22 January 2010

Interview with a Misery Vampire: Part 2

One of the dangers of encountering a Misery Vampire is not so much how they can change your life, but how much you can change it yourself if you decide to stand up to them. 

When one of their number chose me as a victim, it was the realization that I was changing myself and that I was about to step outside of my own moral code that shook me the most.  Thankfully, realizing that such a change was happening allowed me to take stock and stop those changes and in the end I think that might have saved someone's life while also saving myself from becoming something terrible.

Generally I'm not a violent person probably because I'm terrible at it, but more importantly I like to think that I'm a pretty easy going kind of person on the whole, "live and let live" and all that jazz. But thanks indirectly to the actions of a Misery Vampire I found myself consorting with people who had violence and even murder on their minds.  Without thinking about the consequences of my actions I was helping them to track down someone who although obviously obnoxious, arrogant, annoying, provocative, selfish, spiteful and maybe even sick in the head… was at the end of the day, just another human being.  Here I was on the verge of conspiring, aiding and abetting and assisting in a chain of events that could have ended in the crime of murder. 

It hadn't quite got to that point, but it was defiantly heading that way.  Luckily I realized what was transpiring in time before things could go too far and so I managed to stop that chain of events from continuing down its logical path.  I pulled the plug on the network.  I took a step back and had a long, hard think.

Now I know what you're thinking.  I know because during the year that the Misery Vampire was rocking my particular apple cart, I heard the same piece of advice from dozens of people… "The best way to deal with people like that is just to ignore them".  This may very well be valuable piece of advice if I had been dealing with a simple case of online Trolling or basic harassment… but that was not what I was having to deal with.  You see a Misery Vampire is a whole different breed of pest to those known as "Trolls".  I'm not going to go into great detail about what he did, but suffice to say that his efforts were pretty much a proactive attempt to destroy something that I'd poured hundreds of hours into creating, he was hell bent on bringing down and utterly destroying something that I (and may others) had spent well over a year working together on and something for which we had many long term plans.  Those plans and everything that I and the others involved had worked for would quite simply be utterly ruined if I had taken the advice and simply ignored him.  Ignoring him was not an option, it would have been like trying to ignore a bulldozer knocking down your house in an effort to make it go away.  It would have been like standing in middle of the train tracks and ignoring the onrushing train in an effort to make it stop. 

He was relentless and cunning in his methods and deceptiveness.  He had subordinates that were carrying out his commands.  He used dozens and dozens of aliases, fake and stolen identities to execute his sustained attacks.  He got into peoples heads through deception and used their own good nature against them.  He preyed on the weak and turned them into his puppets.  He is quite possibly the closest thing to the incarnation of  destructive, sociopathic evil that I have ever encountered. 

Another suggestion made by many was also a non starter, "Get law enforcement involved… call the cops on him" and believe me that I and others tried.  But even though he was guilty of online harassment, copyright and identity theft, personal deformation and business slander, prosecuting any of these crimes across international borders is both difficult and expensive… as part of my efforts to deal with the situation I consulted a very good lawyer friend of mine who laid out the reality (and futility) of the legal situation for me. 

There was very little that could be done.  Contacting the social network providers and seeing if they could block him or stop him also turned out to be completely useless as well.  I lost a great deal of faith and respect for them based on their paltry efforts to curb his activities.  No, ignoring him was not going to work and any legal method of dealing with him had proven to be completely impotent.  There remained only two options; take the law into my own hands or let him win, let him destroy something that I'd poured a lot of time, effort and money into.

Initially I chose the former of these two options and started gathering information and collecting together the group of people who would ultimately lead to the position where I could if I so wished, strike down with great vengeance and furious anger upon my foe.  I started to feel smug and superior as the net of my weaving closed around my antagonist.  I started to relish thinking about the moment when he realized that he'd taken a step too far, that he'd been outmatched, that he had in fact totally misjudged the peril he'd exposed himself to.

It was only once I'd reached this point that I realized I had to stop…I stopped pursuing this course of action, because I realized he'd already won. His intentions to destroy me had almost worked, he'd almost brought about a change in me so profound that I'd started to think in ways that made me like him, and almost made me forget who I was.

He had turned me into someone else… into someone consumed by spite and hate and anger.  Someone who was on course to being literally a heart's beat away from murder by proxy… so I stopped and I stepped back and let him have his victory.  I stopped all communication with the network of people that were reaching out across the world towards his front door.  I shut down the project that he wanted to destroy.  I pulled down the shutters and I locked up the door and I walked away.  It was the only thing I could do.

I don't want to be like Scott.  I don't ever want to hate someone so much that what almost happened could happen again.  If letting him win his little battle is the price I must pay to prevent that, then so be it.  If allowing the bad guy to think he was right and to let him believe he has triumphed is what is needed to save myself from becoming a bad guy as well, then I have no choice but to do so.

And in the end I think I made the right choice.  The work that I had lost was a small price to pay for what I had saved… I'd saved myself.  Walking away was not easy, as I mentioned a lot of love and effort had gone into that which the Misery Vampire was trying to destroy, but to carry the Vampire metaphor through… the moment I found myself standing over his coffin, his vulnerable supine body laid out before me, the hard wooden stake of vengeance and the heavy mallet of anger in hand… I realized it was far  better to simply lock the coffin and throw away the key… than to drive my point home with violence.