The other brother: Experiencing life as a “well-sibling”

“Come on guys, we’re going to be late for our reservations,” Nancy Erdlen yelled to her four boys as she searched frantically for her purse.

Shoving each other, Tim, Matt, Mike and John, ages 7, 8, 9 and 10, came running down the stairs and into the living room.

Nancy stared at Matt impatiently.

“Why don’t you have on your socks and shoes Matty,” she asked. “We’re going to be late.”

Matt reluctantly hurried over to the front door where his socks and shoes were and took a seat on the stairs. He peered down at the socks for a moment and then at his feet. He paused and as he took a deep inhale, he slid the left sock on—a success. Now it was time for the hard part. As the top of the right sock reached around his ankle, he collapsed to the ground and began to scream.

“Are you kidding me?” bellowed John as he stomped up the stairs. “Can we have one normal, peaceful day in this house? All I want to do is eat.”

Mike followed him, attempting to calm him down so he would not further upset Matt, but was unsuccessful.

John slammed the door to his bedroom. Everyone in the house could still hear him cussing and screaming. And then suddenly there was a loud bang—the sound of him putting yet another hole through his wall.

Nancy, with a look of exhaustion and disappointment in her eyes, rushed to comfort Matt. She wrapped him in her arms and held him there for almost two hours before he began to calm down. This would be the second time they would have to cancel dinner reservations that week.

For the Erdlen household in Windham, New Hampshire, a night like this was a pretty regular occurrence. This is because John and Matt both suffer from a SMI, or serious mental illness. They, along with six percent of the U.S. population, fall under this classification that includes major depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Both diagnosed at an early age, John struggles with bipolar disorder, an illness characterized by debilitating highs and lows, while Matt suffers from a combination of bipolar disorder and sensory integration dysfunction, a condition where the brain has trouble interpreting and responding to information that it receives through the senses, causing essentially a sensory overload.

While the effects of mental illness have been well researched and documented, little has been said about the siblings of the mentally ill. The sad reality for many of those who have a sibling that suffers from a mental illness is that they are left feeling a pressure to be normal—a phenomena called the well-sibling syndrome.

Mike Erdlen, who is now 24, is no exception.

“I am not a very openly emotional person and never have been,” he explained sternly. “I’m close to the opposite of how they are. I am extremely closed-off because they were open faucets all the time. I never wanted to deal with it and didn’t want to add to the stress so I just found it easier to internalize how I felt.”

From as early as Mike can remember, John and Matt have struggled with their illnesses—Matt’s episodes happening almost daily.

“We would go out and literally buy socks without seams so we could go out and do the thing we had planned for later that day,” he explained, chuckling at how extreme it must of sounded. “Typically, that still wouldn’t work. He would just fall to the floor and lay there for hours. If he put anything with a seam on, it could happen and it did almost daily.”

As Mike made his way to the kitchen to grab a beer from the fridge, he recalled the most recent episode he experienced with John when they were living together at the University of New Hampshire five years ago.

“We had just gotten off a double from work and we were arguing over rent, bills, the house being dirty—just typical daily things,” he said as he took a long sip of his beer. “We were just sitting there talking and he was standing across from me and all of a sudden his eyes just lit up with flames and he punched me right in the face.”

Growing up in this environment often made it difficult for Mike to express his own problems to his parents. With the nearly constant heightened tension in the air and the looming fear of setting one of his brother’s temper’s off, he typically kept to himself.

“I always felt like I had to walk on eggshells,” he said while glancing down at his fingers. “It would be a lie to say that I never felt like my problems were less important in comparison to theirs, but my parents did the best they could. Their needs definitely came first though.”

This feeling is not unique to Mike as psychologist Diane Marsh explains in her book, Troubled Journey.

“As hard as parents may try, and they do, to meet the needs of their well siblings, time and energy are simply finite,” Marsh told NPR. “And so siblings often feel like the forgotten family members. Everyone else’s problems are more important than theirs.”

Although Mike felt that his life was trivialized at times because of his brother’s ailments, he always tried to be as supportive as possible. With the pressure of four boys alone combined with the challenge of two mentally ill children, in Mike’s eyes, his parents did all that they could do.   

“It definitely became unbearable at times,” he explained somberly. “There were some points where it would either be the fifth or sixth hour in a row, or the fifth day in a row where we couldn’t leave the house and I was over it. But it was always understandable. There was never a time I really felt neglected on purpose.”

