Black and White Make-wrong

One of The Black & White articles from The Challenges Inventory™ Series
Foundational Concepts of the Intentionality Series: Opinions vs. Facts

Blog Belittlement — yet not here!

© by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

A overdue THANK YOU
to my Readership!

NEWS TO KNOW — in the over two years of this blog’s life (born, essentially, in March 2011), I have gotten only THREE comments that crossed the line separating disagreeable from disagreement.

(Not counting, that is, whatever is inside the thousands of auto-spammed comments I’ve never seen — caught by the Akismet spam filter on this blog — check out the spam counter near the top of the skinny column to your right.)

Think about that for a moment.

From YouTube to The Huffington Post — to Scientific American, for heaven’s sakes — the comments section seems to be developing into little more than a place to indulge in a snide and sarcastic form of cyber-bullying, discounting entire articles and comments from others with a sneering couple of words that add nothing but nastiness.

Sadly, many sites have felt the need to disconnect the comments feature because of the abject churlishness of the comments that have been posted. Moderating and editing thousands of comments can be a tedious task indeed — NOBODY has the time to sift through and delete all that stuff when the “trolls” and haters decide to descend.

  • YET on, where the readership make-up is primarily those whom we would expect to have more than a few issues with impulsivity (and more than a few frustrations to take out on the closest available victim), it is practically non-existent.
  • WE seem to be a community of civilized, respectful and supportive, grateful-for-anything-that-might-help band of brethren.

How cool is THAT!?

Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover.

Spam is not merely in the eye of the Beholder

FlamesBADWhether a comment voices a disagreement or whether it crosses the disagreeable line can be a matter of opinion, I suppose — but those of us who value kindness and caring can distinguish an attack from a comment filled with the anger of frustration in a heartbeat (even if the comment’s point could have been expressed in a more positive fashion).

The anger of frustration is likely to activate our urge to be helpful — to assist, or explain, or clarify, or empathize. As we do so, the vibrational level of our emotions raises, heading in the direction of compassion and love.

It does, that is, if we’re not over-exposed to anger and frustration.

Sheer meanness feels wrong.

It makes us uneasy. It brings the vibrational level of our emotions down to levels heading in the direction of hopelessness. And it propagates. Kids are especially vulnerable to joining in on the attack, “going along to get along.” Their emotional regulation compasses are still developing as the pre-frontal cortex of their brain continues to mature.

Teens who are (or were) guided toward kindness lay down neuro-tracks that propagate kindness, but exposure to the meanness of those who were not can wear down even the best of us.

©Wikimedia Commons

©Wikimedia Commons

Venom – even at subtle levels – is poison.  It’s an attack.  It activates our urge to defend.

To a teen, that might look more like joining in to avoid becoming the target, but even once we have become emotionally whole and healthy ourselves, exposure to venom is exposure to poison.

Our own frustration and dismay has a tendency to escalate when we can’t figure out exactly how to resolve our urge to defend without attacking the attacker — which is more likely to initiate what has become known as a “flame-war” than to transform the conversation.

Grrrrrr . . .

So there we are, stuck in the decision anxiety of whether to fire back a salvo of our own or walk away and stop reading the comments — as our own level of frustration and anger escalates.

It feels so unfair to simply sit with our urge to express our objections in a similar fashion, especially for those of us who  fully understand that the entire conversation devolves when we reply in that manner.

  • Still, there are many who don’t consider those nasty comments spamming,
    and don’t consider themselves spammers when they post them.

That type of comment broadcasts an emotional vibration that is as ego-based and emotionally maladaptive as that of the spammers who don’t care who they interrupt or annoy as long as somebody buys what they’re selling and they make money.

How about you?  What’s YOUR perspective on comment spam?

A few of the things I consider Spam

First, there’s link-spam – well-known by anyone who blogs – where affiliate marketers use bots of some sort to get a whole bunch of links on other blogs and websites. I have no idea how that helps them, but they must get something back somehow, because it is RAMPANT.

SpaghLinkSpamCheck the spam counter in the green box near the top of the skinny column to the right to see how many have tried (and failed) to load “comments” that are nothing more than screenloads of links leading to strange and unrelated sites all over the internet universe. Thousands!

(That’s why I caution followers to leave no more than one or two links in any single comment – no matter HOW legitimate the links. If my spam filter sees a plethera of links, nobody else ever sees the comment — not even me!)

Then there’s what I call “marketing spam.”  These are quick, but essentially vapid and content-free comments like “good job!” or “love your site.” Not ALL of them are SPAM, however.

Some of them are quickies posted by readers who want to acknowledge me for a particular article (or let me know that they are reading) but don”t have the time or inclination to comment at length.

That’s not spam, that’s feedback! And I appreciate it greatly, by the way.

Sometimes somebody wants to let me know that they have linked my article to one they have written on their site. Frequently they say little beyond “good job,” since the fact that they have linked says it all – no further comment necessary. Leaving a beyond-brief comment is a quick way to balance their inbound/outbound link ratio, and a totally legitimate use of a comment in my opinion.



And then there are the others, those “it’s-just-business” maniacs attempting to drive traffic to their own sites in the hopes of selling something to the readers of

Ironically, what they are selling is often information of the same type that I post for free — or something I have already disclosed that I believe is a useless or harmful way to attempt to manage ADD. (Feel free to disagree with my opinions, but do it with an appropriate COMMENT, not by attempting to sneak in a link!)

