The Sport of Disagreeing

Even in bullfighting, there are rules.  Matadores are expected to follow a strict code of conduct when they engage the bull.  If it were just about killing the bull (or annoying him to death) it wouldn’t be a sport. 

Monomahkos is not going to allow one contributor to slaughter another just because they can.  If your point can’t be made without going for the jugular, make it somewhere else.  Strong disagreement is fine.  It’s welcomed, in fact!  It’s the nasty, pejorative comments I want to avoid.  An old fraternity song I heard back in the 70s comes to mind:  “Mag, Mag, you dirty scag, . . .”  If you have to start out an argument with something like that, your argument is probably not worth making.  Frankly, no one cares about what you think of someone else, even if you state it brilliantly.  It invites retaliation and before you know it, the blog is hijacked by two people who are never going to like each other.  It is uncomfortable to watch and it serves no one.      

Along the same lines, people who delight in annoying others will be discouraged.   A matador can only wave that cape so many times before the bull loses it completely.  If you can’t find some point of agreement, even if it’s once every blue moon, the point becomes about the needling and not about the issue.  Again, no one is served.

I realize we all fail on occasion and I’m no exception.  But for some, this behavior has become their default position so until we get used to “playing nice,” I’m going to be asking our editors to take out offensive comments, replacing them with the following:  [Editor Note: Deleted]  (if they feel so inclined and have the time).  Otherwise, as in the past, your post won’t see the light of day.  I realize some of you won’t like this, but hey, it’s my blog.  It’s unnecessary to insult or annoy others.  I have given my staff carte blanche in making these calls so it will do no good to contact me behind the scenes.  There are too many important things to talk about and I don’t want us to get bogged down in personality conflicts. 

Again, let’s try to love one another.      

Pax vobiscum!


One of my editors brought this article to my attention and I think it’s a good one.  It was written by Robert Greene,  bestselling author of The Laws of Human Nature, The 48 Laws of Power.  (See Excerpts Below)  He asks the question:

“What would happen, however, if we no longer had to recognize limits, or adhere to codes, or face consequences for antisocial behavior? What if we no longer had to feel a sense of shame for being abrasive or abusive? And what if we eliminated the element of people’s’ physical presence that often dissuades us from rude behavior? Those among us who found it hard to regulate themselves and control their toxic tendencies would suddenly have a free hand to indulge in their boundless egotism and social life could turn ugly.

In many ways this is the scenario we face on social media, where there are no real codes or limits to adhere to, little need for self-regulation and no physical presence to contend with. Not only do people not pay any price for rude, toxic behavior, they can find like minded people who also felt pinched and restricted by polite strictures of social life. They can form a kind of self-validating toxic tribe. Allowed to run free on social media, these types can often ruin the experience for the rest of us.”