As understanding as he may be, Mike acknowledges the fact that who he has become as a person has been heavily shaped by his experiences growing up with Matt and John, using adjectives like introverted, weird and passive to describe himself.

“I think with how over the top both of them were, I just don’t experience extreme emotions,” he said as the ends of his mouth curled into a slight frown. “I don’t think I have ever experienced anxiety. I rarely, if ever panic. It’s definitely taken a tole on my capacity for emotions and being able to talk openly about it.”

Unfortunately for well-siblings like Mike, this kind of desensitization is very common. Marsh’s co-author Rex Dickens, who himself is the brother of three mentally-ill siblings, explained that brothers and sisters of the mentally ill often become “frozen souls” over time.

“You sort of shut down, emotionally, in part of your life, and that carries over to other areas,” Dickens told NPR.

To the outsider, Mike’s experience growing up may seem like a burden, but to him and his family it has created an opportunity over time to become closer—and based on research he’s right. According to Marsh, there is evidence of stronger family bonds and commitment within families that have one or more mentally ill children.

“I think going through all of that together made us able to be completely comfortable around each other because we’ve seen the true colors. I would argue that we have one of the closest families that I know, even though half of us are crazy. Well maybe all of us,” he laughed to himself.

Believing is more than seeing

It seems like every time I turn on the television, log-on to social media or check a news application on my phone, there is another breaking news story about something violent that has happened at home or overseas.

As someone who plans to have a career in journalism, I am well versed with the practice of, “if it bleeds, it leads,” used by news media.

But, to the average American, these images of violence create a skewed picture of the world that is reinforced every time a news outlet runs a story containing violent-content.

Because of this, many feel that the world is more dangerous than it actually is.

A Gallup poll published in 2015, showed that 70 percent of Americans believe that the crime rate is higher than it was the year before. This has been the trend since the company started giving the violence perception poll in 1989.

wzvtbhtlxkgekbwdjg_fwwThe poll showed that 60 percent of Americans also reported believing that violent crime is a “very serious” problem; while at the same time, only 25 percent reported that they or someone in their household fell victim to a crime, six percent or less, being violent.

Data from The Pew Research Center also indicated that, since the early 2000s, American’s have reported that every year, they feel the crime rate has increased since the year prior.

These, along with various other sets of data, show that the reality is that, even though a majority of Americans feel as though the crime rates are increasing, government data shows that the rates have been on a—nearly—constant decline since the early 90.

Having the ability to separate oneself from the “current events” and see the bigger picture, is key to not falling subject to, what the late Media Effect researcher, George Gerbner, called the “Mean World Syndrome.”

Gerbner used this term to describe how violent content in mass media leads viewers to believe that society is much more dangerous than it actually is.  He also concluded that because of this constant exposure, people are primed to think violence is a regular part of life.

Making the effort to use statistics, rather than a heuristic—a shortcut for thinking—to develop one’s world-view is also essential, according to psychologists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman.

Tversky and Kahneman explained the reason behind the gap between the public’s perceptions of violent crime and reality, to be due to something they coined an “availability heuristic.”

Similar to Gerbner, Tversky and Kahneman stated that if someone regularly engages in media that displays violent content, they are likely to assume that the world parallels this.

With the news being easily accessible through multiple mediums, and in light of the recent terrorist attacks and shootings, it is easy to see why many American’s are living in fear.

Although the media portrays society to be increasingly violent, it is important to recognize that various data, like that from ourworldindata.org, shows that the reality is just the opposite.

It is actually the safest time to be alive in human history.

 

College students obsessed with success, too stressed to obtain it

Countless studies show that there is currently a mental health epidemic facing college students across the nation.

A survey conducted by the American College Counseling Association, or ACCA, found that more than half of college counseling visitors have save psychological problems, an increase of 13 percent in two years.

Parallel to other national college mental health data, the survey also concluded that anxiety and depression, in that order, are the most common health diagnoses among college students.

According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the number 2 leading cause of death among those ages 15-24 and that the suicide rate among adolescents and young adults has increased “modestly but steadily” since 2007.

Over the past two decades, several universities across America have experienced what psychologists refer to as “suicide clusters,” which is defined as multiple deaths in close succession and proximity.

