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08.20.19

Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Narcissism in The Community

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 3:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A publication from the Free Media Alliance

Overview

Narcissism

Summary: “Narcissists are drawn to intelligent people. They take great pleasure in attacking, controlling and defeating intelligent people because it makes them feel smarter and more important.”

This is focused mostly on Cluster B personality disorders and their effects, and mostly on Narcissistic personality disorder, but most of all on its presence online.

It is intended as practical advice and not the result of a formal study of online behaviour. Such a formal study could help, if not compromised by a preferred outcome such as looking for an excuse to further regulate the Internet. Some formal studies are compromised by their sponsors.

People throw around a lot of ad hominem in online debates. A common example is accusing Stallman of being autistic. Stallman has said himself that he could be on the autism spectrum, and there’s nothing wrong with that — it is typically brought up to imply he is incapable of making decisions that fall in line with the real world.

“Some formal studies are compromised by their sponsors.”It’s a circular argument; if your goal is to change the world, you’re not going to be talking about things that begin by ceding that the world will not change. Some changes are more realistic than others, but the FSF has met most of its goals, except for the largest. Nothing written here is really about the FSF failing to meet their goals, only abandoning goals partially and not adopting ones that could be necessary. In terms of meeting goals, the FSF has a great track record.

Being clinically diagnosed as a narcissist is also irrelevant. If someone is diagnosed as having NPD and they are not lying and trolling and trying to destroy Free software, then the matter of NPD doesn’t need to be discussed. But when there are many people who are lying and trolling and trying to destroy Free software, then it is still useful to talk about NPD. If more people understood it, a better handle of online communication could probably be obtained by most people. This is highly relevant to the Free software community.

Narcissists are drawn to intelligent people. They take great pleasure in attacking, controlling and defeating intelligent people because it makes them feel smarter and more important. Some narcissists are very intelligent people, but the word “clever” would apply more universally, and narcissism is more about control and dominance than intelligence. Not everyone who is a jerk is a Narcissist, but some of the worst jerks could well be.

“Narcissists are drawn to intelligent people. They take great pleasure in attacking, controlling and defeating intelligent people because it makes them feel smarter and more important.”Not all trolls are narcissists either — a lot of trolling is just a harmless prank that never gets out of hand. At first it is difficult to say whether the trolling is harmful or not, and if it puts you on alert that’s alright, but it could be nothing.

Misunderstandings happen all the time. As many misunderstandings are harmless (and they really are, they’re worth resolving whenever possible) a narcissist will try to make everything seem like a misunderstanding. Don’t let this sour you on trying to resolve honest disputes.

The worst trolls are the better-known, evil awful person, who tries to suck the soul out of you one jerk-move at a time.

Most people probably still think of narcissism as just an inflated sense of self. That definition may have validity but is not too good, when every idealist is trying to find some way to save the world. Oh, you don’t want to use software that doesn’t include source code? Boom, you’re a narcissist. Beyond just trying to do “big things,” a narcissist may:

1. pretend to care about you or other people

2. misquote you and speak for you and gaslight you

“The worst trolls are the better-known, evil awful person, who tries to suck the soul out of you one jerk-move at a time.”3. use smear tactics and try to intimidate you, even as a response for anything they dislike about you at all

4. constantly accuse you of things they are doing themselves — then say they were “just kidding, lighten up”

5. play a hero, pretend to care, but have actions that never match their words

6. play people and groups against each other, often over incredibly insignificant faults

7. routinely miss the point of what you’re saying and demand you consider their points (exclusively) — all conversations with narcissists are one-sided

8. have consistently different standards for what they will tolerate vs.
what they will dump on you

Narcissists do not respond (initially, later on, after repeated attempts, or under any circumstances whatsoever) to logic or honesty with logic or honesty. They only ever double down with fallacy and lies.

Although people say “don’t feed the troll,” what they don’t tell you is that the thing you’re feeding them is your happiness and well-being.

This is not just about trolls — Narcissism explains most of the ills that society has. People think that narcissism is rare, but it is not as rare as many assume and we are creating more of them with a society that is perfect for narcissists.

“People think that narcissism is rare, but it is not as rare as many assume and we are creating more of them with a society that is perfect for narcissists.”Selfies are not so bad. Prior to camera-phones, they were known as self-portraits, and some of those are amazing. The real problem with Narcissism is just how many people out there are lying by default, how good they are at lying, and how great they are at weaseling out of any effort to pin them for it. You aren’t just wasting your time going after narcissists — you’re wasting your life.

