There are all kinds of people online, just as there are all kinds of people IRL. Fortunately I am able to steer clear of the psychopaths IRL. It is easy; one just avoids certain environments that they might otherwise run into one—like seedy nightclubs. Think of the film, Looking for Mr. Goodbar.
But avoiding 'not right in the head' types online is next to impossible. Creeps gravitate towards message boards and dating sites like moths to flames. I have an internet stalker as you know: Pet Troll. He is at it again, out on the forums, in full force. He started harassing me on Solo, in the chat room under the name Morrithey back in 2004. During my hiatus, he harassed numerous other posters and was banned. But he continues to re-register names. Then gets banned again, and again. And posts anonymously when he cannot post under a registered name. I am sure most of you are familiar with this psychopath. He even harasses offsite. I have received emails from him telling me he is going to send my Solo posts to my employer. Sick stuff. He seems to know where I work, where my son works, and the addresses I have lived at in the last ten years. He has also attempted to hack into my Gmail account and written a libelous book review on Amazon.com which he just removed a day ago—probably because he knows it is traceable to his real account.
Internet harassment is real folks. It is not just something that happens in films and novels. I have had firsthand experience. When I started posting again, the harassment started back up. It flourishes here because anonymous posting and freedom of speech are two maxims which are fully embraced. I respect this in many ways. I really do. It is actually part of the appeal of Solo. I benefit from these freedoms myself. And definitely utilize the freedom of speech clause to my advantage. But when freedom of speech and anonymous posting are taken to their extremes, we may see something more sinister manifest: systematic stalking. Perhaps rare—but possible on this type of forum. Solo is an enabler of this type of behavior, in other words. Please don't think I am knocking David and/or his baby. I'm not. I think he has one of the best sites on the Net. Unfortunately, it just happens to have some sick posters. He doesn't hand pick the cast of characters. There is no casting agent. Anyone and everyone is allowed on stage. The only thing that changes is the audience and the actors. The story pretty much remains the same, month after month, year after year. When one person leaves, another enters to fill their shoes. If a troll leaves (Wait, do they ever leave?), another will arrive to take his place.
I also believe Pet Troll is currently posting under a registered name. I think—just a hunch—that he has carefully crafted a false identity.
Could be wrong. I have been wrong before, as we all know. But I also am often right. My instincts are fine-tuned. And my reasoning abilities are sound. Haha. If I am right, however, this is the most disturbing thing I have seen online—ever. Because not only has this person been messing with innocent people who are oblivious to his deceit, but he seems to actually be delusional—almost believing his own lies. He has created a fantasy world and a new identity online. Think of the film, The Stepfather.
When reality won't do, alter your reality. Think of the film, Catch Me if You Can.
This guy's self-concept seems to be blurred—just like those film characters' self-concepts. His real life is not what he wishes it to be. So he has created a better life for himself—online. It is troubling. But probably not as uncommon as one might think. Ever see that TV show Catfish where people have created false identities to trick innocent people into online relationships with them? They create false Facebook profiles by stealing pics from other profiles and claiming ownership. Some even switch sexes, posing as a man, when if fact they are female. Or vice versa. Almost all of the catfish have been grossly overweight, social misfits with no regard for their victims. Psychopaths or just very maladjusted individuals? I don't know.
Plenty Of Fish, the world's largest free online dating site, has its fair share of creepers. Already I have had to block three members from being able to send further messages. Two were pretty benign. They seemed to be just trolling for a hookup. Setting out bait, hoping someone would bite. It was not personal. But the third one was. It started out innocently enough. A few weeks back, he sent me a message, asking me where in Sedona I lived. I wrote back and told him, close to the Starbucks. He wrote back and gave me his number then stated he is rarely online. I never called. So two days ago, he wrote back with some very abusive, stalkerish remarks about me being online a lot... and have I met anyone yet? I wrote back, despite my better judgment, asking him, "If you are rarely online how could you be be privy to my browsing habits?" (Actually, I did not use the word privy. I dumbed myself down in my reply. Not sure what my actual words were as the messages have been deleted from my inbox.) He wrote back and said he checks his inbox often and noticed I was online. Hello asshole, checking your inbox is logging onto the site. Perhaps others do the same thing? Anyhow, stalker man is now blocked as well.
Could stalker man be Pet Troll playing the role of Catfish on POF? Oh dear. What a nightmare.
What is my point in posting this rant against trolls, creepers, and stalkers online? Well, I am suggesting that I am freaking fed up. I really am. Online life, if you can call it that, is losing its luster. I am really in need of a break from all the psycho drama and psychopaths. It is easy to leave behind. Simply don't log on. I really hate the people on Solo for the most part. The loudmouths are some of the most vile people I have ever come across. I know for a fact I am not the only one who feels this way. Not even close. They are the worst the Net has to offer. Cyber bullies. People IRL don't gang up on a person and scream profanities and insults in their face, circling them like a pack of rabid wolves while wearing Guy Fawkes masks. Or do they?
I know of a place where bullying and stalking IS rampant IRL—elementary school playgrounds. Fortunately, like the seedy nightclubs, I can avoid those as well.
Trolls, whether registered or posting anonymously, harass, abuse and intimidate others for the thrill of it. Why online rather than at work, at home, at school? Because essentially they are cowards and psychopaths and the Net is the perfect playground for them to get their cheap thrills. They are hard to catch online because they do it behind a veil of anonymity where there is no accountability. Plus, targets are numerous and easy prey. But most of all they behave badly online because they never suffer any consequences. It's a game called, Catch Me if You Can—I dare you. The saying, you can run but you can't hide, does not apply. They can in fact run, and can in fact hide. And they do.
Erecting walls and having firm boundaries in place are measures one can take to safeguard against being a victim. You cannot win. No matter how clever and intelligent one is, one cannot beat them at their game. They have something that gives them the upper hand, they lack a conscience. You will lose every time. Every time. Ignore first. If that is not possible, walk away. Or run as fast as you can in the opposite direction and never look back. But make sure you have the last words: Catch me if you can, saddos!