In 2015, Tulane University lost four students to suicide and Appalachian State lost three.

Penn State had six students commit suicide over a 13-month stretch from 2014-2015.

From 2003-2004, 5 New York University (NYU) students leapt to their death. Cornell lost six students to suicide from 2009-2010.

And according to Kelsie Miller, a Counseling Outreach Coordinator for the Students Helping Others Reach Excellence (SHORE) program on Coastal’s Campus who spoke with Chanticleer reporter, Genelle Thompson, CCU has also seen its share of student suicides over the last 5 years.

With a majority of these suicide clusters happening at top-ranked schools, it is easy to speculate that the infamous high-stress, hyper-achieving environment that many ivy-league schools are known for is linked in some way.

Director of Counseling and Psychological Services for the Jed Foundation, a non-profit organization geared towards promoting emotional health and preventing suicide, and the Associate Director of Gannett Health Services at Cornell University Gregory T. Eells told HuffPost Live, that this could be due to something he calls “social perfection.”

Eells explained that because today’s younger generation are so attuned to social media, many feel the need to appear perfect across various platforms, which can potentially be as damaging to the person posting the image as it is to the people engaging with it.

“Social perfection can be a very toxic concept because it’s something that we internalize,” said Eells. “It’s not as if you really think I have to be perfect. It’s that I think that you think I have to be perfect.”

He explained that striving to be perfect causes one to miss out on the chance to improve oneself through recognizing personal imperfections.

“Part of being human is that we all make mistakes,” said Eells. “We really can develop a growth mindset, which is when there are those setbacks, they’re opportunities for growth. They don’t mean you’re a failure, they don’t mean that you’ve done something wrong. They’re an opportunity to learn and develop some sense of resilience and develop some adaptability.”

This feeling of a need to achieve perfection that many college student’s currently face has created a shift in the way young adults handle conflict and cope with challenges.

Counselors at various colleges across the nation have reported noticing this change and have concluded that many college students no longer know how to fail.

Based on an article published in Counseling Today, a publication of the American Counseling Association, helicopter parenting is partly to blame.

This style of parenting describes a parent, or parents, who have a “helicopter-like tendency to hover over children and swoop in to rescue them at the first sign of trouble.” This parenting style ultimately prevents children from developing “independence and resiliency,” thereby hindering them both emotionally and academically, later in life.

A combination of being raised by overprotective parents and being surrounded by culture of hyper-achievement, there is no mystery why mental illness and suicide rates among adolescents and young adults are on a constant incline.

The sad reality is that national data on campus suicide and depression show that one in four adults experience mental illness in a given year, two-thirds of students who are struggling do no seek help or treatment and more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from all other mental illnesses combined.

Because of the prevalence of these issues among college students, it is important for their peers, as well as faculty and staff, to know the facts, warning signs and how to help.

Coastal’s Counseling Services provide several different outlets to aid with mental illness and suicide prevention, but students must take the first step to get help.

October is suicide prevention month, so be sure to be aware of the facts and keep an eye out for awareness events hosted by COAST, the Counseling Outreach Advocacy Student Team and Counseling Services.

Classified pages in 9/11 report could indicate Saudi involvement

Since its completion in December of 2011, the full report from Congress’s investigation into the 9/11 attacks has yet to be published. This is due to suspicions that the 28 pages that are still being withheld contain information that could reveal that the Saudi government and citizens played a role in the terrorist attack.

Pressed by a number of victim’s families, lawmakers and U.S. officials, President Obama asked intelligence officials to complete a review of the redacted report. In a recent interview with CBS News’ Charlie Rose, the president said that by his understanding the director of national intelligence, Jim Clapper, is close to completing the process. Although this is true, 14 years is entirely too long for this vital information to have been kept under wraps. Because of this, many questions about this tragic event have been left unanswered.

Watch the interview here: http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/president-obama-on-u-s-troops-in-iraq-classified-911-report-pages

It is still a mystery as to why 15 of the 19 hijackers from al Qaeda who were involved in the attack were Saudi citizens. Many, including myself, wonder if this has any indication that the Saudi government and its powerful religious establishment had a hand in supporting the plot for 9/11. Ex-Senator Bob Graham, who was co-chairman of the 2002 congressional investigation into the attacks, has repeatedly claimed there is evidence of support from the Saudi government to the terrorists and said the FBI has “gone beyond just covering up” this information in what he calls “aggressive deception.”

