They Opened The Floor, And You Won’t Believe What Happened Next

Do you remember a time when Letters To The Editor were the only form of outrage? When we read things, raised our eyebrows, and promptly went about our business?

No, neither do I.

This is a half-post, half-poll, because I want to know what it is that’s making you so upset on the internet. What affronts you? What does it take for you to see red?

What's Getting You So Upset On The Internet?It’s partly inspired by this rather excellent Guardian article (I know, I know. I’m a salady sandal-stroking Guardian whore. There are worse things I could be) called The dark side of Guardian comments”, which analysed over 70 million comments left on their website in order to find out who or what had elicited the most trolling and abuse over the past 9 years.

Amongst other conclusions, the analysis found that writers for the paper who were women, or who were black or gay men, were more likely to get online abuse than anyone else. You can form your own theory as to who is doing most of the trolling. I know I did. It took me all of 5 seconds. But I’m not talking about the typical keyboard warrior here. I’m talking about you. And me. The self-professed normal people. Why do we get upset by some things we read?

You might remember the famous Monty Python Argument Clinic sketch. The one where Michael Palin walks into an office and says, “I’d like to have an argument please”.

The internet has turned out to be a bit like this, except there is only one willing participant. The problem with internet arguments is that only one of the combatants want to be there – the one who started it.


Picture the scene. It is 1pm, and the Internet hasn’t eaten since 5 minutes ago.

You: Hello, I’d like to say something please.

The Internet: Certainly. Please sign here for argumentation.

You: I don’t want to fight with anybody. I just want to say something.

The Internet: But that means you have an opinion, right?

You: Well, yes, but it’s only my opinion. It doesn’t mean I want to force it on anybody.

The Internet: I think you’ll find in your online contract, which you agreed to when you logged in, paragraph 16, section 93, subsection (xxxiii), that publishing an opinion legally permits the entire world to find fault with it.

You: What, for saying that I prefer Irish Wolfhounds to Pomeranians?!

The Internet shudders, and keels over. Moments later, it revives and fixes you with a beady stare.

The Internet: You should have said it was as bad as that. That’s going to cost you your job, and the love and support of extended family members. Now hand over your phone, before you do any more damage.


Embed from Getty Images


So far, around 3,500 comments have been left on this blog by other people. On balance I would say they are 99.5% chatty, 0.6%* combative, which is hardly surprising, seeing as it’s extremely difficult to take me seriously (even I have problems with it).

I get hardly any trolling, and no real abuse at all. Comments which find fault with me or my viewpoint generally only occur when I write incendiary post titles I just know are going to land me in the poo with somebody who’s never been here before.

Other sites are a different story. The trend for confessional journalism – where writers are constantly forced to put themselves in the story, whether they want to or not – means that almost everything nowadays is taken both literally and seriously.

As the writer of one of the few non-personal blogs I’m aware of, and a habitual messer, I’m constantly trying to figure out my place in this universe of openness and visceral reactions. Incendiary post titles aside, it’s a universe full of surprises. Because the thing you think is going to raise hackles is never the hackle raiser (now say that 5 times, quickly).

They Opened The Floor, And You Won't Believe What Happened Next

I recently shared a newspaper article on Facebook which seemed to be a fairly innocuous opinion piece. It was about a place, rather than any particular person or even any particular aspect of humanity. It just interested me enough to challenge my viewpoint. The first reaction posted underneath was vehement. The article was ridiculous. It was written by someone equally ridiculous. And I needed my head examined for sharing it.

That’s less than nothing in the grand scheme of things. Within our circles of online acquaintance, we frequently see examples of grievous offence at something somebody apparently shouldn’t have said. Just yesterday I saw an exchange about successful lifestyle bloggers in a Facebook group descend into inexplicably scalded madness. I could hear the injured tones across six postcodes.

And Facebook isn’t even the worst of it. A barrage of Twitterstorms and Snapjudgements™ has resulted in the destruction of reputations and livelihoods, just because of an inability to see some things in the context in which they were meant. Mix this with the modern love of passive aggression, and you’ve got yourself a fine case of the upsets.

What's Getting You So Upset On The Internet?

It made me wonder, with all this hypersensitivity about, what puts somebody out enough to make the effort of making a negative comment online? What’s your trigger?

One man’s trigger might be misandry; another’s might be the advocacy of coconut oil over olive oil in the preparation of mushroom burgers. But triggers abound. The internet is a minefield of push-button offence which can appear to the bystander to be as insane as it is arbitrary.

But to at least one of the persons involved, it always makes sense. So with that in mind, I really want to hear your comments. Have you ever been offended enough to take someone to task? Or have you ever received a negative comment which made you scratch your head? What’s your trigger? Tell me. I won’t bite.

