Rethinking toxic online/intellectual behaviors & behavers

Missing immediate feedback is the key. There are many studies of face-to-face conversational interaction that examine the microadjustments that occur. Feedback in internet forums is so crude in comparison.

So, if I - for example - have had a bad day at work and am feeling really grouchy when I get home, I could shout at my wife and kick the kids, or I could sit quietly, jump on the internet and dump all my negative feelings there. It’s obvious which choice would result in less immediate push back.

Practicing Buddhists are unlikely to be that gross, but most of us have tiny blind spots somewhere. The best way I’ve found to deal with my own is a rule that says in internet environments likely to trigger me I should take a one hour break between reading and responding. … Sometimes I watch the reply that is forming in my head morphing from the aggressive to the downright compassionate during this time. It’s an interest process to observe.


I totally resonate with words of Bhante Akaliko, Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu! :anjal:

I would add one more thing that is completely discouraging in using Internet media. For me problem are not only people who write with hostile and unplesant tone (which are greatest problem of course), but also people who are overly attentive and don’t respect time of other readers and write only to fulfill their need of expression. I think some people don’t see that most people are not interested in their hundreds of posts of great length and low informative quality. It would be so great if some people would just put more quality to their posts rather than quantity, and speak only when it is really useful for the community, as says Buddha’s teaching on right speech.

I’m sorry for being a little harsh here, but I write this in spirit of metta, hoping it will bring good fruit to the whole community. I feel a lot of people in Internet in general just writes or post pictures etc. for the sake of their own boost of dopamine, and to get some attention and to express themselves. And that matters much more for them than actual quality of content shared and what value it brings to the rest of the community. It all comes from sense of self imo. If it wasn’t “their” post expressing “their” views etc., they wouldn’t care for it and spend so much time on it. But since it is “their” expression, “their” thought, this activity feeds the sense of self and it becomes an addictive habit, so strong that they can’t see that it can be taking space that could be filled with much more valueable posts to whole community. Or that they could contribute much more valuable stuff if they’ve asked themselves before posting “is it really useful for users and well written?” and post according to that.

In buddhist communities overexpressing ourselves ironically brings the opposite effects than intented (even more than for example on facebook), since in real buddhist communities people are of course more respected for being restrained, careful and respectful than by being most seen.

This article is related to facebook, but it is great analysis of Internet behavious overall. I think this article is little bit TOO harsh on people but it shows greatly the overall problem of posting for our own sake vs for the sake of community. And for that Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu to the author. :upside_down_face:

With Metta, wishing that we all benefit from such discussions and make Internet a little bit better place to connect in spirit of harmonious and mature communities :anjal: :heart:


When behaviour is seriously toxic, it’s appropriate that the material posted be removed promptly and the poster banned.

If behaviour is merely borderline, aggravating, or irritating the better line of action is universal avoidance and refusal to respond in any way. This takes personal discipline from every member of an online community, but it generally works a treat.

Posters with malicious intention simply get bored and go elsewhere to get their kicks, or up their game and display truly toxic behaviour that gets banned. Others learn (at various speeds) to adopt to the mores of the community, especially if helped along.

But remember Skinner: variable reinforcement can maintain behaviours longer than positive reinforcement does. It’s important that the negative reinforcement be 100% no response from all members.

Most online communities can’t maintain such strict discipline, but perhaps a group of equanimous Buddhist meditators have a better chance …


Don’t feed the trolls. :smiling_imp:


There is only one solution that works for me, that is to completely ignore all people who show that they aren’t fit to talk to and not wasting time defending against random attacks.

Also there is no point in explaining in detail what should be fairly easily inferred if the person seems to have unreasonable standards for proof.


Ok, we agree trolls should be killed, which would agree with AN4.111

they’re definitely dead, when the Realized One doesn’t think they’re worth advising or instructing, and neither do their sensible spiritual companions.

Of course this is advisable after mild, harsh, and mild & harsh training fails.

I wish this thread could return to focuss on toxic behaviors below “troll” identification, for those not to be “killed” from training, as most are not yet free from defilements, and to connections to the EBTs.


This one is very tricky, because it involves what will inevitably be seen as “trying to claim someone else’s position as your own.” I think it’s a very good piece of advice from that article, but in my experience it does not work. People take it as you trying to set them up for a fall using slightly-differing-words than they would have. People’s intellectual positions and the precise way they phrase their words are very precious to them, and when we try to rephrase them for them, in my experience, absolutely everything will be shot down. “No, it’s not unfair. I said it was unjust! Can you not listen? Justice and fair aren’t the same thing!” It’s their wording or the highway. Perhaps others have different experiences?


I have sometimes had different experiences - but they have been in circumstances of strong & explicit “good faith” speech practices, often with almost ritualistic affirmation of assumption of & commitment to those practices during volatile topics discussion.

“In good faith” is a legal and business concept, which has been applied to communication tactics by diplomats & relationship counselors; use of honest non-malicious behavior to enable a relationship or contract to be established or continue; reasonable and generous understanding of words; courtesy; collaborative rather than competitive agenda to understand & communicate; may involve effort to mutually resolve conflicts or misunderstandings.

Not always possible, but sometimes, yes in my experience.