Amen. And I agree Ed.
I have been on this forum for 6 months now. And i have been fairly involved. I have had opportunities God graciously provided where I was able to tame some situations among members. In other cases I found it necessary to flag every comment made after me. I have become fairly familiar what various types of trolls look like and come at us like. In my history beyond this forum, I have actually been able to turn trolls into conversations. I realize that is not the focus of our forum. I just mention it because I do try and look at things objectively. But I also realize it can be rather subjective in many cases. As I look back at some of my own posts here on this forum (and certainly prior to or other than) I can see times too when how I responded was less than helpful (seeing this after the fact).
To some of us the threshold of when someone evidently reveals themselves as a troll or trollish can differ. We can see something we don’t agree with and potentially label it the dark side and that conversation is over. Or it may be that someone has a chip on shoulder and is immature and not aware of it so much…and it could look just like a troll. But could be helped by love. I think this would have to be obviously on an individual basis…and that individual basis may not assimilate well with group think. It is good also as maturing Christians to be aware of that social dynamic, I believe, too.
From my experience if someone is stuck on insulting or cant give recognition to an alternative idea as having merit at all…those to me are the two biggest symptoms of the atypical troll. And then there are stubborn people (where we may all have a little of that), that look just that same as a troll…but actually mean well but are just radically different. If someone comes across routinely hurtful or spams an idea without reasonable discourse, I would not care if they were a troll, or wolf, or having a bad month. It registers the same as a problematic individual that is not interested in the benefits of this forum.
Although I understand the analogy of Christ and the wilderness temptations, I have seldom ever run into a situation I can remember where that was ever the case. I understand each of our experiences will be different. But over time I have had a deeper interest in the social dynamic than perhaps some and mostly end things cordially where there are problems, or realize that person is not able to relate at all and it would be doing them a disservice to call them into a conversation they are not equipped for.
When ever I run into the devil in the wilderness, I tend to stand them down if possible. I have debated many Calvinists and I have seen extremely rough and tense debate waters that were very challenging. But I am kind of into that sort of thing…and likely most are not…granted. I bring it up though because I am speaking from quite a range of experience if nothing else. And in the Calvinist debate case, they are often surprised at how cordial and respectful I am with them because most that debate them will be harsh and throw labels almost immediately.
I apologize if this sound self congratulatory. I mean to say these things to point out something I hope is helpful to consider. And it is more than just opinion. At least in the sense that there is a lot of trail and error over years of putting myself in tense situations to navigate many uncharted online waters. A realistic potential is that 95% of those we would look at as Satan in the wilderness are either unbelievers that could be in the perfect place to have a seed planted by us, or are immature believers that also need a seed planted by us. I don’t advocate for anyone to put themselves out there unreasonably. We all have different comfort levels or levels of tolerance too. What I have sincerely noticed over the years is that we live in a day and age where pushing labels is an epidemic and and pandemic and like the vaccine sheds itself onto others too. That is our social dynamic. I think that moderators set an awesome example in leads toward tolerance vs. folly. But please keep in mind (at least from what I have seen out there in the streets) we can’t change peoples lives or minds. But we never know how God might use us. And when looking at this issue I honestly believe erring is most reasonable leaning toward James 2:12-13
“So speak, and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of freedom. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy [i]triumphs over judgment.”
For what its worth. thanks for reading…blessings.