You don’t see as many blog entries from me these days, partly because I’m more often commenting in an online forum or three – and partly because my time has become even more precious. My new bride and I are often out and about, doing things. Or at home we’re crafting, designing, making things. My life has taken a very positive turn, and my blog is suffering from it!
But I do write brief comments online, when I have a few minutes, and that invariably leads me to an occasional crazy person.
No, I don’t mean the “normal” kind of crazy that some people get from indoctrination, or due to a conspiracy theory.
I mean that the person actually has some sort of psychosis. A true detachment from reality. Their replies can degenerate into “word salad”, or worse – a self-cohesive structure that is true to itself, but has little or no connection to reality.
When I run into someone like this, I’m torn in how to respond to them. In many cases what they say makes enough sense to garner a reply – except for that one bit that it is all based upon, which is – frankly – insane or incomprehensible.
Suddenly these people stop being a conversational opponent, suddenly I see them as a “hurt puppy”, lost and confused in a world that doesn’t understand them.
So how to respond to these people? If I address their comment as-is, then I validate what I now recognize as some sort of psychotic break from reality. If I tell them that they’re acting crazy… well, they’ve heard that before. Telling them that I hope they’ll get better, or that they should seek professional help just makes me sound like a condescending jerk.
My response, more and more often, is to cease communicating with them. If they’re on a public forum then I just don’t respond to their replies. If they show up in my blog I don’t publish their comments. (Rule 8 in my comment moderation policy)
Still, even a busted (analog) clock is right twice a day, and sometimes they will say something insightful, or stinging, and tempt me to respond. I’m torn here, because part of me wants to encourage these lucid comments with a response, like some sort of twisted positive reward system that will “train” them out of their mental illness.
It’s a very frustrating thing. But I do debate online, and I run into this much more often than I’d like. Maybe it’s the nature of the argument that attracts these people?