QOTD: Troll Psychology

It’s not about fat, but this quote from my fave advice columnist Carolyn Hax‘s live online chat is just startlingly accurate. Especially on a week when the whole fatosphere has been seeing increased troll activity (including just oodles of hate speech here that you guys thankfully never have to see), I think it’s worth pinning up on the wall.

Speaking of stages, I think there are stages of perception: 1. When all you know or notice is yourself; 2. When you think everything that you have felt applies to others as well; 3. When you realize that others can go through the same thing as you but not feel the same way as you did; 4. When you can put yourself in other’s positions and understand what they feel. Everyone knows Stage 1 is obnoxious, but people stuck in Stage 2 can almost be more so, because they think they know something about you.

This handily describes the problem with approximately 82% of the trolls we see around here, and as much as 96% of the similar people we interact with in our daily lives (since presumably a slightly lower proportion of those are just immature little knobs who get off on spewing hatred, at least if you’re not in high school).

I think it’s often handy to have a window into the minds of those who antagonize you, even if you don’t really want to know what it’s like in there. This is one of those windows.

61 thoughts on “QOTD: Troll Psychology

  1. Hax is brilliant, isn’t she? And this bit of brilliance is especially timely, considering that darling and hilarious Gene Weingarten (whom I love even more than Hax, usually) broke my heart earlier this week, in the same forum, -precisely- by being locked in Stage 2 on weight issues.
    I adore Gene, but he declared on Tuesday that we have an obligation to our partners to keep our weight down where that partner finds us attractive, and asserted that he might weigh 250 instead of 175 pounds if he weren’t working to remain fit and attractive to his wife. Didn’t say what he does to keep the weight down, or how he has concluded that he is keeping his weight at 175 through sheer force of will, or what exactly he thinks people are obliged to put ourselves through to stay doable. Doesn’t seem inclined to. He’s just decided that whatever he is doing is enough to stay a whopping 75 pounds under what he thinks his natural weight might be, and that therefore everyone else can and should do the same, and they will get the same result. Stage 2, exactly.
    He’s not a hateful guy, which is what’s killing me. It’s just so…Savagey. (Except that I attribute his remark to not having thought about it enough, as opposed to being a weight-obsessed ass.)

  2. asserted that he might weigh 250 instead of 175 pounds if he weren’t working to remain fit and attractive to his wife

    Sounds like stage two! “I would eat the world if I didn’t think I owed it to my spouse to be thin, so everyone would.”

    Didn’t say what he does to keep the weight down, or how he has concluded that he is keeping his weight at 175 through sheer force of will, or what exactly he thinks people are obliged to put ourselves through to stay doable.

    Or how he knew that he would weigh 250 pounds if he stopped. Does he really mean that, or is that just a version of “OMG 400 POUNDS!!!” Like, “if I weren’t exercising constant restraint, I would become some unthinkable weight!”

  3. You know, I like to think of myself as solidly in Stage 4, but I know I backslide into Stages 2 and 3 every now and then (generally when confronted by idiots).

    I have to be vigilant. Not like weigh-myself-every-day-and-count-every-calorie vigilant, but still pretty on top of it. If I let myself go, I could totally beeline right back to Stage 1!

  4. That’s what I was thinking Tari. I think a lot of people sort of slide around within those categories – at least, *I* do, so I assume everyone else does as well. Wait…

  5. “He might weight 250″ does not equal “he did weigh 250.”

    Not that even if he did lose 75 pounds and keep him off that makes him omniscient when it comes to discerning everyone else’s eating and exercise habits, but he should know that it takes some serious bingeing over a period of many years to go 75 pounds over your setpoint from food and lack of exercise alone. I doubt that even if he “let himself go” he’d be eating that much and be tied to the recliner all day every day.

    And if he was actually a serious binge eater, that would be a completely separate issue from simply “letting yourself go.” Nobody stuffs themselves to the point of being sick because they are too relaxed, okay?

    And what of the partner who gets a psychiatric issue treated and that treatment makes him/her gain weight? Which would you rather have, a thinner partner with an untreated psych disorder, or a fatter one whose brain actually functions well?

  6. I’ll freely admit that there are some issues that I just plain don’t get, at least not on a visceral level. I don’t really know what it would be like to feel the need for sex reassignment surgery (is that the term?), or be attracted to members of my own sex, or to be a racial minority. (I was for about a year, and it was weird, but I still got unearned white points.)

    However, given that I’m not an empath, I find that a good rule of thumb is to believe people when they tell you how they feel, and when taking a stand on an issue to consider, “who is getting hurt?”

