So you want to be an Internet troll?

The guidebook for becoming a shitty person

Image for post
Image for post

After seeing the meteoric rise of people like Donald Trump and Alex Jones, you’ve decided to throw the last shred of your humanity away and become an Internet troll. Screw ethics. You want the money, fame, and power that comes with being a provocateur.

It’s not as hard as you think.

As long as you have no empathy, then becoming a super successful shit-stirrer is easy. Just follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to destabilizing vital institutions in no time at all.

Never Apologize

To you, strength is all about winning. You have a point, and no matter how erroneous or inconsistent it may be (if you even have one at all), the most important thing you must do is never, ever apologize.

Apologies are for losers. They are for people trying to compromise and coexist with their fellow man, and you would rather burn the world to the fucking ground, then admit that you are a fallible human being capable of making mistakes.

Do you think the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, has ever apologized?

Donald Trump has lied more times than any other President in modern history. In his first 773 days in office, he lied over 9,000 times. That’s 11ish lies per day. That means that if you are talking to the President, chances are, he’s lying to you.

The closest apology I can find is when Donald Trump was talking about the first Nuclear summit with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un. He told the press:

“I may be wrong. I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong,’”

But this was immediately followed by:

“I don’t know I’ll ever admit that. I’ll find some excuse.”

From a trolling standpoint, Donald Trump is a genius. Even when he backtracks on a policy, he doesn’t admit responsibility for it. The new position suddenly becomes the thing he has “always” cared about since forever.

Again, being a troll is about winning, and winning is defined as being the last person standing. Other people will back down when they realize their error, but not you. You will fight on to the hazy end.

An Ideology Is Not As Important As An Enemy

Some people lead their lives following a consistent ideology, but that’s not important to you. What you care about is belonging to an in-group held together by a well-defined out-group.

Put simply; you want someone to hate.

Think about the modern Republican Party as an example. Its factions have nothing in common with each other. Some people are super religious and want to bring about the end times. Others want to continue neoliberal politics and deregulate the economy and cut taxes for the rich. More, still, believe that corporations are evil and that we need to stop Globalist treaties like NAFTA. A few think there is some government, Jew-run, post-modernist plot to keep the American public docile.

The Republican party is all over the place. It shouldn’t be a cohesive political movement, and yet, it is. The one thing these groups all have in common is that they hate “the left.” Granted the left is just as diverse and disorganized as “the right,” but the right’s hatred of liberalism is intense enough to unite most conservative trolls under a single, illogical banner. In the words of conservative commentator and troll Dan Bongino:

“We win, you lose, the new rules are in effect. My life is all about owning the libs now.”

As a troll, policy differences are not as significant to you as the chance to one-up your enemy. That’s the beauty of being a troll. You don’t need to be ideologically consistent. Discourse is an ever-changing battleground where once popular arguments can be abandoned and disagreed with at a moment’s notice.

Think about the arguments conservatives used against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. During the 2016 election, every conservative commentator was up in arms over the fact that Hillary Clinton had used a private email server while she was Secretary of State in the Obama administration.

Now that Trump is president he has repeatedly used a phone that doesn’t secure his communications. The same for Steve Bannon, Gary Cohn, Jared Kushner, and Reince Priebus.

Do these violations matter to conservative trolls?

No, because the facts were inconsequential. What mattered was taking out the enemy, Hillary Clinton. Upon hearing the news that Ivanka and Jared Kushner had used a private email server for official White House business, Senator John Kennedy, a fervent Clinton critic, responded indifferently:

“Who did what, who uses what email, and who tweets whom — I don’t know about all that. I don’t follow that. And, frankly, I don’t much care.”

You don’t need to beholden to anything, but your hatred. Choose an enemy or enemies — It doesn’t have to be just one. You don’t have to be consistent, after all — and never let them forget it. There is no equal ground. There is no real chance of compromise. All there is in the world is winning against your perceived list of threats.

Quote Inaccurate Sources, Frequently

The other side is all about facts and being right, but as we have established, you are about winning. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are technically right. It just matters that you appear correct. That you stay in the game long enough to seem to outsiders that you are engaging in discourse.

Quote sources to help keep this illusion going.

Again, no accuracy is required.

You can provide links to articles that make a contrary or unconnected position, strategically crop titles to mislead people into thinking your claim is fact-driven, or link to discredited bloggers or academics that are just as unhinged as you are.

