"Usually it doesn't matter until it happens to you.
At which time it becomes a crisis."
Can YOU identify unhealthy internet people
before they strike?
COME SHARE MY SUPER SNIFFER
One thing I've learned in the past few years is an education in dangerous personalities. After becoming a public figure, I found my typically very quiet, vanilla life suddenly hit by a string of unhealthy people, one after the other. I became a tool for them to latch onto to push themselves forward.
After multiple unhealthy experiences and reading close to 40 books on the topic, I went from having weak radar and trusting everyone to having a Super Sniffer, my "Wonder Weeder." And now if you want my trust, it will have to be earned as trust should be.
While most sites warn us about unhealthy personalities with regard to romantic relationships, none of my unhealthy people were romantic relationships. But all of them were connections made through the internet. So the internet is where I consider my education in spotting unhealthy people is strongest. The smoke and mirrors of the internet can hide many things, so most people may think unhealthy people cannot be identified by their written text on the internet. But they most certainly can in many cases. They can be uncovered if you know what to look for and what the red flags are...even before the trouble starts.
I've been a good student and have paid attention because I don't want it to happen to me again. I've come a long way and am proud of my growth, and now I can smell them a mile away on the internet. It comes down to sheerpaying attentionand knowing the signs.
I would like to share with you what I've learned so that you, too, can protect yourself. Many of these red flags apply to "off the internet" behavior as well. May knowing them serve you well.
Here Are 15 Signs of Unhealthy Internet People
1.) They always talk about themselves.
Watch how often the topic returns to them. They are their favorite topic.
Count the "I" and "me" statements they make; you will be surprised if you pay attention. Compare this to normal discourse from other people around them.
Please tell us again: How wonderful are you? They will be sure you don't miss their wonderfulness. The bullhorn mentality will be sure everyone is aware and in wonderment.
This is a very clear red flag that most people ignore, yet it is actually quite an easy one to spot and the first one I notice. From there, check to see if other red flags (below) follow.
Unhealthy people live in a completely self-centered universe.
2.) Love Bombing (baiting)
Beware. Trouble doesn't enter bearing weapons. Instead, it comes sending hearts to your private message box.
Love bombing is likely the hardest symptom for people to catch, yet one of the most important ones to see first. Why is it so hard to see? Well....after all, who doesn't like to be told they are amazing?
This is a powerful tool of manipulation to make you feel important, and for the unhealthy person to align themselves with you.
You barely know them but they express how much they love you, how different you are, gush-gush-gush <3 <3 <3 hearts in your private messages..... they seem ohhh, so NICE! Perhaps just overly friendly? "Overly" is the operative word.
Love bombing is hard to recognize if you've not been through it before, as it is false charm that feels very real. Having been through it several times now, it has become easy for me to differentiate what is a normal compliment, and what is over-the-top love-bombing, a strategy to bait a victim. Unfortunately, most people will say, "but s/he was sooooo nice." They don't stop to compare the difference.
The unhealthy person may say "No one understands me like you do!"
"No one is as talented as you!"
"You are the best _______ ever!"
"You and I are the only ones who ____________."
You'll probably do silly things like have your own friendship song, or private jokes in no time flat.
If you feel you have never felt so special before, step back. My rule of thumb is that whether it is a gushing compliment or a rude criticism -- it usually has less to do with me than the person giving it.
People often love the jokes, the electric charm, the heady feeling of being a part of something special. This tricks them into overlooking the danger signs.
It is the love bombing that allows them to camouflage quickly into normal society. But it is actually a highlighted give-away most people ignore. Pay attention.
Unhealthy people will charm you, and you may not see it coming.
Have you ever seen the lure of the Angler Fish? If so....you will understand the concept of "beauty baiting" and its purpose. What is the Angler Fish? "It lives in total darkness." Its light has a purpose....
If they are the latest, greatest, most famous, biggest, richest.....and you've not heard of them before....chances are no one else has, either. It's a facade.
Claims to be rich and busy....but are constantly fluffing around on the internet.
If they have to brag about who/what they are, clearly others aren't.
Celebrity "this-or-that" statements are *very* often fabricated.
In addition to the ego bullhorn, they also outright lie about other things that elevate their sense of grandiosity.They are very impulsive in what they say and do and they don't seem to own a personal speech or behavior filter.
Part of the impulsivity is the need to lie to elevate themselves, or the need to lie to take down another person they find to be a threat.
They claim to be the great "truth tellers," and yet everything they say is riddled with lies. Ignore the word "truth" and heed inconsistencies.
Their magnificent credentials are usually completely fabricated. Ask for proof when needed for business relationships.
Unhealthy adults lie.
4.) The individual latches onto you VERY hard and very quickly.
This coincides with the Love Bombing.
You are suddenly best friends. Or you must get into a business venture together.
They may want to do something together. It is worded to sound like it is for YOUR benefit.
They depend on the reputations of others to elevate their status, attention, and finances.
You will get constant attention (what is really happening is that THEY need constant attention and you are a source of its supply).
They expect a lot in a little time, and they camouflage it as if they are doing you the favor.