When feminists talk about “Patriarchy” they are describing male narcissism and narcissistic success. When MGTOWs talk about women, they are describing female narcissism.

Any gender domination in society is a cultural habit reinforced by differences in physical strength. It’s not because “men are just like that.” But narcissists of all genders are “just like that.”

Though they may not always appear to act in groups, narcissists do swarm together. If there’s one nearby that you can discern, there are often others lurking around. They feed off your emotions and off the imaginary things they attribute to your feelings — whether good or bad.

But narcissism helps explain a lot of things — from non-profits that care more about a fancy, decked-out top office floor than the cause in their mission statement, to the cloying but empty promises in any major political party, to one-sided friendships that seem to always go nowhere (or go crazy) no matter how you work to nurture them from your side, to arguments that start out frustrating and become surreal over time and iteration.

“Though they may not always appear to act in groups, narcissists do swarm together.”The only protection from trolls is to starve them, and trolls are constantly trying to make good people look like trolls. No matter how many anti-bullying campaigns you run, how many people you ban, how many misguided zero-tolerance policies you write, trolls will thrive if there’s food around.

That will continue to happen until the day when everyone educates themselves better about clinical narcissism — and gives up the argument that a particular troll has it.

If you go too far, and take down everyone who displays one or two narcissistic traits, you will also stop their victims.

You want three things for a victim of narcissistic abuse: You want to give them an opportunity to heal, You want to give them room to speak that the narcissist tried to troll them out of — and you definitely, definitely want them to fully understand why it is self-destructive to try to go after the troll either directly or publicly.

Turnabout is not fair play — not just because of karma or some perfect morality — but because chasing after the troll is just another opportunity for the victim to be abused further.

“That will continue to happen until the day when everyone educates themselves better about clinical narcissism — and gives up the argument that a particular troll has it.”Many people think this is just about protecting emotionally fragile people’s feelings — or creating a “perfect” code of conduct, or that this is just an opportunity to squash more free speech.

Unfortunately, it can be all those things — even if those things won’t work. That’s a very substantial reason why a global understanding of narcissism would result in a better world, better environments and communication online and offline, less perceived need for zero-tolerance policy and censorship and controlled speech, and greater harmony and success.

If you critically examine the news and advertising, we are constantly being played against each other as a society. Corporations do this because it makes us “better consumers” by their definition of “better.” (Malleable.) So don’t think for a moment that trolls are just some obnoxious kids on an internet forum.

Trolls create and sustain monopolies, they use marketing to psychologically manipulate the public, and they create a society in which we cannot work together to do anything meaningful against them. Understand that power, and you can learn to feed it less.

“By no means was all of this said just to sum it up as “use GNU,” but yes — a free operating system would help substantially because it starves corporations that are bent on controlling not just your computing via their software and social media platforms and ridiculous “Smart” devices — but your entire life, via your computing.”Will using a fully free operating system help? By no means was all of this said just to sum it up as “use GNU,” but yes — a free operating system would help substantially because it starves corporations that are bent on controlling not just your computing via their software and social media platforms and ridiculous “Smart” devices — but your entire life, via your computing.

Using Free software, unlike using “Open Source” is a political and ethical act. Using Free software promotes freedom (and choice as well) and it teaches that sometimes, “the shiny” is actually just poison.

That said, there is a lot more to freedom than just software. So many things run on digital platforms now, that the relevance of Free software to other (more conventionally thought of) freedoms is understated. This is not just about Free software — it is about free society and a better mankind.

Above all, it is most certainly not a call for more censorship — but instead, an idea that may help people realise why more censorship is not needed, and wouldn’t help much anyway.

When you increase the number of tools and features for controlling people and groups, narcissists tend to find better uses for those tools than the rest of us. This is true whether you’re talking about technology or politics.

“So many things run on digital platforms now, that the relevance of Free software to other (more conventionally thought of) freedoms is understated.”Narcissism is not just male or female, left or right, rich or poor, eastern or western. It is a fundamental evil that has plagued humanity for millennia. But between overpopulation, extremely scientific marketing and global communication, it is very likely that the problem is worse than ever in history.

A thorough understanding of the problem is the best first step towards ideal solutions; while a misunderstanding, uncorrected, is a small step towards chaos. The Internet is full of misunderstandings, and this is one it really can’t afford. If you are tired of being trolled, or have friends that are tired of the same, a good understanding of narcissism is the best medicine you could have. It won’t help you fix the narcissists, but properly applied it will save you a boatload of trouble.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (Public Domain)

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