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Internet debate gone horribly wrong – trauma, ruined conscience

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  • #101152
    Mete
    Participant

    There’s an internet forum I’ve been a member of for years. A year back around Christmas I made the grave mistake of trying to take part in a discussion about racism in a thread dedicated to taboo topics. I made a bad reply and said something I did not believe – I had good intentions but failed in communication. For the first time in my life, I got called a racist (because if there’s one thing some people love, it’s throwing that word around) and some debate ensued with one member clearly pissed off by my post, who proceeded to immediately start throwing crap at me. The debate ended and I didn’t think too much of it – life went on. However, for some mind boggling reason, I wanted to debate the exact same thing for a second time, even though I got told that maybe you shouldn’t do that. I ended up writing what was basically a manifesto, saying stuff like ‘islam must be kept completely out of Europe’ (which I never fully believed, needless to say) and published it. What followed was a flurry of insults, racist, bigot, you name it, except this time around from members of the forum I had been friends with for years. The debate ended and I dropped out of the forum, with my mind taken through some serious amounts of stress. In the following months, it obviously harmed my concentration and was constantly present in the back of my head – I’m not really sure how I thought it would end during that time – until in late July a politician made a controversial claim quite close to what I had said which garnered widespread condemnation and I could no longer take it and broke down. The two debates circulated in my head endlessly while I repeated to myself ‘I am not a racist’ – eventually, I realized I had to go back. I was avoiding the forum like the plague at this point, but I went back and made a post saying I regretted what I had said. This broke the loop and I started slowly climbing towards sanity. I had to apologize to each member separately and make amends – I made donations and sent apology emails to representatives of groups I felt I had wronged, which included muslims and the Romani to name a couple. All this time I’ve been participating in negative self talk for ruining absolutely everything for myself for no reason at all. If I had to make a guess, I’d say I’m currently operating at maybe 2/3 mental capacity. I’m mildly depressed and at this point mostly concerned with the negative impression I left – some of the members on that forum related to all of this are no longer active, so I couldn’t get in touch with them. Before I made that post, I had grown quite incredibly jaded, judgmental and had quite a dark sense of humor – now I simply lack the mental energy to strive for anything but peace of mind. I’m normally very introverted and have no history of mental health issues and now that I’m dealing with one, it’s entirely my own fault. I just want my life back and to be as if none of this ever happened, which is obviously easier than done. This will keep affecting me in subtle ways for a long time, but if my current rate or recovery is of any indication, I’d say I’ll be pretty close to normal in some 6 months, fully recovered in a year. That’ll be two years of recovery for a forum post. I really need to get hang of a routine – all of this completely scrambled my usual set of interests and I’ve been living a very ascetic lifestyle and generally not being able to enjoy life to the fullest. It is incredibly difficult for me to come up with anything positive related to all of this, but I supposed it serves as a lesson of sorts. I had to learn the hard way that I am terrible at handling rejection, among other things. I keep telling my past self – you do not want to do this, you just want to get on with you life and make sure everything goes according to plan. Do not create worries for yourself, you’ve got enough of those as it is. And here I am, feeling like trash, with low self esteem and school work that’s piled up because I completely blew the fall semester – there’s no way I could attend those already difficult math courses with my head murdering me.

    So that’s my story. Thanks for taking the time to read it.

    • This topic was modified 7 years, 10 months ago by Mete.
    #101156
    Inky
    Participant

    Hi mete!

    You’re not alone.

    Last year I made the mistake/”mistake” of saying that for people in a threesome, what the husband and wife did was none of the third partner’s business (because: marriage). Holy PC Crap Storm, Batman!! I was called names, tried to be bullied off the forums. I stayed silent until someone else actually came to my defense. Then I rejoined the conversation. Soon I was more “right” as more and more people broke out of their PC Fear and agreed with me.

    What I would do is go back as if everything was normal. If anyone gives you crap, just say, “You’re still thinking/talking about that?” And never, ever apologize. If you do then people will think they are right/”right” after throwing an obscene amount of crap to the poster that is far worse than anything he posted! I wish I had a certain link, but if you Google Search there are ways and techniques to shut down an internet argument. Even to the point of alluding that you’re a moderator. (i.e. “We on (name of forum) support the expression of all opinions, but flaming will not be tolerated.”)

    Also remember that your UserName/Nickname is NOT YOU. They actually don’t know who you really are.

    Best,

    Inky

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 10 months ago by Inky.
    • This reply was modified 7 years, 10 months ago by Inky.
    #101159
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear mete:

    At the least, a good part of what you wrote on the forum was your real, authentic feelings and thoughts. It was you that you put out there for others to read. Unfortunately, you got attacked. Like an individual in a herd attacked by the herd, rejected, expelled. That is a scary experience. There are herds of elks where I live. The safety of each individual is dependent on being accepted by the herd. If separated from the herd, the individual elk will feel such fear, that it will do anything to be accepted back.