I swear.

* That was a test, to see if you were reading properly. Now, off you go.

  106 comments for “They Opened The Floor, And You Won’t Believe What Happened Next

  1. April 14, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Usually, I’m rather cheerful, even-tempered, but I thought to stimulate interest in my blog (www.scifibookreview) very recently by titling it, “Outrage” and proceeded to be outraged by those who kept knocking Amazon…usually a self publisher who probably wouldn’t have authored a book if it weren’t for Amazon. Taking potshots at Amazon seems to be the sport of the day, so I thought it might get a reaction. Meh.

    I probably need to do more social media, but everyone seems so… outraged all the time, and I then need to drink too much coffee and eat more chocolate to compensate. What about you?

    Liked by 3 people

    • April 14, 2016 at 9:24 am

      You’re right, Sheron. There wasn’t a tenth of this outrage before the internet. I wonder if it’s because people are transferring a dissatisfaction with life online, but then that could mean that their lives were the better for it, which doesn’t seem likely, does it?


  2. April 14, 2016 at 8:36 am

    As I’ve already told you, Tara, I do my best to be inoffensive. I even choose my clothes carefully, and wear the same neutral outfit every day (though I suppose the smell is starting to get to some people).

    But, at the end of the day, if anyone does take offence at anything I write, well… F**k ’em. (Did you edit that?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 14, 2016 at 9:26 am

      It’s not the smell, Graeme. It’s the colour. The National Society Against Beigeness has asked me to comment on your outfit, but I’m too offended by your swearing to even type right now. Like, I literally can’t even.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. April 14, 2016 at 8:39 am

    I have ventured onto Wattpad where readers don’t hold back with their opinions. It has been like a ‘bad comment’ training module for me and it has hardened me up. I think the worst type of comment is where they question why you are a writer in view of something they didn’t enjoy reading. I question myself all the time on this so it hits a raw nerve. Good post!

    Liked by 4 people

    • April 14, 2016 at 9:27 am

      That sounds horrendous! But as a matter of interest, then, what are you getting out of it, if a significant percentage of commenters are just using Wattpad to vent their spleens? Is it worth it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 14, 2016 at 9:30 am

        For me as a newbie author it has been a very valuable experience. I got spotted by one of the editorial team who gave me a Featured slot. I now have 69k followers who I have no idea what to do with and my bad attempt at vampire fiction book is at 20 in charts. It does feel like the Wild West at times and some comments do make you take a sharp in take of breath but then you get readers saying some really nice stuff and it’s a balancing act. It’s a great training ground for Amazon me thinks 🙂

        Liked by 5 people

        • April 14, 2016 at 9:37 am

          Well, that sounds like a major coup, so huge congratulations to you on success in the lion’s den! I can see why the risk was worth it. Of course that’s only if things work out. If they don’t, then it’s a silly vindictive platform full of wannabes, has-beens and also-rans who wouldn’t know a decent story if it bit them on the arse 😉

          Liked by 2 people

          • April 14, 2016 at 10:19 am

            Agree!! Raising coffee cup to you! They also use emojis to express their opinions – that brown one is well used lol!!

            Liked by 2 people

        • April 14, 2016 at 11:14 am

          That’s a great point, Lucy. Negative criticism is not the enemy; indifference is. I can attest to that as I have but a handful of followers on Wattpad (none of whom ever criticize my work) 😀

          Liked by 3 people

          • April 14, 2016 at 11:21 am

            You are not living the dream then lol! After Wattpad I think I can handle Amazon. The worst thing I did was last weekend killing off a much loved character in bad attempt at vampire fiction – I was DELUGED with emotional criticisms from depressed followers. Very stressful for me. Am now trying to write character back in….Lol!!

            Liked by 3 people

            • April 14, 2016 at 11:32 am

              That’s wonderful, actually. Shows you how much people care about said character. Well done!

              Liked by 3 people

              • April 14, 2016 at 11:36 am

                Really? I didn’t see it like that. The experience made me feel really guilty. Some of them told me they were so upset they couldn’t read it anymore and one girl said she could not bring herself to vote. I felt so bad / a literary party pooper. I have never received so many comments about a character decision. I feel like writing to them all saying “trust me…I know what I am doing..I am a writer!” – sigh!!!

                Liked by 2 people

                • April 14, 2016 at 11:51 am

                  Good grief, whatever you do, don’t feel guilty! It’ll take all the fun out of it!

