It doesn’t take more than a few moments scrolling through your timeline on Twitter or Facebook before your realize “wow — there’s a lot of assholes on the Internet!”
Sure, but are you one of them?
Surely, you’re not. It’s always easy to police tone in your own head. After all you didn’t mean it that way — or did you?
Your opinions are easier to digest because you already agree with them. This self-confirmation bias and ease of communication across social platforms lends itself to a whole fuckton of Internet assholes, and like it or not at one point or another you and I may have been one of them.
So I devised what I call “The Guide to Internet Assholes 101” as a helpful guide to avoid continuing to be one.
1. Twitter Bullies (see also FB/Reddit bullies)
The obvious Internet asshole. Whether you agree or disagree with him, the first person that likely comes to mind is Trump. However, this asshole exists on the Left and the Right (and beyond politics) and needn’t have millions of followers to qualify. All that is needed is a large enough platform to allow a pile-on effect (where the bullies followers join in on the bullying).
I encountered one such asshole today, a member of social justice Twitter. Since I’m not an asshole, I won’t name them. However, they made an inflammatory characterization of a respected Progressive and I politely disagreed in my tweet, which featured an autocorrect typo. They proceeded to latch onto that instead of addressing my reply, and insulted me to their 50k followers. Bullying quickly ensued. I would have liked to reply, but they blocked me after their hit-and-run attack on me.
This is Twitter bullying 101. Despite her goal of social justice, she is of no help to that movement by belittling everyone in her path. Her goal and the goal of those bullies like her is not to engage, but to serve as a sort of flamethrower, insulting and arguing with people as a part of their brand. Their brand is asshole.
2. The “I Disagree!” Asshole.
This one comes in all forms. Most common in egg-accounts and those accounts with sub 20-follower counts, their main agenda on social media is to argue pointlessly with those who will never agree with them. Essentially this is troll behavior because it is pointless. It is a form of harassment.
At the end of the day, these people aren’t looking to debate or positively engage, they’re just looking to say “I disagree!” as pettily and annoyingly as possible to get a rise out of the person they disagree with. Assholes, all.
3. The smug asshole
Most common in comedians who wouldn’t even disagree with being characterized as an asshole, this is also a universal category of Internet asshole.
Delivering sick burns for Internet high fives, this intelligent prick delivers put downs to smug satisfaction. This guy or gal is all about not only feeling superior, but showing they are. They relish in their intelligence and flaunt it to where it comes across as supremely smug. Sure those “I disagree!” trolls often prove easy fodder for this kind of (often funny) smug put-down, but it doesn’t make you any less of an asshole than they are. We know you’re smart, but you can be smart without also being an asshole.
4. The I’M RIGHT! Asshole
Among the most insufferable assholes of the entire net is the person who can never loose an argument.
Let’s say you’ve gotten into a respectful debate, one where you exchange your POV, presumably backed by some facts. Now you’ve won the argument, according to others as well, but Jeff45621 can’t admit defeat. In a land where facts and figures do not apply, good old Jeff is ready to fight to the death knell even after everyone else has already left the debate. He’s still posting biased links and stupid YouTube videos long after.
You blocked him, but in his wake 3 new egghead accounts popped up to continue the assault. Hey Jeff! Get a life, asshole.
I’m sure I could find more examples, but this is just a 101 guide and not at all comprehensive. It’s merely a primer on Internet asshole that certainly seems to get at quite a few repeat offenders. If you saw yourself in any of these examples, reevaluate yourself because chances are people think you’re an asshole. Even if proud of that, that branding comes with a lot of social responsibility and you better respect that even if you don’t always respect others.
over and out! — MK