Stickman’s Cyber Stalker
I certainly can empathise with your predicament at the time and I can understand how therapeutic and liberating it was to write such a long story about your experiences. Remembering I too went through my own hell in Thailand, came out the other end and found great benefit in writing about it and then finding comfort in reading back my own words.
It was amazing just how vulnerable you were to somebody doing what this guy was doing to you. I never would have thought how vulnerable you were at the time but this guy was shrewd enough to manipulate the situation to make life very difficult for you. I imagine that these days you are more protected should that kind of thing happen to you again, particularly as I understand you no longer have employment in a Thai business anymore. I suppose somebody could exploit your marriage, or your visa status or your online credibility or entrap you by planting something on you but these things you would have a bit more control over. You wouldn't be so disempowered as you were back then. You had a good position at a Thai school and you were forced to give up the internet for a period to save your job.
Personally I would not have sent in my military buddy to deal with the situation because it opened up exponentially a whole different element that you would have no control of. Whilst you felt disempowered, imagine how you would have felt if…. well I can think of many number of situations that could have arisen following a military intervention that could be a whole lot worse. I think the US is learning this in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. Although mighty tempting, letting your military guy go in would have been a quick and decisive move that would probably have ended up in your favour but the risks were too great. You had no choice but to find another longer term and inventive solution.
So this leads me to the question of why would this individual want to do this to you? From the outset he must be awash with jealousy. The jealousy must be derived through the fact that you were more established than him in Thailand and had over the years developed a core following of internet users who considered your words to be the modern day bible for Thai expats and travellers. This fellow was not prepared to take the time it takes to build up such a following and must have held the view that if he took you down then it proved to everybody that he was better than you. He was more deserving of the online admiration than you.
His behaviour is wrapped up in his own insecurities that make him feel the need to take others down in order to confirm to himself that he is not as insignificant in Thailand as he actually is. His cockiness and apparent self assuredness that he presented to the outside world mask his deep insecurity and lack of self esteem that is probably so deep within his subconscious that he is only vaguely aware of it. He must tell himself everyday that he is superior to Thai people, Kiwi people (and probably Aussie people too) but when he looks at what he has achieved in Thailand he knows it is not enough to prove his superiority so he need more. The quick way to achieve this is to take Stickman down and take your website glory and respect for himself. Now that would be an achievement he could be proud of and it would prove he was a somebody in Thailand.
Patience is something few of us have, me included to some degree. Thieves are the ultimate example of this as we all desire that nice watch in the shop, some may work hard to attain it, some may scam others to attain it but the thief has no patience to get it the hard working way. The thief walks in and tries to steal it straight away. Sometimes the impatient way works but in this guy's case it was probably never going to work. His attempts to take you down in the cyber world were most likely going to end in failure because even though you have weaknesses he could exploit, so too was he vulnerable and eventually his weaknesses proved his undoing.
When I was 16 I worked in a McDonalds restaurant and there was a manager there who constantly brought the other managers down. He also secretly dobbed them in to head office for things they had not done. His rationale was that if they were brought down then by default he would be brought up. This ideology is flawed in its thinking and what he actually achieved was to bring the store down as a whole. The parallel with the idiot you dealt with is that even if he was successful in bringing you down and preventing you from maintaining your column permanently, it did not necessarily mean that he would become the new Stickman. Taking you down may be possible (he achieved it for 4 months), but it would take a whole lot more skill, charisma and experience to win over your readership and have them tune in every week as they do for you.
I see a contradiction going on in this guy's own head; he was self assured and insecure at the same time. Even though his behaviour was driven by his insecurities, he would lie to himself and gain superficial confidence by telling himself he was superior to most others and trying to make himself believe his own delusion. To watch him walk down the street or see him talk with somebody in a bar would have given the impression that he was a confident person, but this was masking his deep insecurities that he himself was only vaguely aware of and did not have the strength to admit to himself.
After I get past my theory of his jealously and insecurity, I consider the fact that there must be a degree of insanity in him (bipolar?). His behaviour was simply not rational. Initially he comes to Thailand to fulfil his dream and he makes an online friend of you through the exchange of pleasant enough emails. He wanted to meet you in person and bring the friendship into the real world. That's normal enough. Then after a time he derived a plan to become an online celebrity and gain an army of devoted followers. That is when his mind began to twist because instead of taking the long road to slowly but surely build up his followers, he decided to accelerate the process by bringing you (and others like you) down. He decided to turn on his on-line friend and write truths, half truths and downright lies about somebody he once considered a friend and somebody who had never done anything to him. Obviously he tried to find loose justification in the fact that he was doing it all because you and others like you were conducting yourself in Thailand in a way that he did not approve of, hence the justification for exposing your behaviour. As he got more twisted and warped he probably convinced himself he was an investigative journalist who had a duty to his readers to expose the whole truth and it would be remiss of him to do otherwise.
When he commenced his website I'm certain that although he planned to push the boundaries a little, he never planned to take it so far and become so aggressive in his writings. But the bizarre thing for a warped individual is the path of least resistance is to follow the course towards aggressiveness and belligerent hostility towards others. He was becoming more warped every day and it would have taken far more strength to realise and admit you're out of control and to pull back. It is easier to continue along your destructive path which is a vicious cycle and self fulfilling. He couldn't stop himself because he didn't have the mental strength or intestinal fortitude to do so.
