Recently in my poetry group I have a situation with a problem member. It always seems like eventually troublemakers will always find your group. They join the group, and almost immediately they start making making nasty comments to other members. There was one member in my group from Sri Lanka who started saying nasty things to another member from Sri Lanka. The first time that happened, I intervened, and diffused the situation somewhat. However, incidents kept happening between these two group members. I did not know how to solve the problem. Eventually, the person was being attacked left the group. No sooner had this happen than the mean nasty member started attacking someone else. Finally, I decided to ban the attacker from the group. However, it probably upset at least one person who was friendly with the attacker, but by that point, I really felt that I had no other choice. Unfortunately, it seems that the Internet is filled with nasty people who are bent on causing problems, and making life miserable for others.

I think I learned from this experience that in the future I’m not going to give any second chances. It seems to me that the moment I identified the troublemaker, I should have banned him from the group immediately instead of waiting to see whether or not the situation would improve. One always likes to think that it’s nice to be able to give someone a second chance, but in my experience past behavior predicts future behavior. I have never witnessed a troublemaker changes his ways. Sooner or later, he will always attack again. When it comes to people on the Internet, the bad ones never improve!

Part of the problem was that the two people in question were from a culture that I am not familiar with, so the the attacker was able to make some types of insults that I was not particularly sensitive to. However In retrospect, I realize that that was no excuse for my failure to act quickly enough to prevent damage from occurring. I realize that in the future I should probably try to be more culturally sensitive, but it is difficult to intervene in a conflict when the two people involved in the conflict are from a different culture than one’s own culture.