Guerrilla Bullying n. Bullying tactic whereby the bully waits for the target to write/say something that can be twisted out of context or meaning, in order to paint that target as a bad person, diminish their credibility, or raise themselves up in the esteem of another target. Manipulative conversationalism. Sociopathic manipulation of one or more targets for the pleasure of the executor.
Have you ever been out with a group, or meeting new people, possibly commenting on a friend’s post on social media, and someone comes out of nowhere to tell you how wrong/stupid/arrogant or some other negative that you are? And, what did you do to this person? Probably nothing. Yet, here you are, being attacked (trolled) by someone clearly bent on manipulating the emotions of everyone around you so you are perceived as a bad person.
Congratulations. You’ve met a sociopath!
I first met individuals like this in grammar school. Nothing you said was ever right to them. You either offended them by mentioning something that impacted an obscure family member of theirs, and this hurt their feelings making you a nemesis for life, or you said something using words they wouldn’t quite use, and you got a lesson in synonyms. Seriously. Have you ever been corrected by someone who states the exact same thing you just did, only reworded to make them appear smarter or more woke? The worst part is when others support them, but that’s what the person with antisocial personality disorder (APD) wants to achieve.
Confronting the APD raises the stakes. Now you’ve pointed out what they’re doing. So, naturally, they have to save the mission, and they go on the attack, striking you out your knees. They’re frothing like a mad cartoon dog. Why doesn’t anyone see that? Because, on the outside, they’re pretending to be collected. So it’s necessary that your response isn’t too heavy handed, but makes a clean cut, or they’ve won the game by making you seem overly emotional. The others will think you’re too angry and need to get a grip. But, keep in mind, they like wrestling with those who will engage them. That’s a good feeding for them. So what can you do?
I’ve learned to not care, but not necessarily in the way you think. If folks are going to ignore my behavior to this point, then they never paid me any mind to begin with, and it’s a clear indication the friendship is one sided. Thus, I make my response, sounding angry or not. But, the thing is, that I’m not angry. I know what is going on, and I’m amused by their struggle to paint me in negative light. It triggers a drive in me to wind them up. Most of the time, I never return to replies, because people are just that shitty on the internet. Honestly, who has the time and energy for this? There are a lot better uses of my time and efforts, as well as language skills. Neither my blood pressure or pulse quickens. Okay. Maybe a little at the smell of fresh troll in the water.
Inevitably, the APD will refer to your assumed anger, saying that you’re overreacting or being mean to them. I know it’s ludicrous. Who blames someone else for the fire they set themselves? APDs do. That’s how they target and annihilate threats to their power and control in the group.
Power and control is why APDs appear like the Queen Bee in the mean girl sorority. Often they surround themselves with lesser APDs they can manipulate, or anyone really, who they’ve determined should be their henchman. That group is critical to the operation, and has to be maintained. So likely whatever you said suggested empathy (eliciting a feed response like in sharks) or it suggested competition and thus became a threat to their carefully constructed hierarchy.
APDs do not operate alone. They can be new to a group. Identifying and manipulating the pawns happens quickly. They’ve got a lot of practice in figuring this out, as it is perceived as a necessity of survival by their APD wired brain. That brain has zero empathy, and instead runs on the fulfillment of personal desires. APDs are experts in appearing normal, but there are tells, like the bullying identified here. The veil they wear is thin, and they are aware of that. Revealing their true face can result in reprisals, usually ones that appear quite severe for the negligible infraction.
Facing an APD can create a long term controversy, especially if you’ve triggered their desire to make you a nemesis. APDs thrive on having an enemy to do battle with. They will seek it out in the most inane events. Some of the greatest enemies in literature were built in exaggerated offense to a minor idea or event.
So, keep this in mind the next time you reply to someone that you don’t care for bananas, and someone piped up that you’re heartless because their gran survived only because of bananas, which saved her from poverty and a rare disorder. How dare you besmirch the memory of grandma! Because you totally knew about their gran and we’re just attacking their family for shits and giggles, am I right?
Don’t sweat it. You simply met a Sociopath. Get rid of them by starving them of the ability to feed on your reaction. If you do want to engage, because you’re in person and everyone is uncomfortably waiting, I recommend mockery.
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