When they offer of something of value to you, it can be compared to the man in the van with tinted windows who tells children on the playground he has a puppy....but this has nothing to do with the puppy and everything to do with what the predator has to gain. It looks tempting when offered. It's the "goodness" of it that is the lure. But guess what? For adults, the lure isn't a puppy. It's something enticing that you want. What would most lure you? A compliment? A business promotion, boost, sale, or exposure? Special knowledge? Attention? Feeling admired? Rescuing someone?
Unhealthy people will use you (even if it hurts you).
5.) They demand an unusual amount of your time, attention, and expect quick replies.
If you don't respond within the hour, you may feel them getting agitated.
Some people confuse this constant flow of attention with being needed, loved, and attended to.
This has nothing to do with them liking you; this has to do with them needing attention sustenance, and stems from a need for constant attention.
They expect Skype calls, phone calls, emails, and messages. Frequently.
They are intense, may seem manic or overly nice, talk fast.
Unhealthy people will drain you.
6.) Always picking on people.
They may claim it's in jest, as an excuse for their nastiness.
The nit-picking may eventually direct toward you. If you question a jab, clearly you did not understand "the joke."
Part of how they elevate how wonderful they are is by telling you how "not wonderful" other people are. The put-downs are part of their personal pedastal.
If they are with you and the time they spend with you is to pick on people and take people down, see the red flag.
Negativity is not always visible at first. I know one seemingly positive woman who asked to call me on the phone, though I barely knew her. This only time she shared space with me was to say toxic things and turn me against people she didn't like at the moment. When she found me at a conference, she used the few minutes shared with me to defile two well-known names, one which promoted her at the very conference she was at, and asked me what I thought. Ironically, she doesn't write anything on her page that is "negative." It is all done through this background "negative networking."
Note: Never respond negatively to them unless you want your words shared with everyone. Your words will become ammunition used against you. I can't tell you how often I have seen this happen to people. It becomes part of the "Divide and Conquer" tactic, number 7, below).
If you defend yourself, they may turn things against you and make you look like you're crazy for thinking something is wrong, clearly you must be over-sensitive. You know when something is happening; don't let their crazy-making denials turn their stuff onto you.
While they will give false glowing reviews to those they like (to bait people as part of the love-bombing), they will also rescind the review later when they turn on you, saying they should have said what they "really" thought the first time. Likewise, they will give false negative reviews against people they don't like. This is just another form of character defamation. It has nothing to do with the product; it is the "person" they are reviewing, based on what their current goals may be (are they trying to suck you in our push you out?). These are not legitimate reviews.
If you see someone getting picked on... PLEASE stand up for the victim. If you can't do it in public, send them a private message of support.
Unhealthy people will defame others.
7.) "Divide and Conquer."
Many of the lies they tell are to oust a person who has caught onto their lies or to cast out a person who they feel is a threat to them or getting more attention than them. If they can get you to dislike that person and ostracize them, they are safe, as is their charade. Plus, bonus points for hurting the person they want to ruin.
I am convinced that if these people did not infiltrate our communities, more people would like each other.
They go behind everyone's back, pitting people against each other, and usually there are ice cubes of truth mixed with glaciers of lies.
They will disrupt a forum, pick and choose people and pit then against each other...when all along it is they who are the enemy.
They love starting fights between people, planting a seed and watching the implosion.
Unhealthy people create drama and conflict where there is none.
8.) Actions and words are in conflict.
You start to notice that things they say don't agree with something they said before.
Something they claim seems impossible to be true.
They tell different people different things.
They have the "latest greatest" upcoming thing or a promise that never seems to happen (a forward-thinking lie).
They are the most famous "whatever," but are never off the internet and never seem to be working.
They may claim the impossible, to have something of incredible worth....and of course, they cannot produce proof. It doesn't exist. But they are great at distraction when you ask for proof. What you see and what they say won't be the same. Trust what you see.
You'll see actions that may seem out of line with what they claim.
When it comes to measuring words against actions, actions are the more reliable source.
Unhealthy people should be watched for what they DO, not what they say.
9.) Always putting out a fire.
There is drama where ever they go. This is no coincidence.
The constant sh*t stirring is a big red flag, and an easy one to spot if you follow them enough.
In forums, they are always either booted or causing issues. So they often start their own groups, gleaning members off of the existing groups.
Because they have love-bombed people and now have willing sycophants, they can convince people any forum gaffes weren't possibly their fault, or that they were misunderstood.
Usually they claim to be the "victim," but they actually are the one that descend on people and singlehandedly stir the sh*t.
ONE unhealthy person can destroy a perfectly peaceful community.
Unhealthy people create conflict for excitement and attention.
10.) Always playing victim.
They are masters of whining, acting, and complaining. Some do this in public, others reserve this for the behind-the-scenes divide-and-conquer strategies.
The victim archetype is pervasive. Empaths fall hard for this ploy.
They claim other people are always doing things to them.