                  Liked by 2 people

                • April 14, 2016 at 11:55 am

                  You don’t need to. Trust me, they’ll come back. You’re making them feel things, and that’s all that matters 🙂

                  Liked by 4 people

  4. April 14, 2016 at 9:01 am

    I’ve had occasion to debate opinions but so far day have gone beyond debate. I have commented on op-ed pieces if I think I might add an alternate view and never received anything other than courtesy. But some op-ed pieces stray into territory where I refuse to engage. I pass by in the other side. Perhaps my background in commercial law where daily trolling was a part of ‘robust’ negotiation has helped me develop a thick skin. But equally maybe I’ve just not yet experienced the sort of stuff you mention and I’m being naive (or smug) or both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 14, 2016 at 9:31 am

      I wonder if half the problem is that some people think that any alternate viewpoint is a ‘negative’ comment. Every opposing viewpoint, however mildly expressed, is starting to be seen as argumentative. But then again I think people have become more argumentative in general so perhaps they’re right.

      Oh dear. Think I’ve gone and argued myself into a hole. Anyone got a winch handy?

      Liked by 2 people

  5. April 14, 2016 at 9:25 am

    It’s funny. I run an art gallery and I’ve noticed that in the last few years the comments in the Visitors Book have become much more cruel and personal if someone doesn’t like the art. I do think it’s linked to the culture of commenting on the internet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 14, 2016 at 9:34 am

      That’s fascinating, Cathy. I really wish someone would do a proper study of this stuff. The Guardian comment analysis is great, but it doesn’t shed any light on why people do it. What the hell is wrong with just not taking to something, and moving on? Why does everybody have to go as far as disliking things now? Is Facebook to blame?

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 14, 2016 at 9:37 am

        I find it weird. People used to write things like ‘not for me’ but now it’s all ‘go back to art school’ or ‘my 6 year old could do this’. It’s a bit depressing really.

        Liked by 1 person

        • April 14, 2016 at 9:40 am

          Very. Particularly as it looks like you’re going to have to start moderating your Visitors Book. Although I would read any one of those comments as sour grapes, myself.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. April 14, 2016 at 10:16 am

    I try not to get involved when I see arguments and people getting worked up on Facebook, even though I often have an opinion. Although, I have to admit, I cannot ignore ‘hippy haters’ – those people who pigheadedly ignore climate change and cheer when a tree is chopped down…

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 14, 2016 at 10:28 am

      My God, who cheers when a tree is chopped down? Just shows there’s a place on the internet for everyone, no matter how objectionable!

      Liked by 3 people

  7. April 14, 2016 at 11:17 am

    I was going to say that for us authors, at least, it’s indifference that’s the enemy; not negative comments. Having said that, I can’t remember the last time I publically participated in a flame war. I don’t have the time, you see.

    Of course, the mere notion of someone advocating using coconut oil over olive oil in the preparation of mushroom burgers made me see red, but I’ll refrain from flaming you to a crisp. For now.

    Liked by 3 people

    • April 14, 2016 at 11:39 am

      I’ll fight you in hand to hand combat over the coconut oil, Nick. It’ll be a crappy fight, and an oily mess, but when an issue is this important – well. I need say no more.

      Liked by 2 people

      • April 14, 2016 at 11:57 am

        Well, obviously it’s important. After all, the whole of the 5th century BC Athenian glory was based on olive oil. Sp, ’nuff said. Just say when and where.

        Mind you, I’ll be a couple hours late. I want to give you enough time to find the place :b

        Liked by 2 people

  8. carousel1234
    April 14, 2016 at 11:32 am

    I know it’s terribly wrong of me but I skip merrily over the outrage on social media and concentrate on the positive.
    I love a good argument. Don’t get me wrong. But face to face. Call me old fashioned.

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 14, 2016 at 11:41 am

      It would be great if we could skip past entirely, but the problem is that you still have to see them in order to skip past them. It would be better if people stopped getting so outraged over nothing and looked at more cat pictures, quite frankly.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. April 14, 2016 at 11:59 am

    So for the most part I just shrug and move along. Just guessing, I imagine that very few people actually care, the Internet allows a very large voice to small groups, which is good and bad but that is the nature of tools — they can often be used for good or bad. A fun thing to do is share Onion articles and see who takes them seriously. 😆

    Funny enough though, I just told a person off who gave me unasked advice on a comment I left on another person’s blog. I was just being funny in my original comment but some random stranger took me far too serious and gave me a bunch of unneeded advice. Which, yeah, it triggered me. To give people advice like that, it has to be earned. This lady didn’t know me and made assumptions about me and well, it made me angry.

    Liked by 3 people

    • April 14, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      I wonder though whether the people who actually take the time to vent their spleens online are representative of a larger number of still angry people who don’t actually say anything about it. I’m with you on the unwarranted advice. It would drive me nuts. I find it hard not to answer that facetiously and when you’re talking people who don’t get the joke in the first place… well. Carnage ensues. Great craic altogether!

