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My 9 year old son regards life as meaningless

Others have expressed skepticism at this story, where apparently the nine-year-old child wrote:

"Look. I know what you are trying to do. I know that you're worried about me. I know that you've been talking to a lot of people about my behaviour. But why do you want me to live my life the way others want? Life, by it's nature, is absolutely meaningless. Imagine yourself to suddenly wake up in a room, knowing of nothing, except the fact that you'll die within the next two hours. Would you attach importance to anything you would do during this period? Ofcourse not! All I know is that I am alive, a son of yours, on a beautiful diverse planet somewhere in the cosmos, and all I am interested is in knowing why did we acquire existence. This may be impossible, but I'd rather pursue the great impossible than spend my life living accordingly to the sentiments of people!"

And I think it's fair to be skeptical. The quote is quite specific for remembering a written down conversation. It kind of sounds more like something a 15 year old would say.

I guess this isn't a testable hypothesis, whether it's a troll or not is one of those things that might never be known.

But is there any kind of guidelines for assessing this thing, or how we should proceed?

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    FYI: There are 10 year olds who read Nietzsche and philosophy in general, and know what weak anthropic principle is. Just because something is unusual for an age band, doesn't make it impossible. – user3143 Jun 29 '15 at 15:45
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First off, a quick definition of troll:

a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community ... with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion
(Wikipedia, Internet Troll)
See also: SOFU definition of “Troll”

The best response to a troll is to ignore, and report to the mods via flag. Pointing out in comments (or worse, an answer) why a question appears to be troll-written isn't constructive.


But in this case, it isn't apparent whether this is a parent with an unusual problem, or somebody who's trolling.

With regards to "how we should proceed," there are two possible options:

  1. We assume bad intentions, close the question and ban the user.

    If we're right: Troll is no longer able to trouble Parenting.SE.

    If we're wrong: A concerned parent gets the message that her problem is too weird to be believed.

  2. We assume good intentions, treat the question as plausible, and provide answers.

    If we're right: A concerned parent gets some sympathy and answers that are (hopefully) helpful for her and her son. Future readers with similar problems (nihilist/pessimist/suicidal son) have some resources to start with.

    If we're wrong: Troll gets to laugh at how gullible we are. Future readers with similar problems (nihilist/pessimist/suicidal son) have some resources to start with.

I prefer the latter. I've seen a number of instances where a poorly written but completely legitimate question was angrily declared to be from a troll, based on a misreading of its content (and, presumably, an overbroad definition of "troll"). I'm not saying that is what you've done here, this is overall a constructive conversation to have. But, I think we have enough obvious trolls without looking for more.


Related reading:

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