The 7 Types of Toxic People To Avoid on Social Media 

  1.  The Secret Envier:  “. . . we humans are naturally prone to feel envy; it comes from our perpetual need to compare our status to others. And among those who are particularly insecure, envy can motivate a great deal of their behavior. . . Not only are there no consequences to pay for attacking peers or the successful, secret enviers can gain all kinds of attention in doing so, even making a name for themselves. And often they will find their attacks seconded by a mob of fellow enviers who relish the chance to take down someone powerful. . . We can stop ourselves from taking the bait once we are aware of the nature of the attack. If they are causing actual damage to our name, we can choose to defend ourselves in a polite, and cold manner — pointing out the irrationality of their reasoning, and leaving this as our last word on the matter. If necessary, we can always appear contrite, agree nominally with them, and display some self-deprecating humor, calming and neutralizing their envy. In any event, awareness of what is actually going on is the key to having such options.”
  2. The Passive Aggressor:  “. . .  They are countering our argument, a totally legitimate action, but the manner in which they do so somehow makes a mockery of us and our ideas without really understanding what we’re trying to say. For instance, they use all kinds of loaded words in describing our position — cynical, amoral, anti-progressive, Machiavellian — all the while pretending to argue with us in an objective manner. Their criticisms if looked at closely are vague and insinuating, full of slippery generalizations, which are hard to defend ourselves against. . . Or they extend our argument out to some absurd degree — if we argue that global warming is the greatest menace we face and we must take action against it, they will respond, “I suppose you’ve decided to live in a cave or go back to riding a horse and buggy. . .  we know we’re dealing with passive aggressive types by how infuriating they make us feel and how slippery they are in their tactics. As a cover, they use snark and humor to play to the larger social media audience as if that made their argument better. No matter how hard we try to counter them they get the last word on us, with the equivalent of a passive-aggressive “whatever”.  . .  n real life, people who talk and argue in this manner are quickly shunned — they are too obviously annoying and rude. They alienate people over time. But on social media, no one has to deal with them on a daily basis. They can seem refreshing in their snark and find an audience. . .”
  3. The Intellectual Brawler:  “We find ourselves in discussion or debate with someone who radiates supreme confidence. Their style of writing is so preemptory. Perhaps they make references to notable intellectual heavyweights — Noam Chomsky for instance — as if that sanctified their ideas. Or they back up their authoritative statements with a lot of statistics, studies, famous quotes, in rapid-fire succession — too quick for us to challenge or verify. They use a lot of generalities and jargon — academic, scientific — -that seem to contradict our position. They argue with such conviction and authority that many others are impressed or intimidated, believing they are dealing with a weighty thinker. . .  These brawlers seethe with the awareness the world is yet to recognize their genius. In real life, imposing their views with such authority and vehemence would seem ridiculous — since it is clear they do not occupy any position in life that would warrant such intellectual grandiosity. The discrepancy between their tone and their actual status would be too jarring and laughable. But on social media they can disguise this. If we looked closely at their actual ideas, behind all the bluster, we would see their shoddiness. They bank on intimidating people from doing so with their tone and air of authority. . .”
  4.  The Social Justice Warrior: “. . . We enter into a discussion on any topic — political or not political — and make what we consider to be a rather innocuous or self-evident statement. Then, out of the blue, we come under withering attack from someone who accuses us of brute insensitivity. .  .  they are so hypersensitive to offense that they can discern an insult in almost anything people might say that varies ever so slightly with their rigid dogma. In fact, feeling outraged and offended gives them a kind of secret thrill, a way to vent all their personal resentment and frustration. It can become a kind of outrage addiction. . .  In the real world these types would offend and alienate almost everyone with their righteousness, scolding tone, and moral superiority. But online, backed by a mob of fellow warriors, they can act with relative impunity. Choosing to defend ourselves is often not the wisest action. Once they have labeled us with some negative term, they will find ways to twist whatever we write to fit their interpretation. . .”
  5.  The Contraction:  “At first, this type seems relative amusing. In any discussion they are always the one debunking peoples’ ideas, expressing the opposite of conventional beliefs. Even their sarcasm can seem a bit refreshing. But after a while it becomes apparent that this is all that they have. They simply like to be against everything, and stir up antagonism. They have a nose for smelling any inconsistencies in our argument and inflating them out of proportion. They have no real values or ideas of their own. And they mistake this spirit of snark and contradiction for intelligence. . .”
  6.  The Attention Whore:  “. . . They are always putting up quotes that promote a positive attitude and spiritual values, and doling out advice. They may also post provocative videos and images that make them seem so original and bold. . .  The reality is that we are dealing with a deep narcissist (see chapter 2 in The Laws of Human Nature for more on this). They have an inner emptiness and constant need for validation and recognition that must be continually filled by drawing attention from a mass of followers (even if they have to buy some friends and followers to pad their numbers). In real life, we quickly see through such types as frauds — they have not accomplished what they boast about; they merely dabble in ventures; they are just as banal and unhappy as everyone else, hardly spiritual. . .
  7.  The Nihilist Troll:  “. . . The Nihilistic Troll resembles the spirit we find in certain adolescent males –feeling deep down quite small and insecure, they compensate for this by seeking to hurt people and destroy everything of value. This is their way to get attention and feel larger. It is the only form of power they can have, and it provides them a perverse thrill to rile people up and even trigger their hatred, which they become good at. . .”