The Left will spend an unholy amount of time disproving your bogus claims because the truth is essential to them. As Sojourner Truth once said:

“In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

Jk, Sojourner Truth didn’t really say that. It is sometimes accredited to George Orwell, but the source of the phrase is unknown, and that proves my point. In online discourse, the majority of onlookers aren’t going to bother to fact check whether the sources you post are correct — who has the time? Leftists may link to sources or reaction videos they’ve made, but how many people can honestly say they verify every link that comes across their feed?

In the meantime, while your opponent is furiously typing away an epic roast you won’t even read, you’ve just “red-pilled” (converted) several impressionable, angry 16 year-olds to your side.

The Leftist inclination for the truth is one of your greatest advantages because every effort they place into disproving your claims (claims you don’t really care about in the first place) is energy they are not spending in advancing their claims. You define winning as never backing down, and to you, attempts at clarification and fact-checking smell like a person on the defensive.

A person losing.

Ideally, you should post so many illogical and incorrect sources that the person opposing you gives up, and then you win. That corner of the Internet is now yours to organize, rally, and spread more untrue claims.

Co-opt The Other Side’s Language

Factions on the Left will always have an inherent appeal because they demand equality and vulnerability. If you are a marginalized person living in an oppressive or unequal society, then you are going to naturally gravitate towards the people that aren’t shitty to you.

And to be clear, as a troll, you are shitty to marginalized people.

This is what scholar Stacy Clifford Simplican describes in her book The Capacity Contract as a community of vulnerability. These are in-groups that value other people intrinsically for their own humanity. Communities of vulnerability are a recognition that vulnerability is a natural state of life, and people choose such communities given enough time.

As a troll, you shun vulnerability because it reminds you of your own insecurities, but at the same time, you need to take advantage of vulnerable people to grow your movement. To confuse marginalized people and their allies, you need to steal the language of vulnerability to soften your image.

In essence, you need to take language meant to help the marginalized and co-opt it for hateful purposes. Leftist language might have more appeal with the general public, but that too can be an advantage. With enough manipulation, these words can come to mean whatever you want. You can twist them to meet your sick ends.

Are people on the Left using trigger warnings to help people living with PTSD? Well, you are totally triggered over your barista not getting your order right.

Are Leftists identifying sources of Fake News, so they don’t fall victim to it in future elections? Well, now everything you disagree with is fake news.

Are people calling you a White Supremacist? Nope, you belong to the alt-right or are an Identarian.

You’re not promoting hate speech. You are an advocate of free speech.

Make the language of the vulnerable so confusing that people that would typically be against you now will ignore or even defend you. Hardcore Leftists will be able to smell this bullshit a mile away, but the moderates — the people that cling to the idea of the status quo — they might become your friends.

Shift The Subject Matter Constantly

As we have already covered, a lot of liberals have a hardon for preserving “the truth.” They want to make sure things are being said and done correctly and will sacrifice strategic advantages to understand that truth. They are willing to analyze their assumptions and biases, and like a hacker overloading a server with a DNS attack, you can do the same with rhetoric.


Never stick to a single point. You don’t care about any of the words coming out of your mouth.

Again, your only goal is to be the last person standing in the conversation.

Why let cohesion of thought get in your way?

Say something ridiculous, and then, when your Leftist opponent (or the rare conservative) responds with a well-reasoned series of facts, move on to the next subject. Don’t even bother to address their points.

A common rhetorical strategy used to help with this objective is called whataboutism. It’s when you respond to a subject matter by mentioning something completely unrelated. I tell you that Russia should be treated with caution because Putin has killed his political rivals, and you respond “What, you think our country is so innocent?”

That’s not a hypothetical scenario. Trump said that in a conversation with O’Reilly.

If you want to get a little more personal, try an ad hominem attack. If your opponent criticizes your policy positions, then follow up with an attack on their character. Say something like: “You only think that because you are a gay, socialist, commie, snowflake.”

Trump attacks people’s character a lot (i.e., Crooked Hillary), but so do his peers. Republicans are willing to demonize pretty much anyone from Nancy Pelosi to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Elizabeth Warren (a lot of women here). It doesn’t matter if these criticisms are correct, though being based tangentially in reality, does help.

Use Straw Man Arguments

You don’t have a coherent worldview. You only have enemies, and these enemies are evil and bent on the destruction of everything you hold dear.

Don’t bother to look at, say, feminists, as a diverse group of people that have multi-faceted points and opinions. They are a monolithic voice that moves through the world with a singular agenda. Feminists are an international cabal of weak-willed bureaucrats controlling everything.

You need to spread your hate of this monolithic straw man to as many people as possible. As the site complains without facts or evidence:

“Feminism is in a lot of ways like fascism.”