22fri1-superJumboContrary to this view, the 9/11 commission, an independent bipartisan panel that conducted a separate investigation in 2004, said in that although Saudi Arabia had been considered the primary source of funding for al Qaeda, they found no evidence of this being true. They also reported that they did not denounce the likelihood that charities sponsored by the Saudi government diverted funds to the terrorist group. So still, the question remains about the Saudi’s role in the attacks; a question that could be answered by the 28 classified pages of the congressional report.

The push for the release of the full report is part of a larger effort to pass a bill that will allow the U.S. government to sue members of the Saudi royal family for any involvement, including funding to terrorists, that they may have had in the attacks. The bill has met opposition from both the Obama administration and the Saudi royal family. If the bill is passed, the Saudi government has warned that it will sell off $750 billion worth of American assets held by the kingdom, which is seemingly problematic for the United States. With the large amount of investments that the United States has in Saudi Arabia, it does not seem wise to pass the bill. Although the redacted pages may reveal participation by the Saudi government in the 9/11 attacks, such an extreme decision could result in major damage to the U.S. economy. President Obama has also voiced his concern that if the U.S. creates the opportunity for individuals and the country to sue other governments, there will also be an opportunity for other individuals in other countries to sue the United States.

Read more: Saudi Arabia Warns of Economic Fallout if Congress Passes 9/11 Bill

It does not help that Saudi-American relations have been badly damaged by disputes over Iran, Syria and opposition by Americans of Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia’s dominant faith, the same extremist form of Islam that inspired Bin Laden, al Qaeda and the Islamic State. Even though this is true, Saudi Arabia has been a country which has traditionally aided the U.S. on counterterrorism and security. If there is in hope in repairing ties with the Saudi government, all remaining facts about 9/11 must be released to the public.

Overcrowding causing growing pains for Coastal Carolina University

As student enrollment and faculty employment continues to climb, overcrowding is becoming a prevalent issue at Coastal.

With multiple construction projects aimed at fixing issue, CCU administration has had to be creative with space allocation.

Many lecturers are losing their offices for the fall semester and are being forced to hold office hours online or elsewhere on campus.

Lecturer of Communication, Dr. Andrea Bergstrom, said that this will be a big change for everyone affected.

“I think it will be a pretty big adjustment for students and faculty,” said Bergstrom. “Lecturers carry a large course load and in any given semester one might have 150 students. Those students are now not going to have the same access to faculty. Since there are 6 lecturers in comm and each have around 150 students a piece, there are a lot of students that are going to have less access to this particular group of faculty, which I am a part of.”

Due to the lack of space, lecturers are having to move office hours online or by appointment only.

Bergstrom said that this could shift the relationship between students and faculty.

“We’re going to have online office hours but it really impacts the student/faculty relationship,” said Bergstrom. “The type of conversations and interactions we have via g-chat versus a face-to-face office setting are very limited. Some topics really require a face-to-face interaction.”

While some feel that students and faculty will be negatively affected, Associate Professor of Communication and incoming chair of the department, Dr. Wes Fondren, said he thinks it could be a positive situation.

“I think this, in some ways, might help student retention,” said Fondren. “Faculty members will end up being more available online and if you think about how most students want to meet with the faculty members, they want someone they can chat with or can logon to the Moodle forum or they can email. Faculty will also have office hours in the library, dorms, or other areas on campus. As odd as it might sound, one of the surprise effects might be that the faculty members end up being where students are at more, rather than them having to come to us.”

Offices are not the only thing being impacted by the lack of space.

Some classes are being held in the library, student union and even in the dorms.

Fondren said that these locations offer a unique classroom experience.

“I have been extremely impressed with how the university has tackled this problem,” said Fondren. “I teach a class in the movie theatre and it’s a super cool room. I’m able to show movie clips and have great sound, which you wouldn’t have in a normal classroom.”

Because of the immediate need for space, even Coastal’s administration has to make sacrifices.

According to Fondren, the Dean of the Edwards, Daniel Ennis is doing all that he can to help the issue with space.

“Even the dean had a temporary wall put up in his office to cut it in half so that he could share his office with someone else,” said Fondren. “Even from the top-down, his willingness to do something unusual for a while to get through this is very encouraging.”

