In a world of fake news, empty virtue signaling, reactive moral outrage, gaslighting is a frequent occurrence. Gaslighting is a form of persistent manipulation and brainwashing that causes the victim to doubt her or himself, and ultimately lose her or his own sense of perception, confidence and worth.
In its milder forms, gaslighting creates a subtle, but inequitable, power dynamic in a relationship, with the gaslightee subjected to the gaslighter’s double standard demands rather than fact-based, evidence based discussions. At its worst, pathological gaslighting constitutes a severe form of mind-control and psychological abuse.
Gaslighting can happen through online astroturfing by bots or paid members of a movement, interpersonally in a relationship, within a community, in a cult, anywhere from anyone. In the social media age, where many can hide behind fake profiles, joined by real people who have been first gaslighted then recruited into a cult-like atmosphere where dissent is seen as disloyalty, punished as such.
We are gaslighted everyday.
Astroturfing is the attempt to create an impression of widespread grassroots support for a policy, individual, or product, where little such support exists. Multiple online identities and fake pressure groups are used to mislead the public into believing that the position of the astroturfer is the commonly held view.
As reported by the Guardian, some big companies now use sophisticated "persona management software" to create armies of virtual astroturfers, complete with fake IP addresses, non-political interests and online histories. Authentic-looking profiles are generated automatically and developed for months or years before being brought into use for a political or corporate campaign. As the software improves, these astroturf armies will become increasingly difficult to spot, and the future of open debate online could become increasingly perilous.
How to Spot Gaslighting?
Take It Out Of Context, Lie, Dramatise & Exaggerate. By putting you on the defensive, a gaslighter wants to take control of the narrative, they come with preconceived notions they hope to manipulate you to prove them right.
An example is accusation of transphobic because you reposted an article. Case in point is Brandon Bahret on Twitter badgering Lalo Dagach with a series of tweets until Lalo was so confused and stood his ground. Brandon finally explained why.
I do not know either of them personally, I came across this, read through the series of tweets not shown here and thought, oh yes, gaslighting.
One sure sign is taking things completely out of context, like you're herding loose chickens back into a coop, the conversation with a gaslighter is everywhere and ends up nowhere, resulting in only frustration.
Repetitive Badgering. Falsehoods are repeated to stay on the offensive, control the conversation, dominate the relationship. New falsehoods reinforce the old ones, to psychologically thicken mind fog, create brain drain from fact keeping in our heads.
First falsehood - Accuse you of something, taken totally out of context.
Second falsehood to reinforce first one
Escalate When Challenged. When called on their lies, the gaslighter escalates the dispute by ramping up on attacks, refuting substantive evidence with denial, blame, superficial morality, sowing doubt and confusion.
4. Wear Out the Victim. By staying on the offensive, the gaslighter eventually wears down their victim, who becomes discouraged, resigned, pessimistic, fearful, debilitated, and self-doubting. The victim begins to question her or his own perception, identity, and reality.
The conversation is an endless loop of one person insisting on his/her views, you are just along for the narcissistic ride through their monologues, coming back to a pre-determined conclusion.
You have just wasted your time for nothing.
Form Codependent Relationships. Co-dependency is excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a person, a community or an ideology. In a gaslighting relationship, the gaslighter elicits constant insecurity and anxiety. Where the gaslighter is the puppeteer and the gaslightee is pulled in any direction they want. The gaslighter has the power to grant acceptance, approval, respect, safety, and security. Threatens to take it away to keep you on your toes, walking on eggshells. A co-dependent relationship is formed based on fear, vulnerability, and marginalisation.
I had co-dependency from narcissistic abuse, life is much less stressful since I quit it. Read about it here.
Dashing Of False Hope. As a manipulative tactic, the gaslighter will occasionally treat the victim with kindness, to give false hope that things can or will get better. That temporary assurance is soon taken away yet again. Leaving gaslightees to fall on empty promises, disappointed, angry at being fooled, further psychologically damaging you.
Controlling & Dominating. The ultimate objective of a pathological gaslighter is to augment power and personal gain through expliotation, control and domination towards an individual, a group, even an entire society. By maintaining and intensifying an incessant stream of fake news, micro-aggressions, group think coercions, the gaslighters keep gaslightees in a constant state of insecurity, doubt, and fear.
You will feel there's not much personality there, you're talking to an empty shell, it seems everyone regurgitate the same lines, use the same methods. If you feel you're talk to a row of robots, high chance you have been astroturfed online.
If you get mind fog, feel frequently frustrated, conflicted between the knowing in your heart and what they are saying, you have been gaslighted.
It is thought policing, creating a culture of fear and silence, where any voices are squelched or attacked viciously through any means possible, including hurling slurs like TERF, transphobia and transphobic without careful consideration. Everyone is a target, no one is spared.