    Then side with the people getting hurt, of course!

  7. Excellent stuff. And thank you guys so much for filtering the hate speech. You awesome women are bearing the brunt of it for making SP a safe haven and I respect that so much. I can’t even take all the damn -isms and phobias evinced by other players in my online gaming world without just crying some days. You are teh r0xx0rs.

  8. I love confronting a Stage 2 person and just breaking their mind – inevitably, they will either basically stop talking, or pause before reiterating all their aforementioned ill-thought arguments. You hope you plant a seed, but there’s no guarantees.

    I am not an angry person at all, and I rarely yell, but one time, while in college, I was living in this house with 18 girls and 26 guys, and while at lunch one day, two of the guys were ranting about a student protest on-campus. I’m not quite sure what the students were protesting exactly, but it had something to do with equal representation for minorities.

    These two guys, who were white, were actually sitting there and ranting about how great African Americans have it in this country, how they don’t really have anything to complain about, and if they hate it so much here in America, they should just go back to Africa.

    Once they said that – I had been fuming internally for several minutes by that time – I just lost it, I started yelling at them nonstop for about five to ten minutes, picking apart their horrible comments and racist viewpoints (one thing I addressed was how most African Americans have been living in this country just as long as European Americans, so maybe if these guys had so many problems with the people around them in this country, then they should just go back to Europe).

    And you know what? They were silent, didn’t say a word, not for the rest of the meal. I’m not sure how much of an impact in made on them, if any, but I know that even amidst all my anger at them, I felt some satisfaction from shutting them down and making them speechless.

  9. Oh, and the other great part was how they obviously didn’t expect anyone to argue with them – now that’s some true Stage 2 thinking, and that’s certainly how many trollish people think.

  10. Sniper, I think you have just beautifully articulated how not to be a troll.

    Arashi-san, even if you didn’t make those two guys think, chances are you made someone else think. And chances are you gave someone else an excellent idea of how to confront the next troll (s)he ran across. I firmly believe that these small moments can lead to big results over time.

    Three cheers for Carolyn Hax’s excellent and insightful dissection of the question at hand.

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  12. Listen, I just want to say a huge THANK YOU THANK YOU to the Guardian Warrior Goddesses of this blog who deal with the torrents of hatred so their readers don’t have to.

    Not to get too mushy, but I really believe it’s a spiritual service.

    (Karma, I’m sure, will reward you at the least with a crateful of baby doughnuts. Each.)

    I think it’s often handy to have a window into the minds of those who antagonize you, even if you don’t really want to know what it’s like in there.

    It’s absolutely critical for tactical building of your arguments so as to efficiently — and effectively — deconstruct theirs.

    Plus it keeps your head from going asplodey.

    To wit:

    “How can people THINK THIS WAY?!?1!?”

    “Why, they’re just self-centered egocentric xenophobic narcissists.”

    “Oh! OK.”

    *return calmly to building worldwide empathetic awareness*

  13. OT here, but can I just say how awesome this blog has been for me? Today I donated blood, and the person who interviewed me asked me approximately how much I weighed. Now, I could have used that “approximately” as an out to tell him that I was any number above 110 and would still be accepted as a donor. Not only did I bring myself to tell him my true weight, but I did so proudly–doing my part for destroying conceptualized weights! He definitely did a little double-take; maybe he couldn’t believe that I was 260 pounds, because I don’t really look it. In any event, y’all rock. And I want an “I am Kate Harding” tee, badly.

  14. That’s a really good point, and something I try to live in my own life (that is, staying in Stage 4 and not giving into the temptation to regress to earlier stages when confronted with troll-y types). I have this bumper sticker on my car – one of many (yes, I’m one of *those* people ;-) ) with a similar quote: “If you can see yourself in others, then whom can you harm”, which is usually attributed to Buddha.

    This is relevant when dealing with FA trolls like those here, but also just in general life, and especially in political matters. I feel like people have become even more polarized recently, likely having something to do with talk radio, the internet, and the overall ability to get news in your specific “flavor” alone (others have written about this better and more extensively than I am here). But I (a flaming liberal) live in a conservative state, and while my boyfriend is pretty middle-of-the-road politically, his parents and many of his friends are quite conservative. I just put myself in their shoes and try to imagine their experiences (e.g., teaching in truly awful inner-city schools) and how those influence their views – and I’m sure they must do the same to understand me!

    Anyway, long ramble – but thanks for sharing! That’s great advice.

