe it?  They are trying to get me back to be beaten some more! The admin contacted me so I would return as "everyone" is perplexed. They kicked me out but left me a spot right there in the corner of their chat group, benevolent as they are, so I could come back and "express my views". I have privately discussed this situation with a few friendly faces there and they said no-one dares to disagree at this point. At this point I feel the Ns are pressuring quiet ones to write there and continue the bullying. This torture must and will end so I don't see a reason to go back there. What good would it do? They want the pleasure of being able to finish the job. I am denying them the pleasure and choosing to move on with my life and stay away from places like that.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2021, 01:04:49 PM by FugitiveDaughter »

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Andeza

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Re: Cyberbullying in an online chat group
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2021, 01:15:17 PM »
Frankly, a good choice in my opinion. We had a saying back in the day. "Don't feed the trolls." I'm grateful, we don't really have trolls on OotF, and when they do show up they frequently put their foot in it and get banned rather quickly. Many thanks to the admins!
Remember, that there are no real deadlines for life, just society's pressures.      - Anonymous
Lasting happiness is not something we find, but rather something we make for ourselves.

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moglow

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Re: Cyberbullying in an online chat group
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2021, 02:20:14 PM »
Thx, Andeza! It's a challenge at times here - we're all volunteers with jobs, families, lives all over the world. It truly takes a village and that's why we encourage members to make use of the handy dandy "report to moderator" button at the bottom of every post. We're all over reading and participating most days but we can't see all and want to nip foolishment in the bud asap so people can do what they came here for.

Fugitive, I've also been subject to some of what you describe and it can be painful. It's amazing what armchair warriors will do and say, not knowing who we really are. We've actually had a few disgruntled former members form boards over the years. They'd blast us/OotF staff to kingdom come for (gasp!!) daring to insist that they post within our guidelines. They take it personally rather than seeing it's all for one and one for all here - we all play by those same rule!

I have myself been warned, and ya know what? I learned. I stepped back and realized the impact words can have on others, and I reconsidered mine. I thought about how painful it's been having mother talk to me the way she has all my life. Enough of it and we believe those things -  worse, we might pass it on to others as those armchair warriors have done to you.

Find your people, is what I'm saying. Everyone won't be and you don't have to be a punching bag to belong. If that's who they are and what they choose, so be it. You still don't have to play that game. Be good to yourself and the rest will follow, I promise you
 
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