THAT’s “marketing spam.” You are probably most familiar with the marketing spam clogging your email in-boxes — those deal-of-the-day missives masquerading as “newsletters.”

How do I tell the difference?  “Backstage” on this blog is a way I can check out the link to the page left by by the person who left the comment without “crediting” them with a link-click.

I can usually tell, practically immediately, if the linked site is a legitimate site from a sincerely interested reader – even when they are selling something on their site.

As long as they play fair, help me get the word out about what I’m doing here on, AND the item is something my readers would find helpful or useful, I’m happy to help them make a living and don’t consider them marketing spammers.

While those I DO consider marketing spammers have robbed me of more than a few moments of my life by forcing me to deal with their nonsense, they don’t get to do it more that once. Once I mark them as SPAM, they don’t get through my spam filter again – even if they reform their evil ways!

SmileyHateSpamFar worse, to me, is the “make-wrong spam.” 

These are the comments that attack – the ones that shame and should – that name-call and label from their black and white viewpoints– even if they aren’t quite vitriolic enough to be considered “cyber-bullying” by many other people.

I am so GRATEFUL that I don’t have to deal with that kind often at all, because that’s the type that takes the most time to handle. I actually have to READ the darned things and think about how I choose to handle them.

Why do I want to avoid reading them?

Reading make-wrong spam leaves me with an acrid taste in my mouth, making me wonder why I even TRY to make a difference.

It leaves me polishing my best “You want fries with that?” delivery as I fantasize about auditioning to become the world’s oldest counter-girl (making everyone who knew-me-when extremely happy because I will finally have, at long last, “a real job.”)

My readers are grown-ups!  Since I spend a great deal of time online every day, I know first-hand how RARE that is out there in cyber-world.

And THAT is why I began this article with a very sincere – and long overdue – acknowledgment of the blog-behavior of each and every one of you.


Nobody’s Perfect

Don’t go nuts with this. Remember, I’m the ADD Poster Girl, so I am only too familiar with where we often go when we’re acknowledged for something that we don’t feel we exactly deserve because we’re not PERFECT.

AngelReactingSome day when you’re bored, Google my name and click on a few comments I’ve left around the internet. I’m sure you’ll run across at least ONE I’d take back if I could. While I’m rarely aggressively nasty, after a work-week where I’ve been at the computer for so many hours that my ankles swell, I’m not always a shining example of how to defend without attacking.

While I’m not proud of those comments, I also don’t kick myself out of the nice guy club because of them either.

  • I’m not a sadist or a bully — taking pleasure from somebody else’s pain, or finding it funny. It doesn’t make me feel better to make someone else feel worse.
  • I’m simply human. I occasionally have lapses of good judgment when my buttons are pushed, and I get testy when I’m tired.

I try not to ruminate over unintentionally causing emotional harm to someone else. And I try to remind myself NOT to comment when I’m overworked and under-slept, even if I don’t have the good sense to shut off the computer and put myself to bed. That’s what I suggest for you, too.

Neither Black nor White

What I find most interesting about “make-wrong spam” – when I have a cool enough head not to get hooked by it – is the black and white nature of its brilliant illumination of confirmation bias.

NOnoYESConfirmation bias is a term describing the tendency of people to favor information that confirms their hypotheses or closely held belief systems.

Individuals display confirmation bias when they selectively gather, note or remember information, or when they interpret it in a way that fits what they already believe.

The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues, for deeply entrenched beliefs, when we are desperate for answers, and when there is more attachment to being right than being effective.

Nobody Escapes Alive

ALL of us are at the effect of our confirmation biases – which is why it is so important to continue to work on ourselves to upgrade our thinking by opening our minds to as many different viewpoints as possible.  Black and white thinking keeps us stuck where we are, refusing to let in, often, just what we need to move onward and upward.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably already know that black and white thinking is one of the Nine Challenges that are especially troublesome to individuals on what I call the Attentional Disorders Spectrum.  It’s a biggie!

And YET, in my experience, we seem to turn it inward more than our “vanilla” buddies (unflavored by any of our “mix-ins”).  They seem to be more apt to use it as a weapon.

  • It would make psychological sense for those of us who have been misunderstood and treated cruelly as a result of neurological differences to be among the ones eager to pass it on – but that’s not what I see.
  • I have noted, on and elsewhere, that a large number of the folks in the Alphabet Disorders club exhibit an unusually well-developed sense of empathy that acts as a governor for most of us.
  • SO, like almost everything else I write about, we need to approach black and white thinking in a different manner as well – tweaking “vanilla” techniques to work with our brain wiring.

Future articles in the Challenges Series will focus specifically on how we exhibit black and white thinking, the damage it inflicts on our self-esteem and the likelihood of our future success, and how we can learn to work around it.  So DO stay tuned.

As always, if you want notification of new articles in this Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

IN ANY CASE, stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some coaching help (one-on-one,couples or group) with anything that came up while you were reading this article, click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end, or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page. Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Related articles right here on
(in case you missed them above)

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BY THE WAY: Since is an Evergreen site, I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

2 Responses to Black and White Make-wrong

  1. Pingback: Back Scratching-101: How to get support for YOUR objectives | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

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