  15. Oh my god, those stages remind me of almost every message board I’ve ever been to (especially a relatively well-known beauty/cosmetics review site), with most people stuck on stage one or two.

  16. I think this puts me in Stage 3: I have a really difficult time understanding the impulse to troll in and of itself. Like, I’m pretty sure it would never even occur to me to go to, say, a baking blog, and be all CAKE SUCKS AND CAKE BAKERS SHOULD BE KILLED WITH REPEATED INSERTIONS OF PATE BRISEE INTO THEIR VARIOUS SOFT TISSUES. I’ve never had the impulse to stop by an invertebrate-lovers blog and be all I HATE COLEOPTERA GROW A BACKBONE WHY DON’T YOU. You know? I mean I might not like cake or beetles for my own personal private reasons, but if that’s the case why am I surfing the internet specifically looking for blogs about things I don’t like? And why would I go out of my way to pointlessly disparage something I don’t like in public? What does that get me? I can see disagreeing in public, or offering another point of view, but honestly, what do some of these trolls think is going to happen if they scream anonymously at Teh Fattiez on the internet? That we’ll—just not be fat, all of a sudden?

    Again, Stage Three: other people are going through the same thing I do (seeing something with which they disagree online) and making different choices. I still don’t get it, though.

  17. Thanks, FJ. That’s hugely helpful, because where I get all Stage 2 and feel like a huge grumpy troll myself is when I forget that some people aren’t burned by an overwhelming urge to understand when confronted by the confusing or the scary or the dissonant. Empathy and the attempt to hear are coping mechanisms for me, only a little altruistic: some part of my head thinks if I can just understand it, we really can all get along, and therefore my shit won’t get kicked. Or something.

  18. why am I surfing the internet specifically looking for blogs about things I don’t like? And why would I go out of my way to pointlessly disparage something I don’t like in public?

    See, I did that when I was 14 (an immature 14). Then… I grew up. So the answer is – these people have the mental age of immature 14 year olds.

    Anyway, I think Sniper has a point, sometimes Stage 4 is not possible, sometimes we just can’t understand what somebody else is feeling. But that’s okay, as long as we go back to Stage 3, listen to what they’re saying, and accept it even if we don’t really understand. The important thing is not to go back to Stage 2 and say: “I don’t understand how you can feel that way, therefore you’re wrong for feeling that way.”

  19. maybe he couldn’t believe that I was 260 pounds, because I don’t really look it

    Shit, I’ve met you, and I never would have guessed that. So, yeah, once again, hearing people’s real weights is important.

  20. You know? The most obnoxious weight-loss evangelist I ever knew (an ex-friend) can be completely explained by Stage 2. She was miserable when she weighed 205 pounds. Therefore I, too, must be miserable, since I weigh 205 pounds. She had huge health problems at 205 pounds–most of which were, incidentally, still there at 125–therefore I must be nearly immobile as well. That’s why she could never wrap her mind around the fact that I’m healthy as a horse other than allergies and old injuries, and relatively happy with myself and my life.

    God I love Carolyn Hax.

  21. Ok, this doesn’t have much to do with the post, but I just wanted to say that I am glad your blog is here. I had a distressing event last night regarding my weight. People can be awful. I am starting a blog of my own to work on body acceptance. Thank you for being here.

  22. man, I ran smack into number 2 today. At lunch some friends were complaining about the lack of 1% milk in the dining hall (cause drinking 2% instead is going to RUIN YOUR HEALTH or something) and then the talk turned to things we were and weren’t allowed to drink as children, and suddenly one woman was declaring that fruit juice is totally not healthy for you, and I couldn’t really take it. I got up to get myself some more food, and when I came back they were still on the topic, but on artificial sweeteners and that sort of thing instead, and finally I couldn’t stay quiet anymore, and I started talking about intuitive eating and health at every size and the many other things I learned from this blog and JFS and the places you guys linked to, and two of them, the ones with the most disordered eating, just didn’t get it. I said “people just need to eat what their bodies want. They’re set up to take care of themselves” and one says “no our instinct is to binge-eat when we have food for times of scarcity” and…well, there are so many things wrong with that statement, and they kept saying things like “well if I ate everything I wanted I would never stop and I gain so much weight!” and I was trying to balance both the “gaining weight is not unhealthy” with the fact that barely any women in this country actually know how to listen to their bodies and eat only what they want anymore, and you can’t use that as a basis for argument because it’s a symptom of the problem, not a cause, and…they continued to Not Get It.

