By Dr. Thomas R. Horn
Charisma News recently posted a clip from the Jim Bakker Show in which Lori Bakker, Jim’s wife, was reading this selection from Galatians 5, verses 22–26:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
The important point the Bakker’s made from this text involved how God hates it when discord is sewn among the brethren. The timely comments by the Bakkers reminded me of something I’ve intended to write about for a while—narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic, and sadistic individuals we call “Internet trolls” who actually enjoy sewing discord and polarizing people, especially among Christians.
And when I say enjoy, I mean that in the crudest, most sexual way possible; that these sick-minded individuals get “turned on” in demonic and twisted ways while trolling.
But don’t take my word for it.
Not long ago, Psychology Today highlighted a study that actually confirmed what many of us have sensed for a while: Internet trolls are not just horrible misanthropes; they’re mentally deranged in the vilest ways.
“Let’s start by getting our definitions straight,” professor Jennifer Golbeck wrote. “An Internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation. Often, in fact, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved. Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response.”[i]
The research Golbeck quotes from was conducted by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba and his colleagues. Titled “Personality and Individual Differences—The Dark Triad of Personality,” it was published in the journal ScienceDirect.[ii] The material investigates whether there is a direct link between so-called Internet trolling and personality traits defined by a Dark Tetrad: Machiavellianism (willingness to employ cunning and duplicity to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and excessive or erotic interest in oneself over others), psychopathy (enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and disinhibited behavior), and sadism (the tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others).
Of the wickedest findings made by the researchers is how sadism turns out to be the strongest admitted characteristic of Internet trolls and that such persons do indeed find regular sexual fulfillment in tormenting others.
Keep that in mind the next time you sacrifice energy trying to pacify a troll. It’s very possible you’ll be having unintended, one-way sex chat with a creep!
Of course, it’s not just laypeople whose social media is regularly infested with rampant incivility and ad hominem attacks by trolls. Businesses and ministries have likewise wasted enormous time and resources swatting at Baalzebub’s flies as they hatch their vitriolic eggs. To deal with the growing problem, the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Beast, Popular Science, Vice Media’s Motherboard, The Verge and others have gone so far recently as to shut off their online comment sections altogether.
Good for them.
In fact, it may be time for all of us to return to the old fashioned “letters to the editor” method for interacting with public commentary. This is where staff members screen submissions, keep and publish the good, and “round file” (verb: “to throw in the garbage”) time-wasting materials before anybody of importance ever has a chance to see them.
For the last few years, that’s exactly what we’ve done at Defender Publishing and SkyWatch TV. Ask anybody that works in this ministry and they’ll tell you how my method for dealing with trolls is lovingly referred to as “BLOCK, FILTER, DELETE!” This system accomplishes the following:
- First, we block the individual from making additional comments in the future;
- Second, we place their email (if that is how the message was sent) in the Spam Filter so that we will never know if they continue sending comments;
- Third, we delete whatever drool they’ve attempted to leave on our message boards and social media sites. If they’re on our email list, we delete them from that as well.
We never read or respond to anything once it’s obvious we are dealing with a troll.
I’ve recommended the same process to other large ministries, which followed suit and later thanked me. Basically, my advice to all who will listen is simple: DON’T FEED THE TROLLS! Never reply to or try to explain yourself to a troll. Never give them an ounce of your energy. They’re not interested in truth, fellowship, or council. They feed off anguish, and hope to gain access to your audience (most trolls only have tiny followings—if any at all—on their own webpages and social sites) in order to legitimize or make a name for themselves while increasing overall misery. They don’t just love doing this; we now know such parasites actually have a lust for it.
This is where something even more sinister than mental instability comes into play.
It’s something I want to discuss over the next couple weeks in several entries to this short series.
It involves ancient entities, the battle for minds, and the spirits who puppet those willing, fleshy gloves we refer to as Internet trolls.
TO BE CONTINUED…
[ii] ScienceDirect, Volume 67, September 2014, Pages 97–102