Although inconvenient for some, the overcrowding is temporary.

The current projects geared at helping with the lack of space are estimated to be completed in the next year.

Construction of Britain II and a $7 million renovation to the Smith Science Building are set to be finished in the summer of 2017, while the Science annex is predicted to be completed by the end of May 2016.

While Coastal may be experiencing “growing pains,” data from the National Student Clearinghouse in 2015 showed overall college enrollment in a decline.

The study found that enrollment at postsecondary institutions had decreased by 1.7% from the previous year.

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Bergstrom said that she has experienced the decline first hand.

“Having worked previously at a university that had major retention issues and a declining student body, we had a lot of space but not the students to fill them,” said Bergstrom. “I think that it is a good problem to have as far as problems go. It means that the school is growing and is high demand and that is obviously good for our university and for our majors.”

Fondren also stressed that, although it may be uncomfortable, growth is a good problem to have.

“I have friends at other schools where their problem is that they have empty classrooms and their universities aren’t growing,” said Fondren. “We’re seeing a lot of universities get smaller but what is happening here for us is that we are experiencing the painful positive of growth, like when a kid’s shoes are too tight. In a weird sort of way, this is exciting. The problems that we have are the problems that you want to look for in a school.”

RIDE III road projects warrant one cent sales tax increase

The Ride III commission committee voted on a preliminary list of road projects that it says warrants a one cent sales tax increase for Horry County residents.

After various meetings, the commission decided on 13 projects considered to have high priority, as well as 100 miles of dirt road paving and an additional 100 miles of road resurfacing.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 2.14.56 PM
Photo of the 13 road projects recommended in the preliminary RIDE III project listing.

A six-lane widening of U.S. 501, four-lane widening of Carolina Forest Blvd, extending S.C. 31 to the North Carolina state-line, extending Fred Nash Boulevard to connect with Harrelson Boulevard and widening Forestbrook Road are just a few that are highlighted in the recommended project listing.

It is estimated that these projects will require a $590 million budget to execute, but the Department of Transportation estimated a much larger budget needed to complete all of the vital road improvements throughout the county.

According to Director of the RIDE III commission, Eddie Dyer, a one cent sales tax increase is essential because of the lack of funding from the state and government. 

“The feds aren’t giving us any money this year,” said Dyer. “The state of South Carolina gave us $10 million. Now, if you put $10 million beside $1.944 billion, you can see why the one cent sales tax is being proposed.”

Conway resident Jody Nyers said the challenge for the commission is going to be how to prioritize the projects.

“I truly believe that all these projects have an importance and now it is that matter of prioritizing them,” said Nyers. “What I feel is important might be different then what somebody else feels important, but I do believe that we need to get 501. It’s my number one priority or at least it would be in my mind.”

If approved in November 2016, the sales tax will go into effect May 2017 and will last eight years.

The tax will include all retail sales, prepared food, beverages and lodging rentals. All groceries are exempt.

Public Information Officer for Myrtle Beach, Mark Kruea, said that residents recognize that the need for the sales tax increase is imperative.

“The voters have approved it on 2 different occasions,” said Kruea “They understand that by virtue of all of the visitors that we get, that not only their money but all of the visitor’s money goes to pay for these road projects that we couldn’t afford any other way. The voters already said yes to it twice before so that is a good sign.”

Nyers, who has followed the initiatives since RIDE I, expressed support for the tax increase because it is being used for something that is beneficial.

“I’ve been here for RIDE I and RIDE II but I agree RIDE III mainly because the 1 cent sales tax,” said Nyers. “Anyway that we can collect money to then use it for the purpose of paving and widening is beneficial and the only way we’re going to get money to do any of this is by putting out something like a one cent sales tax. I’m a person that believes that if I’m going to pay taxes, I will gladly pay an extra cent if I know for a fact that money is going to these road improvements or establishments of new roads.”

Because of Myrtle Beach’s location, many visitors come to enjoy the beach and spend money during heavy tourist seasons like spring and summer.

Dyer said that the revenue from the tourists should take some of the costs away from residents.

“With my committee, what we’re trying to say is that this can be done with a one cent sales tax,” said Dyer. “We are a very heavy tourist area and those tourists are going to pay close to half of the overall tax. This helps take some of the burden of paying off of residents.”

