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A disturbing phenomenon that has emerged over the past several years has been the rise of ‘internet trolls’, people who regularly engage in harassment and other types of negative activity online. In this episode of the podcast, the Amens take an in-depth look at these trolls and examine how and why they engage in hurtful behavior, and why strategies like positivity-bias training can help you to remain objective when the hate comes your way.
For more info on Dr. Daniel Amen’s new book, “Your Brain is Always Listening”, visit https://yourbrainisalwayslistening.com/
Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
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Welcome back. We are talking about internet troll dragons, something we know a little bit about. Anytime you’ve got a platform, no matter how big or small, if you’ve got a platform and you’re out there every day, you’re going to get some of this. So, internet troll dragons, let’s talk about how they affect people, what you can do about them, and how these voices actually, what toll they take.
Well, it’s very interesting that if you write books, like you and I, a book that has only five star reviews, people actually don’t believe because they know the world is filled with people of a different opinion, but sometimes an internet troll is someone who is just so hurtful-
The vitriol. You can just-
… and so hateful that you know it’s not about you, that it’s about them and that they have more than [crosstalk [00:01:58].
Yeah. Or they’ll say things that really don’t make sense in context to what you’re saying, it’s just viciousness coming out.
And you said something earlier is, what you think of me is none of my business.
And it’s not your job to love me, it’s mine.
And I know Byron Katie teaches this, Terry Cole teaches this who we’re going to interview in one of our podcasts coming up. She’s writing a book on boundaries. That hurt people hurt people. And so you often wonder with the real haters, where does that come from? And I’ve experienced it actually fairly intensely. But if you’re going to go against the grain, you just have to expect you’re going to upset some people. And if you’re not upsetting people, then you’re probably not doing anything that’s-
… and useful. So…
But everybody’s got their own life experience, their own hurts, their own whatever’s going on, their own differences in religion or politics or whatever. And so there’s no possible way everything you say is going to agree with them. How people deliver it, who knows why they’re so angry and vicious? But the fact that I stand by what I said, it really has less to do with you than it does to do with them and their own background, their own experiences.
Well, being one of seven, if you have five sisters, somebody was mad at you at any given point in time.
And part of that could be their cycle, and I’m going to get hate mail from women when I say that, but our moods fluctuate and that’s not just women. Men’s moods fluctuate, men get angry too. It’s like part of it could be cyclical, it could be just, you had a fight with your wife and you need someone to take it out on. I mean, there’s so many things.
I wonder if there’s ever been a study on that, on negativity associated with time of cycle.
I don’t know, but I mean, we all know… My daughter and I joke about it, it’s like, we know. We’ll come back later and say, “Okay, is it that time of the month? Is it okay?” But we know better than to ever say it at that time of the month. Don’t ever say it then.
Well, and people who don’t believe in PMS don’t have five sisters and three daughters and 14 nieces. It’s like, I’d say exactly the same thing, day four of her cycle and she just thinks it’s funny, and when I say it at day 26, it’s like, “You bastard.”
But do yourself a favor and never say, “It’ll be better in a couple days.” Just don’t ever say that.
Well, thank God it was never a huge problem with you. I write about it in Change Your Brand, Change Your Life.
No, no, no, no. Let’s take that back. I knew. The difference was I was aware that it was me, so I wanted to go away. It’s like, “Let me just be alone for the next-”
And I have treated people who’ve attacked their husbands-
Oh no, no. I withdrew.
… or got suicidal. I mean, it really changes. But the whole point in the internet troll thing is-
You don’t know.
… it may not be about you.
I think it’s always good when you get feedback to assess it, because it may be helpful. It’s like, “Oh, could I do that better?” When we started the podcast together, we’d have some people criticize our interaction. And I think for us, we thought about it and we go, “Well, can we do this better?” And I believe we interrupt each other less than we did before.
Right. And we’re a married couple and this isn’t produced, it’s just our natural interaction. But yes, we always want to listen, but at the same time, ask yourself, am I putting something out there with the intention of triggering people? Or is it something that people are reacting to and there’s really not a good reason? Because some people put stuff out there with the intention of triggering people. You see it all the time. We all do.
Well, because that can drive traffic.
It’s clickbait. Right.
People pay attention to negativity more. So, you always think of, consider the source. The problem on the internet is you don’t know the source. You often don’t know what’s real, what’s not real. And for example, with my TED Talks, they have almost 18 million views and they’re 97% positive. So I feel really good about that, but a lot of people haven’t trained their mind and they look for the ones that are not positive and they let that hurt them. So you want to be careful about that.
So I think a couple things you can do is ground yourself, ask yourself if what they’re saying is true or not. If it’s not true, then just tell yourself it’s more about them than it is about me. And for me, and this is up to you, some people call it censoring. I don’t censor anything that’s just someone’s opinion about something if it’s not hurtful. As long as it’s something that is just opinion or it’s helpful to the rest of my community, it can stay there, I don’t care if they’re agreeing with me, disagreeing with me, doesn’t matter. If it’s just pure vitriol and hate, it goes. It’s my page. If you don’t like it, you can go find another page to follow. If it’s hateful and mean and just not helping the community at all, it needs to be off my page and I block them.
So, boundaries is actually very important. I know you’ve thought about that a lot. So have you been the victim of internet trolls? Don’t take it personally, everybody is the victim of that in the digital age. We know about. Stay true to what you believe, your message. You’ll feel so much better about it. Stay with us.
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