    They weren’t angry or outright mocking me, but what I was saying wasn’t really sinking in, and even when I got them to agree that women in this country have highly dysfunctional relationships with food, they clearly continued to believe that actually having a healthy relationship meant only wanting small portions, and that doing so meant you would not be “overweight.”

    I might have gotten somewhere, maybe not, and they certainly weren’t trying to be trolls, but it was obvious they were applying their own disordered eating experiences to everyone, even though both of them also had serious issues beyond food; one with depression, and one bipolar.

    Anyway I was still proud of myself for finally bringing up the topic, and I think in the future I will try to make it clear that I will not participate in or stick around for conversations revolving around the “right” kinds of food, or weight, or feeling guilty about eating patterns. These two, particularly when they are together, talk about such things a whole lot.

  23. ielerol, you totally should be proud of yourself for speaking up and introducing HAES and intuitive eating to them, even if it didn’t sink in this time. It may be the first time they’ve ever encountered the idea, and maybe the next time they hear it they’ll be ready to listen.

  24. and one says “no our instinct is to binge-eat when we have food for times of scarcity”

    Yeah, that would be dogs, not human beings.

    Seriously, though, what SM said. You really should be proud of yourself. Excellent work!

  25. Interestingly enough, stages 1-3 sound freakishly similar to things I can recognise in the mind of someone with mental disorders, such as severe depression.

  26. I can slide about between stages 2 and 3 (I have an analytical mind, and sometimes when thinking about why someone does things I’ll try to use my previous experience to stitch together an answer). Some of my friends can be very stage 2 (And some of my classmates are still wallowing in stage 1).

    My best friend since primary school (I think that’s “elementary school” in American) is a former vegan, now vegitarian, from the Gillian McKeith school of nutritional thought. She keeps telling me that I’m going to die of MS because I drink artificial sweeteners and that my metabolism is ruined because I don’t have breakfast on weekdays til after an hour after waking up. I just want to tell her it’s A) Probably rubbish and B) Not her business to police my food, but I don’t quite have the heart to tell her when I know she’s very committed to being “healthy” as a lifestyle.

  27. Hax is absolutely spot-on here. I think there’s a society-wide failure today to even try and recognize other people’s ways of seeing the world, especially if they differ from a prescribed ‘norm’ – an awful lot of reality TV seems to be based on the premise that it’s OK to trash anyone who’s ‘not like us’.

    I’ll admit that – while I try, as far as possible – I find that the people it’s most difficult to get into the shoes of are the ones who wouldn’t step into yours. I can begin to try and work out how why they feel the way they do, but it basically ends up coming back to the fact that the idea of different views being real actually frightens them. It upsets their whole comfortable universe, as if you’d just proven gravity didn’t always work. And yes, there’s a reason for why they’re that frightened, but they’ll be damned if they’d admit it – even if you asked outright – because to them, that’s ‘just the way things are’.

    It’s actually quite interesting to see the response from such people when you say outright to them ‘Well, yes, maybe that is true for you but it’s not true for me.’ Quite often, before they even get angry and defensive, there’s that moment of utter bewilderment and disbelief. Or the frantic scrabbling around for ‘facts’ to prove why you’re still wrong…..’Oh, lowblood pressure is also bad for you, so you’re still unhealthy from being fat even if you don’t have high blood pressure!!’ …..’You know, you can still have a wheat allergy without having any other symptoms’ (than being fatter than me because you eat bread and I don’t). Etc. (Interestingly, outside of the area of food, diet and fat, I’ve most often encountered this attitude in religion. But maybe that says more about me and the kind of discussions I get into!)

    Real narcissists are the dangerous ones – they’re #1 types, who sometimes appear #2 but only because they see other people, if at all, as extensions of themselves. Empathize with them, or attempt to, and they’ll drain you dry. I speak as someone who’s been personally involved with at least two, and there’s an art to recognizing them, treating them in a civil way, but avoiding being manipulated.

    Robert, that’s an interesting comment. Can you elaborate, please?

  28. asserted that he might weigh 250 instead of 175 pounds if he weren’t working to remain fit and attractive to his wife

    This is usually my argument against people who pretend to be exercising self-control to be at their current weight. I’m not exercising self-control to be this weight anymore than you are. To be misguided about this is laughable, get a grip!

  29. “Why, they’re just self-centered egocentric xenophobic narcissists.”

    I need this on my background of my computer or something.