If the sales tax is not approved, Horry County will only have the $10 million given to it by the state of South Carolina and will have to rework its plans entirely.

“There’s no plan B,”  said Dyer. “If you’re happy with the roads and the traffic situation around here the way it is don’t worry about the penny sales tax.”

Horry County residents will have the chance to vote in November 2016 during the primary elections.

ISIS threatens social media moguls, Zuckerberg and Dorsey in recent video

A recent video made by supporters of ISIS threatens Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey for fighting back against terrorism on their social media platforms.

The group who call themselves the Sons of Caliphate released a 25-minute propaganda video titled “Flames of the Supporters.”

A team of deep web analysts at Vocativ discovered the video on the social media message-sharing site, Telegram, which ISIS frequently uses.

The video shows photos of the two social media moguls covered in bullet holes and engulfed in flames.

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A screenshot from the recent video released by the Islamic State, showing Dorsey and Zuckerberg.

It also shows hackers allegedly modifying profile accounts and posting Islamic state propaganda.

The video was posted in response to the action by Facebook and Twitter to combat terrorism by suspending accounts and removing posts that encourage terrorism and could provoke violence.

Twitter announced in a blog post in February that the company had suspended over 125,000 accounts that contained threatening content primarily related to ISIS.

“We condemn the use of Twitter to promote terrorism and the Twitter Rules make it clear that this type of behavior, or any violent threat, is not permitted on our service,” the blog post reads.

Assistant Professor of Intelligence and National Security Studies at Coastal Carolina University, Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis, said that ISIS needs social media platforms in order to expand.

“ISIS actually is very much in need of this media in order to promote it’s national agenda,” said Fitsanakis. “One thing that makes ISIS different from other terrorist groups is that ISIS is an international group. It has an international agenda. It has international followers. So it needs these platforms, the online platforms, in order to reach them.”

In the video the group claimed to have hacked over 10,000 Facebook accounts, 150 Facebook groups and 5000 accounts on Twitter and said that a number of these accounts have been handed over to their supporters.

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Screenshot taken from the Islamic State’s video showing the alleged number of hacks made by the group.

The video concludes with a direct threat to the CEOs and their companies.

“You announce daily that you suspend many of our accounts, and to you we say: Is that all you can do? You are not in our league,” the video clip reads.  “If you close one account we will take 10 in return and soon your names will be erased after we delete your sites, Allah willing, and will know that we say is true.”

In a recent interview with the CEO of Axel Springer, Mathias Dopfner, Zuckerberg expressed uneasiness that spans beyond the recent video threat.

“I am very concerned but not because of the video,” he told Mathias Döpfner. “There have been worse threats.”

Similar threats were made to Zuckerberg by a Pakistani extremist a few years ago. The extremist called for Zuckerberg to be sentenced to death because the company refused to remove a group that encouraged the illustration of the prophet Mohammad, an act that is illegal in Pakistan.

Related: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg reveals 2010 Pakistan death threat

After the attacks at Charlie Hebdo, a kosher grocery store in Paris, Zuckerberg responded in a post on Facebook that encouraged the “need to reject a group of extremists trying to silence the voices and opinions of everyone  else around the world.”

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Screenshot of Zuckerberg’s comments on Facebook following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris on January 7-9, 2015.

In the interview with Dopfner, Zuckerberg identified an underlying common theme in previous and current threats.

“I think the bigger issue is that what Facebook stands for in the world is giving people a voice and spreading ideas and rationalism,” said Zuckerberg.

Similar threats were also made to Twitter’s Dorsey when a self-identified group of ISIS supporters claimed that Dorsey and Twitter started a “war” against the Islamic State after suspending hundreds of the group’s social media accounts.

Related: ISIS supporters threaten Twitter founder Jack Dorsey

The Islamic State’s ultimate goal is much more complex than a war on social media.

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Coastal Carolina University, Dr. Jeffry Halverson, explained what the terrorist group is trying to achieve.

“ISIS wants to create a homogenous Sunni Muslim state that governs according to their puritanical, reactionary form of “Islamic law,” said Halverson. “The state would serve as base for attacks against regional governments deemed unacceptable or to be enemies of ISIS, as well as against foreign states that involve themselves in the region or that interfere with their ambitions, such as the United States.”