Guerrilla Psychological Operations

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

My foray into political debate during the 2016 election. How I irrevocably destroyed an internet chat-room.

Submitted: September 17, 2017

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Submitted: September 17, 2017



During the 2016 presidential election, there was an incredible display of mass hysteria and division within our society. On both the left and the right. It was frankly, quite disturbing. I don't claim to be above it all, either. It swept me up in its whirlwind just the same as it did so many others. My will, my own rationality, seemed to adapt itself to best serve the group I identified with. 

I felt a sense of duty towards my society, an obligation to protect my herd from what seemed to be impending disaster. A lot of people, on both the left and the right, probably felt the exact same way. Those of us who do, will subconsciously choose some sort of way to serve our group. As someone who had studied up on a lot of different issues, feeling like I've got a way with words, an understanding of crowds, joining the online chat room debates seemed like a reasonable place to put my effort. 
One of my major focuses was a left leaning alternative news platform,  a fairy popular one. During their live shows, sometimes there would be upwards of 20,000 people. On the off-hours, they still hosted a 24/7 repeat of the show, and generally between 200 and 600 people would be there. Most of them confessed to not really watching the show during this time, and the dialogue often descended into general political discussion.
Now, as the majority of people who spend any sort of time on the internet have probably noticed, most places tend to become an echo chamber of whatever beliefs the general herd holds dear. Eco-warriors don't usually tolerate having around a sport hunter espousing the beauties of a 500m head-shot, for example. If someone like that came in to one of their forums or chat-rooms, they'd be shouted down until they left, if not outright banned immediately. The same is true for any group. Conservative Trump supporting Christians, Communists, Bernie Supporters, Black Lives Matter, even mundane things like bird watchers or bicycling groups. If your views are dissenting enough, the herd will usually shout you down until you leave. Or, at the very least, ignore/ridicule you until you get bored and go away.
Anyway, the point of all that is to explain this far left leaning media platform was a serious echo chamber. Coming from the right wing, I decided to see how far towards the right this chat-room could be pushed, if at all. As a secondary objective, if you can disrupt the general communications of your enemy, it hinders their ability to organize. We've seen plenty of examples of this during the Arab Spring, where governments would shut down twitter, the herds main source of widespread communications, attempting to disrupt their ability to organize. Because of how large and meaningful this platform was to the left, it was a pretty ambitious project, reflecting back. 
On to the meat of things. The actual applications and results of my time and energy.
It started off extremely rough, basically. Exactly what was expected from someone coming in and espousing wildly dissenting opinions. Every name you could possibly think of, all sorts of wild accusations about my personal character, death threats. Pure RAGE. It was remarkable, honestly. Almost as if I was the devil himself, at that moment. 
At first, I remained relatively polite. Respectful. Not responding in kind, merely pointing out the various hypocrisies in their belief system. How the way they judge all Trump Supporters, was similar to the way all racists judged black folks as a singular group. How Bill Clinton was a proven sexual deviant, a suspected sexual predator, and yet Trump is considered an evil misogynist for his "Grab women by the pussy" comment. Explaining that if a worker only produces 10 dollars an hour of value for a company, with his labor, they can't afford to pay him 15 dollars an hour, the job will just go away or get automated. Many different things. 

This seemed to have an effect on some people, but moreso was my attempt to establish a sense of moral superiority. Rallying the opposing herd into a state of hatred, allowed me to generate examples of their moral similarity to those they looked on as less, while I myself appeared to rise above the personal attacks.

Overall though, with the rapid pace of chat movements, things of this nature began to lose traction. There was no novelty in it, for the crowd. No sport. This is an online mob, with the same general thirst for verbal violence that you see in physical mobs of people. 
I changed tactics and decided to give them what they wanted. Absolutely brutal personal attacks. Extremely insightful analysis of peoples personalities. I've always had a way of inferring things about peoples psychological states, based on how they type. The way they phrase things, the way they seem to relate to the world and their ideas, the general vocabulary of a person, the speed of responses, many other things, when taken in their entirety can paint a fairly elaborate picture of someones mental state. It almost appears supernatural to the outsider, when applied to the real world. Like I'm some sort of psychic. It doesn't work if you're not right, but if you can do created sort of a mythical quality to my online personality. 
Its important to understand the effects of shame and embarassment on people. Those feelings come from an understanding of how you or your actions are viewed by the herd. Deviant behavior creates shame, a negative emotion, because if your behavior is deviant enough, you risk excommunication from the herd in general. From an evolutionary perspective, this would mean genetic death or literal death in most cases, banishment. 
It almost becomes a survival instinct, to avoid this sort of shame. I became dangerous, basically, to disagree with. I would openly challenge anyone with a viewpoint that was too far dissenting from the new environment I was trying to enforce. I became the alpha male, the dominant force, a conqueror in their minds, a hostile occupier of their space. People began to slowly adapt. Their viewpoints might not have changed much at first, but the general tone and culture of the chatroom did. People began to subconsciously censor themselves based upon MY viewpoints. Quite a fascinating phenomenon, honestly. 
Over the course of the next few months, the off hours chatroom became a haven of right wing trolls. My people. It required an understanding of the general feelings of the herd, an understanding of their viewpoints. Even though people were afraid to openly disagree with me after a while, that didn't mean they actually AGREED with me, though. I had achieved my secondary objective of removing this as a place to congregate, but perhaps not the first, of changing minds.

To do this requires a degree of finesse. You can't change things too far, too fast. People won't accept a radically different belief. But, if you can incrementally shift their positions, eventually they will have moved the same distance, although it obviously takes time. You can see examples of this all throughout our society, the slow molding of public opinions through incrementalism. Or to put it more simply, people rarely go from YES to NO. They will often go from YES to MAYBE to NO though, and visa versa. 
To sum it up, establish your moral credibility, and make yourself appear to be someone that can lead to the excommunication of people from the group, even if its not true. They just need to feel that way, to feel shame, embarassment. To this day, the chatroom is STILL dominated by right wing trolls. It has been forever ruined as the lefty echo chamber that it once was. 
On a completely unrelated side note...have you checked out the Young Turks youtube channel livestream lately? It sure is right leaning for a radically left political channel. 
On a related side note, I'm no longer blindly a Trump supporter, and have serious reservations about his Military adventurist spirit, and his desire for an expanded police state back home. Terrible stuff. 

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