In real life, society demands that you’ve got to be a nice, decent, and polite person. A little tiring, though, isn’t it? Thankfully, that’s not so on the Internet! Bombs away! But maybe you aren’t sure where to start with your digital jerkdom, so here’s a list for you.
General ground rules
Here online you’re free to be an ass, letting insults fly at whim. And it’s totally okay. You’re safe in your fortress of solitude, in front of your computer, too far from any repercussions. It’s basically a victimless crime.
Being a little bit of a jerk isn’t good enough on the web, though; you’ve either got to go full jerk or not bother dialing up to your AOL account (using your free CD). Go big, or go back to real life.
Without further adieu, here’s the ultimate guide to being a total jerk on the Internet, and the 7th point will surprise you (read: blatant clickbait).
Screw the issue, go after the person.
Arguing online requires deft and precision. This simply cannot be achieved without playing dirty. Hit below the belt as often and as quickly as possible to achieve maximum jerkiness. Character assassination carries more weight than an argument of logic. Science and facts don’t sell headlines, but slander sure does! There’s a reason ad hominem makes any claim from your opponent, however valid, false.
Assume the other person was asking for your opinion, even if they didn’t ask for your opinion.
Remember, you’re the expert (the topic at hand is irrelevant). Whenever anything is written, posted, tweeted or shared online, you’ve got licence to weigh in. Two cents? Nay! Inflation is real and interest rates are low, so go all in. Knowledge will only cloud your judgement and abilities, so the less you know about a topic, a product, a book, or an event, the better.
Only reply when you’re really angry or upset.
Raw emotion takes a boring disagreement to an all out nuclear war. There’s no time like present—the angry present—to give someone a piece of your mind. This primes you for personal attacks and saying things that you’ll definitely not regret saying later.
Master humblebrags (because no one can see through those).
Simple bragging doesn’t make you a jerk, it’s too honest. Don’t just own and love your own accomplishments, figure out how to tell as many people as possible about them, all the while seeming like through all your success you’ve stayed true to your humble roots.
Misrepresent what other people say, and then do it again and again.
The best way to cause trouble online is to take everything out of context. Someone said something to defend their point of view? That’s boring! Be creative, and take a small piece of what they said and use against them. For example, “I’m not into saving the planet, we need to go further and become true stewards who live in symbiosis with our environment.” That comment easily becomes, “I’m not into saving the planet!” It’s also much more tweetable, too.
Apologizing means you suck at arguing.
Apologizing is for people who give up on arguments too easily (and for socialist Canadians). To truly get the best of someone else online, you’ve to stand by your point, especially if it’s proven wrong. You don’t have to be right, you’ve just got to be the last person left shouting. Take things too far and don’t be sorry when you do.
Being closed-minded just means your views are airtight.
Be secure in your self-righteousness. Opinions, circumstances, or points of view that differ from your own only serve as fodder for letting your opinion be known. The less you open yourself up to new ideas and opportunities, the easier it is to hold firm to your existing ideas. Surround yourself with others who either readily agree to everything you have to say or hold the exact same opinion as you. There’s strength in numbers and angry mobs aren’t to be taken lightly.
Be passive-aggressive in everything.
If you’re forced to be polite to someone else, make sure it’s thinly veiled. Every compliment can be a backhanded insult. For example, “You aren’t as dumb as you look.” Bonus points for multiple backhands in just seven words!
To really win an argument, you’ve got to have the longest retort.
Luckily there’s no premium price on words or characters in an online argument. This means you simply have to out-write or out-stay the other person. The longer, more winding, and less cohesive your point, the better. You’ll win more simply because the other side will give up after a few days. War of attrition works.
Listening is for losers.
Assuming you’re always right (which you are), you don’t need to hear what other people have to say. Even this article—I hope you tuned out after the third point (or at least just skimmed for out-of-context remarks you could use against me). The only time you should stop talking or writing is when you need a quick break for sustenance. Waiting your turn in a debate never leads you closer to victory.
Look, I get it.
The world would be a better place if we all just respected each other and our work. Or simply ignored things that didn’t resonate. Or didn’t feel the need to tell others (in public) what you specifically don’t like about them or what they create. There’d be campfires and Kumbayas and launches free from quick criticisms. But the web simply doesn’t work like that, and you’ve got to stay behind the jerk cannon instead of accidentally wandering in front of it.
It’s all too easy to be a jerk online. It can happen without even thinking about it. A simple email or update on social can turn a well-intentioned bit of advice into a total jerk maneuver. Or sometimes we mistakenly think the creator wanted—or even needed—our opinion on the matter.
If by some odd chance or weird alternate universe opposite-world reality you don’t want to be a jerk, simply follow the above in reverse. Because the opposite of being a jerk is being a decent human being. Boring? maybe. Although it may have a better endgame in mind.