Either they are always blaming (never their fault), or always apologizing (fauxplogies). But the apologies do not serve the purpose of regret and change, which is what the person receiving the apology assumes. Rather, it is to allow them back in to continue where they left off so they can continue the ruse. The honeymoon after an apology usually lasts no more than two weeks.
If they've apologized more than once, or if you've seen them show patterns of trouble, maybe you should follow Maya Angelou's advice: "When People Show You Who They Are, Believe Them." The first time is always a good place to start...pay attention.
Unhealthy people self-sabotage and then claim victim.
11.) They never provide legitimate proof.
They claim to have something of extreme value, or know that someone is doing something really bad. But they cannot prove it, just trust them.
I am convinced that if people only asked for the right information, their lies would be uncovered quite easily.
Thinking back on my own relationships with unhealthy people, it becomes clear afterward the couple of questions that I could have asked, very easy questions, that would have uncovered the facade.
It isn't rude to ask for proof of something....ask if you feel you need to see something first-hand. If they go off the handle saying you don't trust them...this is a huge red flag in itself. Do NOT turn this in on yourself by questioning your manners...this is their issue. Don't walk away: RUN.
They are actually good at distracting you from asking for proof or avoiding being available to provide it. If they make claims, find out PROOF. Their words are not proof. "Trust me" is not proof. Trust is earned, not a given.
Unhealthy people can't provide legitimate proof.
12.) Dismiss others' problems, but bring extreme attention to their own.
This will be harder to see in the love-bombing phase, because your problems become the means to their love-material at the outset. So in the outset, your problems become a big source of attention for you. This will change.
If someone has a problem, they hijack it with their own "similar" problems (but much bigger and more dramatic, of course). They are baiting you in. There is nothing that bonds people faster than a shared enemy. And they know this tactic well.
If you have a problem, in the beginning they will latch onto this and make it a big thing to get your attention. However, once they are comfortable with you, if you have a problem, it is quickly dismissed in favor of their own issues. You may find yourself feeling unheard or emotionally ignored.
They usually change their name often and have several aliases.
This is harder to catch, but be aware that these people usually come under the guise of multiple names, accounts, and websites. All are back-up plans for when their primary false name takes a hit. And they use them well.
Often their back-up accounts are used to protect their main false account, posting comments by the alias about how wonderful their main persona is (talking about themselves through a pretend account) and I have even seen them interview themselves under false names, hiring the main name as their "Chief something-or-other" or "Celebrity whatever."
I've watched false accounts tweet on Twitter to the unhealthy person's unknowing cohost, saying, "I heard you last night and you have great chemistry!" Yes, he was talking about himself from the false account. It's all part of the bogus charade.
Multiple websites are often kept under multiple names. Usually meant to pull in people to work for them. A little sleuthing can often reveal the true website owner.
If an unknown person steps in out of nowhere to defend them...suspect a fake account. They use a lot of energy to create a false environment to make their ruse believable.
Some fake accounts are used to allow them secret access to groups or friend pages from which they've been banned.
Unhealthy people have fake accounts.
14.) They become offended if you cannot be manipulated.
Insults like, "Gee, I never knew you were that stupid/naive" may become a part of their vocabulary.
They may threaten to unfriend you if you do not come over to "their side."
It is important to know this difference: HEALTHY people can and will unfriend other people when they see unsavory things happen. But you should not be expected to unfriend someone because someone else demands it "or else."
Unhealthy people expect you to be manipulated.
15.) They project their mistakes onto others
What they complain others are doing, they are doing.
If you see them saying you are plagiarizing their work and you are not, trust that they are plagiarizing your work or someone else's work.
If they are bullying, they will call you a bully.
This is again something most people don't see, but know that if it happens to you and you find yourself confused by it, they are dumping their unhealthy actions onto you.
Unhealthy people project their problems onto others to make it look like it is someone else doing what they do most.
Not all unhealthy people will show all the above red flags, but many will show most of them.
What if you think you're doing any of these?
Keep in mind that if you find yourself in the throes of an unhealthy person, you may wonder if you are doing some of the above back to them in an act of self preservation. For example, if you have been attacked and are wondering about whether you are defaming someone if you are warning others about them lying, and you find yourself sharing how they are attacking people, know that you are coming from a different place. They are taking you down with lies to protect their lies and get attention and to separate people who won't become their sycophants. YOU are telling others your true experience to protect the person you are speaking with or protect your reputation.
If you worry you might be an unhealthy person because you have done one or two of these, assess what you're doing and make it right. Chances are you are fine, as truly unhealthy people will instead read this and get pissed off. They feel entitled. In their world, it is never them who has the problem.
But don't be a doormat. Should you need to speak out, then say your piece, provide proof, speak without exaggeration or lies, and refrain from drama and attention-seeking, which cause situations to escalate, distort, and become negative rather than healing or warning. Being a doormat does NOT make you any more spiritual and will not help you on your course. Speak your truth in your own voice, but know your purpose and your goals in using your voice.
I've come to learn that when someone says, "I'm not lying!" That I either already have proof that they are, or want to see it and have the right to ask for it.
Remember...it all starts with the charm.The happy light.