It could be said that he was anti-social and not good with people but I don't see this. You discovered that he would happily introduce himself to strangers and my guess is he could keep up an enjoyable enough conversation and make friends. I'm sure in upcountry Thailand he was a little lonely and short on native English speakers to befriend but nonetheless he was clearly not anti-social or socially introverted. He commenced his website with the plan to be a bit aggressive, this is not anti-social and numerous people can be quite aggressive on the internet when hiding behind a keyboard. Put them out in public and they are small and sheepish. However I don't even think this guys was small and sheepish and introverted in public like some of the other mean spirited people writing spiteful things on the internet. (Incidentally, I have worked 20 years in the entertainment industry in Melbourne and numerous malicious and untrue comments have been made about me on forums over the years by fairly gutless people who would never have the balls to admit to such writing or say such things in public.) I think what simply happened was that this guy slowly got worse and worse because he couldn't help himself. He was titillated by his own ability to write such hateful comments and he wanted to engage you in an online battle. Initially he wanted to see his name printed on your website, perhaps an opening piece devoted to him and further down the track ongoing commentary back and forth. When this didn't transpire he went further and further with his vitriol, thus daring you to respond.
If you responded to him then he was a somebody and the more you positively or negatively mentioned him in your weekly columns then the more of a somebody he was. His rationale being any publicity is good publicity on the internet and you would make him as famous as you yourself are. Of course there was no benefit to you in responding to his rubbish but your lack of a response infuriated him because it belittled him and denied him the notoriety he dearly sought. This added to his need to become more aggressive and spiteful on his website as the weeks went on. And of course as he ran out of genuine material he would need to be a little more inventive and loose with the truth. (Hey, this is Thailand, and the truth gets loose the moment you step off the plane at Suvarnabhumi.) Before he knew it, the person he once considered a friend was now his enemy number One and his was targeting his enemy with everything he had.
I am certain that as the weeks went on, the more he wrote about you the more convinced of his superiority he was and also the nobility of his quest and also the thrill of uploading his every accusation about you. He was deriving a bizarre and demented pleasure by writing all of the spiteful things and it was like an insatiable addiction. The more pleasure he got from his writings, the more he needed to write to satisfy his hunger. There can be no doubt that he enjoyed his time on the internet bring you and others like you down. It was a drug and he was hooked.
Just as a Muslim extremist can make themselves believe that they are acting in the name of God to become a holy martyr by strapping a bomb to themselves and going into a crowded market place full of Muslim women and children and blowing everybody up, so too did this idiot convince himself that he was acting in morally superior way for the betterment of all mankind. You and others like you are conducting yourselves in Thailand in an improper way and it is up to crusaders such as himself to expose you to the world for what you are. You are not deserving of such a loyal following and he will see to it that your readers know the truth. He is not on a mission from God – I don't think God has ever been to Nana Plaza – but he is on a mission for the truth and that justifies anything he writes and justifies the fact that he made your life and others very uncomfortable. In his eyes your behaviour deemed that you deserved it. I have no doubt that this guy had no problem staying up to write nasty things about you and went to bed at night losing no sleep at what he had just done. I don't think he questioned his behaviour for a second. In his eyes he was clearly justified and righteous.
Personally I would never choose to write such things online, particularly in Thailand, even if there was an element of truth to it. Not because of Thailand's strong libel and slander laws and not because I might get shut down by the authorities and find my visa status revoked but because I know in Thailand for 50,000 baht I can have anybody disappear permanently. Of all the people this guy pissed off, wasn't he worried that somebody would come after him? If it was Cambodia he would have been in a coffin long ago. He naively took great risks with his personal safety. He is lucky he even made it back to America with just the shirt on his back. <I don't think he is in America, but elsewhere in the region – Stick>
Even today back in America I highly doubt he has had the strength to analyse his behaviour and his motivation for doing what he did. He befriended you and then turned on you and caused you great pain even thought you had never done anything bad to him. I seriously doubt that even today he could bring himself to admit that he was wrong and his behaviour was that of a person with warped and demented thought process.
I find myself having just a minutely small amount of sympathy for this pitiful individual who must now be back stateside penny less and all his big dreams shattered. The big American couldn't make it in Thailand and was ultimately beaten by a Kiwi (and others). Your story made for a fascinating read an above all other things, I thought about the fact that this is one case where karma didn't let us down. It caught up with this idiot and gave him exactly what he deserved.
Writing the cyberbullying article was a good chance to tell the story from my perspective – and that is what it was, the story from my perspective. Others will obviously see it all differently, particularly the fellow concerned.
A couple of corrections for you: As best I know, he is still in Asia. I heard he moved to China but whether that is true or not, I just do not know. Further, from a number of people who have met him, most suggest he was very awkward socially. He did seek out friends but friendships didn't tend to last. I have heard the same things from so many people – including a number of retirees in the town on the Mekhong where he settled – that there does seem to be some consistency to the tales.
As for what this fellow's motivations were and as for his state of mind, I will never really know.
The saddest part was that he tried to put someone else down to make himself look better while conveniently avoiding many truths about himself. This sort of nonsense really makes me wild and is something I don't miss about my homeland where tall poppy syndrome is so prevalent. Be the best you can and don't concern yourself about others.