Saturday, December 3, 2011

"I'm confused..." Oh, no you're not!

If you've been on the internet long enough, especially on comment boards, forums, and blogs, you have probably witnessed a scenario where a topic is brought up for discussion and much headway has been made. Perhaps there is an achievement that is desired or members are agreeing about a relatively uncomplicated concept. Suddenly, up will pop some anonymous person or perhaps the resident "concern troll" (more on this type of person in a later discussion) with a declaration about how confused they are about what's being discussed. Or maybe rather than say openly how confused they are, the person will say things like, "I don't understand" or "I don't get this", or "This is strange".

However they communicate, the person will make it clear that the concept or idea that is easy to understand to pretty much EVERYONE ELSE present is somehow the equivalent of the Rubik's Cube from Hell in their eyes. Often, they will at the same time put forth an opinion or solution that is quite contrary to what is being discussed. That somehow makes perfect sense.

And naturally, people try their best to explain the point of view being discussed, while patiently trying to explain why the alternative suggestion put forth doesn't make sense.

This effort usually goes one of two ways:

1.) The person will become insulted, and "feel" bullied, and maintain that the dominant viewpoint is confusing and unfair and that they just don't understand what's going on. All while maintaining that their viewpoint is the one that makes sense (even if it doesn't to any logical person present). The conversation is at this point derailed; It has been put on hold to explain to this person that the participants aren't trying to bully or upset them, but get him or her to understand what's being said. The person refuses to understand this and makes the discussion about themselves and their feelings. The other participants comply by continuing to dialogue with this person.

2.) The person continues to be confused. No matter how plainly the point of view is explained, no matter how many sensible examples are put forth, this person cannot wrap their heads around what is being said. They will continue to ask all sorts of questions and after awhile it feels like an interrogation. They may also continue to champion an alternative point of view, which is very easy for them to understand and appreciate, no matter how contrary it is to what is being discussed and agreed on. And if anyone questions their point of view, they may revert to outcome 1 or they'll become even more confused. They end up not understanding what's wrong with their offered solution in addition to being unable to comprehend the topic at hand. The topic is derailed as discussion is put on hold to explain and defend the point of view.

There are some commonalities between these two outcomes. First, the discussion at hand has been derailed. This is the most important part of what has happened because in reality, it's very likely what the person or persons who joined the discussion actually wanted in the first place. There are a multitude of tactics that saboteurs use when they don't want a particular discussion to go anywhere (Many thanks to Eugenia for the link!). Let's look at tactic number 9 via the posted link:

Play Dumb. No matter what evidence or logical argument is offered, avoid discussing issues except with denials they have any credibility, make any sense, provide any proof, contain or make a point, have logic, or support a conclusion. Mix well for maximum effect.

So what has actually happened is that a discussion has been pulled off topic through purposeful sabotage by someone who understood perfectly well what was being discussed.

Even more incredible, I've witnessed these persons using this tactic in one discussion and entirely different tactic in another discussion AT THE SAME TIME! They are angry and disruptive in one thread and patiently confused in the other. Mixing very well for a maximum effect!

When a person does this, it should become absolutely clear to any sensible person observing the behavior that the troll is full of it. You may want to tell the troll that they are full of it. I generally recommend avoiding this, because what the troll will do is try to use this prime opportunity for further derailment. If you do not want to help them harm your discussion, just walk away. Make your feelings clear and end it, don't argue, just go back to the topic. Continue the discussion and ignore the troll's further efforts to question or state their confusion. Even if they try and guilt-trip you about moving forward while they still don't understand. *sad face*


The second thing that has occurred is that the major point of the entire discussion is eventually lost! Have you ever noticed that the further off topic things are taken with one of these "confused" persons, the less the point is discussed at all? Often, a troll of this sort is not happy until they themselves and their feelings are at the heart of what's being talked about. That or participants are discussion their suggestion more than the original point. In the end, the major point is dropped all together.

To sum up: If someone one is genuinely confused, they will ask relevant questions and understand perfectly what your explanation is.

Ever heard the saying, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is?" Well when it comes to forced confusion, "If they sound too dumb to be believed, they're probably faking it." Yes, there are idiots in the world, but if this stupidity involves taking you off-topic and continually challenging of a point of view they clearly don't share, they're faking their confusion. And you are not obligated to play along. Drop them and their questions and stick to the discussion at hand. You'll feel much better, trust me.


Flaming_star said...

You're welcome, I love that link the person that gave it to my I will be forever grateful to and you're right. The 'I'm just to dumb to live' ruse has now gotten old. It's a trick of trolls and derailers. And I'm noticing more and more they're using the 'I've been slighted' excuse with it as if dumbness should be somehow honored and treated with kid gloves. Yea right, I love this blog.

Andrea Thorsen said...

I love this post! I HATE when people pretend that they can't read and comprehend basic English. It really pisses me off. I have only been blogging for a short while, but have deleted at least 15 comments that pretended that what I wrote was too complicated for them to understand. Some would even start with the words: "I'm confused...".

I know that I am not a good enough writer (by far) to write anything too complicated for someone over 5 years of age to comprehend, so I just deleted them all. Lol.