    [Spent yesterday being lectured by a doctor I work with about weight issues. See, he's constantly giving diet advice to parents of kids, the latest one being 5 years old. He overheard my complaining about this to a coworker, and decided to tell me all about how "these parents are literally poisoning their kids", and actually said "they'll go blind and their hands will fall off, it's not pretty", and then said "no, I know it's not just weight that shows healthy", but somehow NEVER gives diet advice to parents of kids without adding "over weight" to the kid's description. But gosh, he's a doctor, so he probably knows everything. According to him being obese is going to kill kids more than untreated epilepsy will]

  30. “…one says “no our instinct is to binge-eat when we have food for times of scarcity”

    Actually, from a personal perspective, I’d agree with that. Given that guilt-induced, self-imposed starvation informs the lives of so many, that’s the effect of yo-yo dieting in a nutshell.

  31. She keeps telling me that I’m going to die of MS because I drink artificial sweeteners and that my metabolism is ruined because I don’t have breakfast on weekdays til after an hour after waking up. I just want to tell her it’s A) Probably rubbish and B) Not her business to police my food,

    I’ve gone beyond irritated at this kind of thing into a kind of incredulous bemusement. Do people really think that human beings are such fragile, finely-tuned creatures that we must be fed certain things at certain times in certain amounts OR WE WILL DIEDIEDIEDIE!!!!

    I mean, my goodness, how did we ever survive as a species in the first place?

  32. In my mid twenties I was totally stuck in stage 2 with my superior knowledge of business and relationships, and lorded it over everybody. Then in my early 30′s when I lost 70 pounds I staged 2 quite a few more people. Then I realized something. I wasn’t getting any satisfaction from that, and I began to see I was hurting others. Here I was thinking I was being frank and honest when instead I was being inconsiderate and erecting barriers. Maybe it was time for me to stop advsing and start listening. Halla-fuckin-lujah, you know? The Shapelings have voices worth listening to. Can I thank you all enough for your honesty, humor, and vulnerability? For creating a forum that goes against the screwed up MSM? Or for your righteous indignation and delicious baby flavored donuts?!? I think not. But I’ll try. Thank you.

  33. I remember *exactly* when I graduated to stage 3 – my brother and I were discussing the pressure on young women to stay out of certain fields or out of college all together, when he turned to me and said, “I don’t think sexism exists anymore.” I was so shocked, I didn’t know what to say. I mean, there are 150 million women in America, 3 billion in the world, and when we say we have problems, you say, “I don’t believe you?”

    So now, my basic rule is that everyone is the expert on their own experiences. When I talk to people at stage 2, I alternate between wanting to bang my head against a wall and thanking the gods that I’m past it.

  34. Good old aspartame. I have so much of it, I’m sure if it was truely, truely dangerous I’d be dead by now with the amount of diet coke I drink.

  35. I can’t believe how that aspartame/MS story keeps circulating even though snopes covered it so long ago. A woman at my job was going on and on, and making dozens of copies of the “Sweet Poison” story the other day (she’s diabetic so she’d been drinking some diet stuff)…she was so excited I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was bull. But everyone she showed it to said “Oh hell, I don’t drink diet soda anyway” so there was that.

    I just can’t stand the taste of artificial sweeteners (and the idea of all the chemicals, even if they’re deemed safe); if I’m having a coke, I just have a coke. Without caffeine, though. (Because caffeine causes cancer and is poison heh – no, really because my body just doesn’t like caffeine.) Sometimes they make a mistake and assume a fat person would order diet, so that’s what they give me. It always goes right back lol. I do know some people that get headaches if they don’t avoid aspartame – my daughter does, for one. But that may be some type of allergic reaction, who knows.

    You know, I just realized something about those stages. They correlate perfectly with my own ages. For example I was stage 1 in my teens – 13, 14, etc. I was stage 2 in my 20s. Stage 3 in my thirties. And now, hopefully, more of a stage 4 mixed with some 3 (but I’m only 41.) And because this is true for me, it is for you too :P

  36. Real narcissists are the dangerous ones – they’re #1 types, who sometimes appear #2 but only because they see other people, if at all, as extensions of themselves. Empathize with them, or attempt to, and they’ll drain you dry. I speak as someone who’s been personally involved with at least two, and there’s an art to recognizing them, treating them in a civil way, but avoiding being manipulated.

    We can haz manual, plz?

  37. littlem – try googling “narcissistic personality disorder”; there’s tons of info out there. I stumbled on it more or less by accident, and realized that it fitted the way these particular people behaved. Most of the info is for people in a marital/sexual relationship with such a person, but it’s generally quite useful.