After long term exposure, you will develop PTSD, clinical depression and chronic anxiety at the very least, many also develop other chronic illnesses.
Ignore completely. While not all gaslighters are narcissists, all narcissists are gaslighters. They have formulated pre-conceived ideas of you, are determined to prove it at all costs. Do not engage, the stress isn't worth it, a narcissist free inner circle offered me much peace.
Play into the pre-conceived notion to disarm them. Yes, I'm a horrible human being, worthless garbage. You are morally superior, perfect and highly admired.
They want to rile you, don't let them win.
Flatter them to get what you want. Yes, I am so eager to learn from you, please teach me. You're brilliant, we make good business partners.
Make sure you know that abusers are no one's real friend, watch your back at all times. Sometimes you are stuck with them, this is a last resort.
Be direct. This is gaslighting, it's manipulative and I'm not falling for it! You said it, not me, don't put words in my mouth.
Expose them. Your self-hatred is showing. The world doesn't revolve around you. Thank you for emphasising my point.
Stand in your power. Instead of being defensive, level up the inequity by asking for concrete proof. "Show me evidence I said that." "Quote where I said it."
Laugh. Let them know it doesn't get to you, they have failed and it doesn't bother you. There's a pathological aspect to gaslighters, they like the adrenaline thrill of one upping you, when they know they can't succeed, they get bored and look for other cheap thrills.
Trust Your Intuition. If you get this thought in your head, where did that even come from? What are you even talking about? Huh????? How did it even happen? When you have all these question marks floating in your head, trust your intuition, you're being gaslighted.
Find your tribe. Find the fearless truth owners, truth speakers, truth tellers, they are confident secure people who accept differences of opinions and are people of the light, willing to peacefully dialogue with the sincere objective to arrive at mutually satisfactory conclusions. Safety in numbers help prevent further gaslighting, when you have a community to back you up, assure you and validate it, you keep your reality grounded with honesty.
Use as few of the sentences for each method as possible. They enjoy twisting words, distorting facts so more information means more ammunition. Keep it short and sweet, get out of there real quick!
Gaslighters are using you to dump their resentment and hatred, they aren't interested in educating you, dialoguing or making any real changes, personal or social change. They want to beat you down so you're compliant, they want to avoid responsibility, eager to latch onto the quickest way to assure themselves they are special. No real change maker or sincere activist would do so, I also think a lot of online profiles are bots or paid astroturfers so this has distorted our reality in a much larger way than most realise.
Gaslighters often gaslight each other as well, it's mutual temporary assurance to keep each other trapped. Above a group of gaslighters is someone in a position of authority, they learn from this person and use it randomly. To be compliant to that person, they replicate this technique to pledge their loyalty, influenced further by astroturfing, it forces people to conform through intimidation.
Let's say a person in authority and in power shuts down any conversation with TERF, transphobia, transphobic, others are given carte blanche to do so too. A herd mentality, tribalism at its best.
When a gaslightee wants to leave this group, a person or a community, it's the same as leaving a cult, they are often alone, abandoned by all, deprogramming to healthy thinking is necessary until they have the courage to pull away from it.
The process is a slow one, especially when capitalisation is involved, with big business funding astroturfing, the road can seem long and hard, remember to step back to guilt free self-care, being gaslighted is exhausting, talking to a wall is exhausting. Gaslighting also feeds the ego, so gaslighters themselves are at risk of developing NPD, maladaptive narcissistic traits if they haven't yet, lost of empathy is real.
Regroup and focus on the people already open-minded to you, stop wasting time convincing people who aren't open to you. Avoidance isn't always the healthiest option either, too much of it means you're hiding your real self which is the whole aim of gaslightin, break you down into retreating inside yourself, you lose your voice, zest for life, stop making active choices, live in fear instead.
When you leave and find healthier better people, you will ask yourself how could you have fallen for this in the first place?
This is what everyone in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, been around gaslighters, ponder after recovery. It's not your fault, you were pressured by all sides and force to a corner, to risk everyone turning against, finding your wings, marching solo, requires the courage of a warrior.
We all hope to belong to something greater and larger than ourselves, we all have to ask if losing our perception, voices, sense of self is worth it? Is it healthy, is it making our lives better or is it more stressful? Isn't it better when an activist is healthy, activism can be done more effectively?
I find that my own answers to all three questions are affirmative, to be an independent thought leader, to be centred and assured in my being, to not be swayed by lower conscious mindlessness, most definitely not cave to abusive behaviours, oh no, it must go!
It's the healthiest way for all parties, even if not everyone can see it now, a clear conscience offers me much peace and that is good enough.
I have become a better activist, a healthier person, more educated, more purposeful, experience more peace and joy.
All these blessings, I am thankful.
Now for the warrior chicken dance! Come join me!
Love, light and peace.
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