    I think that your anxiety is not much different. We all want to be accepted and liked by “the herd”- by other people, the forum herd in your case.

    As humans we need to be authentic. The individual person has a need to express oneself. And the individual person has a need to belong, to fit in, to be liked, to be accepted.

    Fitting in at the expense of being authentic will cause you anxiety as well as being authentic and rejected.

    What do you think so far?

    anita

    #101161
    Mete
    Participant

    Thanks for the thoughts. I’m now back on the forum and will be for as long as it takes for it to stop being ‘that place where that bad thing happened’. Really though, its well past it’s hayday and if I had simply had the foresight to drop out without causing drama, that would’ve been perfect. The set of interests I had developed back then weren’t really something I could freely discuss there – I talked about how this and that was a threat, but really, it was that forum that was a threat to me. It had some alright people but was quite honestly more trouble than it was worth.
    And yes, I did say some of my genuine opinions – only to receice dismissal and mockery in return by people who clearly had no interest beyond making the worst of me. And that really pissed me off, so they achieved their goal, while I lost. And now I have to let go of resentment toward them and forgive them for that.

    I did have some people who stood up in my defense and I’m very grateful to them for that. I’ve beeb using this nickname for a good decade now and it’s kind of become my second name in some sense and now it feels tarnished.

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 10 months ago by Mete.
    • This reply was modified 7 years, 10 months ago by Mete.
    • This reply was modified 7 years, 10 months ago by Mete.
    #101192
    Vesper
    Participant

    Mete,

    Sounds like you’ve already moved toward resolving your own situation, but I just read your post and felt a pang. I wanted to send you a hug. I don’t think there is a single person alive that hasn’t blurted something out that they didn’t regret. Sometimes it’s a gut reaction that maybe you express before you have all the facts. Sometimes it’s a long-held belief that might be anchored in questionable history. Sometimes it’s just something that sounds completely hilarious in your head and you can’t wait to get it out there, not realizing that the person standing beside you is “in love” with the very dress you just declared “looks like a scarecrow’s castoff.” Oops. 🙂 We’ve all done it. But you know what?! Mistakes are how we learn! No one is perfect. We develop our own sense of truth by bouncing ideas and thoughts around, sometimes aloud, until we find out what feels right to US.

    The Internet, of course, turns momentary lapses in judgement into epic dramas! I have empathy for anyone who is trying to develop their own views and beliefs in an online world where there is no room for tolerance and understanding (this isn’t one of them, BTW). What happened to you was very unfortunate. I hope you don’t let it stop you from feeling free to be yourself without fear of judgment. Hugs! 🙂

    #101214
    Mete
    Participant

    Thanks. That second post really was all around half baked and ill thought out. There was some stuff in it that was correct but also some stuff I never truly believed for a second, but spent all my energy defending anyway, only to later have to pry myself loose from it. I just kind of felt this weird need to get it out there despite the fact that simply being quiet would’ve been the better option in absolutely every way. I remember being so excited that it completely clouded my judgment. I had forums with very like minded people where I could’ve discussed this stuff till the end of the world with no fear of it backfiring on me but I made the wrong choice at wvery turn. And now I obviously have little interest in debating any of it. Perhaps for the best. I’ll just go back to playing video games and leave the politics to other people, haha.

    #101227
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear mete:

    It is probably a good idea for you to retire from that website as well as from political debates until the rest of 2016. Spend the rest of this year in pursuits that will benefit you, help your clarity of thinking and peace of mind.

    anita

    #101231
    humour
    Participant

    My heart goes out to you Mete. Like Vesper said, internet makes everything big. People just rip others apart. Not that these people are bad, its just the way the world is and the majority of them are nice and they understand sooner or later but mob mentality is a dangerous thing. Its just that some people can handle it while introverts find it hard I guess; when they get targeted. I am not rationally embarrassed for what I said and to this day I do not understand what was in it that made people react the way they did and call all sorts of names and labels. Inky, sometimes there are some people you meet quite regularly and you know they’ve read the post, they just don’t know its you and its quite hard. Lets face it, no matter what our opinions are, no one is born with an anti-shaming circuitry in the brain. If its one-to-one, you can explain or if you get shamed by 10 people you can explain, but on the internet, communication is difficult. People can twist your opinions and project their own mind and then put the blame on the original poster when the original poster has nothing to do with it. An internet forum is the last thing you would worry about in life, but you never know what life has in store for you until it shows up!

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 10 months ago by humour.
    #101234
    Mete
    Participant

    Sometimes it’s a gut reaction that maybe you express before you have all the facts. Sometimes it’s a long-held belief that might be anchored in questionable history.