It’s vague, dramatic, and easily disprovable. It’s perfect.

The best way to make a straw man argument is to Google the definition you are talking about. Get the simplest definition you can find, preferably one that is only two or three sentences long, and use it to discuss this philosophy or group without even diving into its proper historical context.

Anti-feminist YouTubers such as The Amazing Atheist love using this tactic. They Google the word feminism and get a one-sentence reply, and then proceed to deconstruct that sentence, and that sentence alone, as if it were the embodiment of what all feminists think. So if Google tells them that feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes” they’ll respond with something like “what about men’s rights?” or “feminists want everyone to be the same.” Anti-feminists make these claims often ignoring the reality that a lot of feminists advocate for male empowerment or individual liberty.

If you want to be a successful troll, then don’t attempt to humanize, or worse still, research the group you are demonizing.

A lack of context is your friend.

Other strategies include making up things about this group or anecdotally using one example from this group as the embodiment of what they all think (cue redhaired feminist video).

Everything Is A Joke

Let’s say all these other strategies have failed. Somehow you’ve stumbled into a corner of the Internet that isn’t backing down, doesn’t respect your incorrect use of language, and isn’t bothering to respond to your illogical points and sources. They know what you are trying to do, and they are not having it.

Well, if this happens, then you were joking. You weren’t serious about this subject matter at all. Couldn’t they tell you were being sarcastic, ironic, or just plain funny? This strategy has worked for people at all levels.

When Alex Jones was in the middle of a custody battle for his kids, he asserted that his conspiracy-driven Internet show, Infowars, wasn’t real news. He was playing a character.

When Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith joked she’d be in the front row of a public hanging in a state with a dark history of lynchings, she wasn’t racist. It was a joke.

And of course, there is prankster Donald Trump. Trump says he is joking a lot.

Ejecting a baby from a rally? Naw, bro, he was pranking you. But not really.

Telling Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s email server? A Joke.

Claiming he’s envious of Kim Jong-un’s rule? Just kidding.

When you are a troll, nothing is serious. As trollster Milo Yiannopoulos lamented falsely in his book Dangerous:

“Trolling has many elements. It’s often about telling truths that others don’t want to hear. It’s about tricking, pranking, and generally riling up your targets. And it’s about creating a hilarious, entertaining public spectacle.”

It doesn’t matter if those “truths” equate to real harm in the form of death threats, doxxing, physical violence, or the destabilization of your democracy. If you want to be the funniest troll out there, then you need to follow these men’s lead and deny everything under the banner of humor.

If your critics don’t like what you have to say, then they’re the prudes who “can’t take a joke.” You are simply “telling it like it is.”

The best part is, though you weren’t joking — you do hate liberals, gays, or whatever group or topic you were disparaging at that moment — you weren’t attached to the words that you were saying. They were just white noise to move you an inch towards victory.

So in a way, you were joking.

To you, the concept of discourse is a game to be won.

TL; DR — Successful Trolls Are Patient

Being a troll is a balancing act. You have to continually be assessing public opinion to know where the gray spaces are that you can take advantage of. If you go too far too quickly, then large portions of the population will stop supporting you, and start seeing you for the piece of shit that you actually are.

We see this with trolls Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos of InfoWars and Breitbart infamy, disrespectfully. These people trafficked in wildly untrue conspiracy theories that were so disgusting to the mainstream public that they have been fully or partially deplatformed.

Alex Jones has been kicked off of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and is currently facing multiple lawsuits for spreading a conspiracy theory about the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting (he falsely claims it never happened).

Milo Yiannopoulos has also been kicked off Twitter, Patreon, and no longer works for Breitbart.

Don’t worry. Deplatforming is not an inevitability (looking at you Tomi Lahren). It is the work of vigilant and brave citizens that are willing to break norms in order to shame trolls and their financial supporters into submission.

If you are patient and careful enough, then you too can continue to amass power. Look at Donald Trump. He looked into running for President at least four other times (and actually ran and lost once before as a member of the Reform Party). When he finally did run in 2015, most people thought it was a joke. Lolz.

With hard work and no empathy for your fellow man, you, too, can be a powerful piece of shit.

Congratulations, you did it! Since you made it to the end of this article, you should follow me here on Medium. I write about pop culture, politics, and feelings. Who doesn’t love feelings? You can also find me on Instagram, and if you want to help me continue doing this, then consider supporting me over at Patreon. Hope to see you around!

Written by

I write about pop culture, politics, and every in between.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store