    I’m still in favor of, most of the time, giving other people the benefit of the doubt. Most of the time, because the vast majority of people are simply growing and learning, at different, sometimes sporadic rates, like human beings do. But sometimes, you have to protect yourself.

  38. I didn’t expect such a response on the sweeteners – thanks everyone! I’ll get my friend Snopes’d up as soon as possible, though I suppose whether it’ll change her mind on sugar free drinks is another matter entirely.

  39. I’ve been involved with a narcissist who was able to successfully appear to be #4, too. That was a big slap in the face once I realized what was going on. He was the sweetest, most empathetic, most sympathetic, most romantic person in the world, but all in service to getting people to pay attention to him. That only becomes clear when you see what happens to people they decide they don’t need any more, and if that’s you, it’s ugly.

  40. One additional thing about aspartame (and I was psyched about how quickly people jumped on that — “the opposite of science” indeed!). You should always be wary of anything that supposedly causes a whole host of vague physical symptoms in unrelated systems. If it causes headaches AND dizziness AND nausea AND itching AND fatigue AND numbness AND changes in menstrual patterns (just as an example!), there is a high likelihood that it capitalizes on the fact that everyone has some of these symptoms sometimes, and is more likely to notice them when they’re looking. Not every condition with a similar set of symptoms is bunk, but it’s a red flag.

  41. Entirely, totally OT, but this is driving me crazy. Does anyone else see a tiny little black smiley face off in the right-hand gray margin floating just above the “Notes from the Fatosphere” link? Please? Because it’s sitting there looking at me, and I don’t know what it wants.

  42. Entirely, totally OT, but this is driving me crazy. Does anyone else see a tiny little black smiley face off in the right-hand gray margin floating just above the “Notes from the Fatosphere” link? Please? Because it’s sitting there looking at me, and I don’t know what it wants.

    car’s met Chip! He’s the blog’s ghost.

  43. Heh. I think quite a few of the WordPress templates has Chip the Smiley Face on it. I know mine does.

    He’s on the left hand side of my blog, grinning away. But on my computer, the tiny black smiley face is at the bottom of the page

    So, you’re not nuts. We all see him. :-)

  44. Fillyjonk is smart.
    It was good for me to see this. I think I’m stage 4 on some issues, but I have to admit probably more like a new 3 when it comes to food. So can we have maybe a little bit of sympathy for the (nicer) 2s, please?

    A real light that has come on for me, after getting a better grip on my own disordered eating (reading fat acceptance blogs) – not everybody is as fucked up about food as I am. I used to truly believe that every person in the world who didn’t seem to have an ED was lying and hiding it. I still have a hard time with this concept. I had never known any other way of thinking, and I knew I could hide it pretty well, so it was logical to assume that other people were hiding it from me.

    I honestly believed that every thin person must be starving themselves and every fat person must be overeating. I think sometimes the stage 2 people are just too deep in their own miserable hole to see out, you know?

    It has also helped getting to know my SO who is the only person in the world I trust enough to not deep down think he is lying about his relative lack of food issues. Even if I still lie to him about food sometimes (but not so much anymore). But presumably that is a result of my own food issues that he doesn’t seem to have. Unless he’s lying too. Argh.

  45. Mia, I bet there are a lot of readers who can relate to your comment — we’re all at different stages in our self acceptance, and that’s okay. I think the difference between steps 2 and 3 seems to be twofold: (a) you start to listen to others, and (b) you believe what they tell you (as your comment rightly points out). We’ve talked a lot here about what happens when *other* people can’t do (b), but maybe not so much about when we do it ourselves.

  46. The smiley face ghost measures hits to each page. I think she’s/he’s (pick a gender) is on all the WordPress blogs. I’ve got my own apparition too.

  47. Aw, now I feel like I have to explain myself and reassure you that I’ve never been an evil batshit crazy bitch like the people in the linked post. I think maybe you have found a necessary but not sufficient condition for trollness.

    But also, maybe I’m deluded. In analogy to the potential 250 pound man, the only difference between me and the WW people could be force of will. I don’t think so, though. There must be some more evil there.

  48. Well, I never saw him until just now! So maybe we’re collectively hallucinating.

    Whoa! He’s at the bottom on the page. I guess Chip gets around.

  49. That’s so funny! And weird. Computer programming mystifies me. He’s counting the page views? Oh no, that means he is looking at me!!!!

  50. Oh damn, I felt left out for a minute, but there he is! Chip, huh? I didn’t know this was a haunted blog. Spooky :D

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