    Both of these statements ring true. For example, I had never considered myself racist in the strict sense of that word, but I did have negative impressions of some groups of people and may have picked up influences that were less than healthy that no one had really brought into question before all of this. For example, I can remember moments from my teenage years where I already had a negative impression of the Romani and held that belief for years. I never had a bad experience with them myself, was smart enough to be wary of them. I’m an international student and really did not give too much of a damn about race in general (which is good) and it wasn’t really part of my set of interests anyway. That second post was very much premature in that there’s really no reason whatsoever for me to set my opinion in stone at such a young age on an ever-evolving issue such as immigration and islam. Best to leave your options open.

    Thank you for your concern, anita, but I will stick around on that forum for a while longer. The people there have been very understanding and forgiving and right now I’m feeling quite lonely, so I’d like to connect with people. I moved out last summer and under normal conditions would’ve welcomed the peace with open arms but I haven’t been able to enjoy it due to all of this. I normally enjoy spending time on my own, but now I crave for relationships and activity that puts my mind out of all of this.

    I will, however, steer clear of politics for the time being. I tried my hand at it, blew it and caused myself massive amounts of headache, so perhaps it really isn’t for me. Life was much more enjoyable and simpler when I stuck to other interests.

    I generally try to make the best of people and appreciate a good debate for its own sake, but some people are quick to instantly jump into personal insults, mockery and so forth. Particularly the PC anti-racism crowd.

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 10 months ago by Mete.
    • This reply was modified 7 years, 10 months ago by Mete.
    #101271
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear mete:

    Then I hope you do stay away from people who insult you, mock you and so forth, on line, on the phone and in person.

    Take care:
    anita

    #101327
    Mete
    Participant

    Thanks, I will. Going to be taking it real easy for the time being.

    When the Charlie Hebdo attack happened, I remember jumping out of bed in rage. I am generally not a very emotional person but it triggered a very genuine response in me – I suppose I took it quite personally in a sense. When these last two attacks in Paris and Brussels happened, I felt nothing. I simply lack the energy to do anything but stare and watch it happen.

    #101343
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear mete;

    As outrageous, terrible those attacks in Europe, unfortunately there is nothing you can do about them. There is nothing I can do. This is one reason why I choose to have no TV service, years now. It is better for me to not hear bad news about which I can do nothing.

    In this violent, unjust and insane world, keep yourself as safe and sane as you can and keep your energies and courage for what is possible for you succeed at.

    anita

    #101349
    Mete
    Participant

    The attack happened just between those two posts, the latter being the one that drained me of all my energy. I do wonder how I would’ve reacted to those latter attacks had I been at full mental health when they happened.

    I tend to rank years based on how good they were. 2012 was great – I graduated, had no money issues, continued my studies. 2013 was pretty good as well. 2014 I didn’t land a job, which cut into my school motivation and I was on a shurt fuse – you could tell by my posts on that forum becoming less considerate. Add to that the fact that I was just becoming interested about immigration and such and it was a disaster in the making because you really have to be careful with your words when it comes to this stuff. 2015 could’ve been great since I did get a job and moved out, but it ended up being my worst year yet due to this. 2016 is shaping up to be mediocre – if I finish my studies properly and land a job, that should up my mood quite a bit, but I’ll still be a far cry of my normal self. I plan on continuing straight to Master’s studies and by then I’d say I’ll be in good enough mental condition that my school performance won’t be terribly affected. Still, what an utterly pointless episode this has been. What could possibly be more important than your own mental health? Once you lose it, what do you have left? I keep telling my past self – you have precisely one responsiblity – keep yourself at strictly 100% mental capacity so that you can handle what life throws at you. That is nonnegotiable – you do not have permission to do anything that could endanger it.

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 10 months ago by Mete.
    • This reply was modified 7 years, 10 months ago by Mete.
    #101363
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear mete:

    Part of the Serenity Prayer is: “.. grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

    For good mental health we need those things, that serenity, that courage and that wisdom.

    For good mental health we need to feel confidence in our ability to exert power over our lives. Not complete power, as such is unrealistic, but reasonable power. It is necessary for us to feel that we have some power over what is happening in our lives.

    When you got so engaged in the very real problem of immigration and terrorism in Europe, you got invested in trying to change the things you cannot change; in placing so much of your emotional energy in what you have no power to change. Such a quest is bound to act against mental health because it brings about a sense of total powerlessness.

    So, yes, focus on what you can exert power over. Keep evaluating things for what you cannot change and what you can change.

    anita

    #101388
    Mete
    Participant

    You’re absolutely right, anita. The first post I made was largely okay for the most part and I made some good points but the people I was debating with were clearly on a different page and didn’t know where I was coming from with my concern. So I supposed to logical followup was ‘I need to show them!’ and I wrote that second post – and now I’m telling myself, doing this won’t change a single thing, you’ll only ruin everything for yourself. And that is what happened. I suppose I’m a bit of a perfectionist in the sense that I want to do everything right the first time around. This was everything but, and now I need to go back on my words and keep apologizing just to feel better and climb towards the kind of peace of mind I took for granted. You really don’t know what you have till you’ve lost it.

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 10 months ago by Mete.
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