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a blog by Chris Barrow

The Sociomediapath

It seems that the new age of internet communication has created an equally new phenomenon – the social media sociopath. Let’s invent a new term for this – the sociomediapath. The sociomediapath begins his/her infiltration slowly and with some intelligence – adding comments to threads that can be supportive, oppositional or inquisitive, apparently with the intention of informed debate. Friendships are cultivated, groups joined and views expressed, with the camouflage of humour and good intent. However, once established, the sociomediapath moves with great stealth and cunning as it invideously becomes apparent that your social media channels are being used as a vehicle for them to feed a deep-rooted physcological disorder, indicative of self-loathing, a sense of personal failure, envy of the success of others and aggressive suspicion of anything that does not fit their world view. At first, their outbursts are strangely fascinating – like the lunatics in Old Bedlam or the auditioners at The X-Factor – we cannot resist wondering what they will do next. We laugh at their antics, even though we are embarrassed with ourselves and know that ‘we ought to know better’. Slowly, the realisation dawns that we have allowed into our lives an unpredictable character who may well end up as a verbal ‘bunny-boiler’ – and so it goes… Once discovered, they can behave in an emotionally unpredictable, ethically unbalanced, shockingly unprofessional way – steering debates to which they are invited into a personal vendetta against those who have historically spurned them and any who dare to oppose their rants, vents and outbursts. To engage in debate brings violent disagreement and personal attack. To defend their ‘targets’ brings accusations of sycophancy. To agree is to be unwittingly enrolled in their game-play. To argue is futile. There is ONLY one weapon in your armory against the sociomediapath – absolute silence. When they realise that they lack a voice – they become incandescent and slip over into lies, rumour and conspiracy. They trawl your social media broadcasts, like a naughty child locked out of the playroom – nose against the virtual window, shouting at the top of their voice but unheard on the side where the normal folks are in conversation. They infiltrate other social media groups to drag threads in the direction of their angst – teasing out the unsuspecting into conversations that suddenly give them a stage for a brief moment of self-fulfillment. Block them and you are accused of restricting free speech or exercising censorship. Comment and you feed them (and I appreciate the irony of this post in that context). Respond and they are delighted – feeling that they have ‘rattled your cage’ – and, like pigs in shit, they love both the smell and the sensation of rolling around. The sociomediapath is a sign of modern times – the internet has given them a voice, when before they led their lives of quiet desperation. They take no prisoners, they know no boundaries, they cannot be helped by you, but they can hurt you. You engage with them at your peril. My advice – don’t confuse free speech with letting sociomediapaths use your conversations to conduct their verbal terrorism. Block them from all your social media platforms and advise your friends to do the same. Don’t give their ultimately pathetic flame the oxygen with which to burn. P.S. Why then write this post? Because it might help others to understand when they are being beguiled by the serpent. Because I hate injustice in any of its guises, especially when bad things are said in public about my friends.

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