About GShep


  1. Constantinos says

    Do you know what is especially interesting about this article? For the most part, Robert Greene’s books are considered amoral. They have a Macchiavelian quality to them. Now, there are some helpful things in The 48 Laws of Power, particularly the avoidance of toxic people. His Art of Seduction is really good if your goal is to pick up women using brutal techniques. I’ve read his books, and I think it is best for a Christian to steer clear of them. However bullying should never be acceptable form of social behavior. There is a great deal of bullying on this forum. If someone is to criticize certain things about Orthodoxy, what’s wrong with that? You grow through outside ideas. You grow from thinking outside the box. As Robert Kennedy said, ” Some men see things, and ask why? I dream things that never were, and ask why not? One basic point is this: take Robert Greene’s books with a grain of salt.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Costa, believe it or not, I first heard about that book (Greene’s) while in Russia last year. A Russian acquaintance (whose name I cannot remember) told us about it as we were eating our lunch. I believe it was at Sergeiev Posad but I’m not sure.

      Regardless, there’s wisdom everywhere to be had but it’s important to be discerning. I can see your concerns re Greene’s book especially however his observations regarding different types of toxic personalities is valid in my opinion. I hope you understand.

      Now, if we really want to warn people of books to stay away from I would recommend that people steer way clear of Marianne Williamson’s books and writings as well. Witchery.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Costa asks, “If someone is to criticize certain things about Orthodoxy, what’s wrong with that?”

      I’m guessing 95+% of the readers on this site are Orthodox.  We give you a pass to say the outrageous things you do because of our affection for you but out of respect for us, your Monomahkos friends, would you please give it a rest?  The Church is our family, Costa.  If we insulted your family, it would bother you, too. There is a huge difference between talking among ourselves and someone coming in from the outside trashing the Church! We get it. It’s not for you. You are free to move on. Go in peace.            

      • God bless you beloved Sister in Christ!

      • George Michalopulos says

        Michael, can you demonstrate where Gail said these things or is associated with these sentiments?  Or sympathetic to them? My remembrance is that they came from another source and yes, Gail and other women on this blog chose to remain and fight these arguments rather than just up and leave.  

        In any event, like most people on this blog, I can’t ever remember her saying anything defamatory.  

      • Michael Bauman says

        George, Gail and others: There are at least three different Michaels posting here. Me, Michael Stankovich and one who posts simply as Michael, known by me as Michael NLN (no last name). I ask a favor for the sake of my sanity, when replying please use a complete identifier. Michael S., Michael B. or Michael would be my suggestion. I know it is an imposition but it is particularly helpful to me if one is being critical of some post or another.

        Thank you.

      • Costa says: “The irony is that the Orthodox freely go on all Catholic forums when the subject is the Papacy, and freely trash the Pope with no repercussions or censorship, whereas, you go on Orthodox forums, and there is always censorship.”
        Your comment cannot be further from the truth. There is very little censorship on this blog and others like it.
        Years ago, I was a Catholic posting frequently on the “Catholic Answers” forum. I converted to Holy Orthodoxy and began posting apologetics defending the Holy Orthodox Church. I was promptly banned for life. Go figure.

  2. GL Farmer says

    I tend toward free speech, but I’m not an absolutist. I’m okay with places like Voat existing, but I don’t participate there. I don’t want to hang out with either the PC police or the edgelord trolls.

  3. Joseph A. says

    I just want to know the accompanying tune to, “Mag, Mag, you dirty scag.” Sounds promising . . .

  4. Wow, talk about getting bogged down in personality conflicts.