      Liked by 3 people

  10. April 14, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    First, Irish Wolfhounds suck and Pomeranians are the best. Now that we’ve settled that, let’s move on to the rest of your post . . .

    I don’t know if we’ve become less civil here in the Age of the Internet, just that obnoxious people have more opportunities to be obnoxious, and now they get to spout there opinions all over the place, instead of just across the dinner table (or wherever).

    I’m argumentative by nature, but I also think that aspect of my personality is tempered by thoughtfulness and tolerance. At least, I like to think so. I think I enjoy challenging people because it’s the way I engage with others, and also test their mettle, I suppose.

    I don’t moderate comments on my blog, other than for first time comments, and I’ve often wondered about people who feel the need to approve each comment.

    Liked by 3 people

    • April 14, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      I was going to enter into a diatribe of doggie disgust there, Karen, but then I remembered I didn’t care, so I stopped. Cool, eh?

      I do the same regarding comment moderation. Although I think some folk who moderate everything have sadly had the bad experiences to back up their cautious approach. As yet I’m blissfully ignorant of such things. Not other things, though. Unlike you. You know nothing about Irish Wolfhounds. Nothing. No offence.

      Liked by 2 people

    • April 14, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      Karen is clearly in the wrong on this one. Irish Wolfhounds are clearly the superior canine. They can keep whole families safe from wolves (and sub as a temporary form of transportation for the younger set) while Pomeranians can barely be trusted to keep a handbag clean.

      I moderate every comment that goes on my site, however, I mostly use this power to fix the occasional typo before it goes live (and edit out all those extra xoxoxos my mom keeps trying to sneak in). I don’t mind if people disagree with my opinion or challenge me as long as they do it respectfully.

      Liked by 2 people

      • April 14, 2016 at 4:41 pm

        There’s the word, Allie – respectfully. Which would be ideal, if one man’s respectful wasn’t another man’s tyranny. Ah, the internet. The place where everyone is equal in the eye of the offended.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. April 14, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    I commented on an article on Facebook that said landlords couldn’t refuse social welfare recipiants saying no one could make me accept a social welfare recipient if I didn’t want to. It caused world war three between a young relative and me. She went as far a to say she was reporting me to the authorities. She was having difficulties getting a house for herself and 2 children and blaming everyone but herself for the situation she was in. ( she had left three previous house that DID accept welfare cheques )We still don’t speak …I still laugh about it :p

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 14, 2016 at 3:22 pm

      That’s so sad, Trish! I know it’s laughable but that anyone could get themselves so worked up over one comment… is it the difference between things being written down and spoken aloud that gets people so het up, I wonder? I must start writing everything my family says down, and see how many of them I’m still talking to by the end of the year. On a more solemn note, I think the internet has become a place of refuge for all blame-deferrers. My life isn’t going as I’d like right now; you said something I didn’t like; ergo it must be your fault.

      Liked by 3 people

      • April 14, 2016 at 3:48 pm

        I’d love to say she’s young an innocent but she’s not so young…and definitely not so innocent. I’ve just decided it’s her problem, not mine. She has been for counselling since then…so please God she’ll calm down.Thankfully, she got a house..( yes, another one) I’m sure she will find fault somewhere with that too…jaysis…families, who’d want them?

        Liked by 1 person

  12. April 14, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    I am living through a troll’s dream here in the US with this presidential election. Somebody hates every one of the candidates and their comments tend to leave a WTF miasma around them. The amount of lies that get repeated is amazing, and the comments have been a great vehicle for the spreading of disinformation.

    I get most angry when people tell me that Hillary Clinton is honest. I know, it’s a horrible thing to say but really? When in two consecutive speeches she called herself moderate and progressive, my only conclusion is that she temporarily forgot there was an internet. It’s the only possible explanation.

    And sorry for throwing politics into this. I’m mildly obsessed at this point. The only thing more important than politics right now is the Red Sox, but I guess that’s too American too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 14, 2016 at 3:24 pm

      I think we can all make exceptions for politics and religion – the two subjects most likely to cause an argument at a Ghandi mindfulness retreat. Whether I agree or disagree with people on those subjects, I can always understand their passion for their beliefs. But fighting over a lifestyle blog – that’s just bonkers.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. April 14, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Reblogged this on bhalsop and commented:
    This is a wonderful take on trolls, and I commend it to you all. And it’s funny, which makes it worth reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. April 14, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Well, I’m British and I cannot see what’s wrong with tutting, rolling ones eyes and then moving on without further comment. I’m constantly enraged by lots of things (misplaced apostrophes are a particular bug bear), but starting (and then maintaining) an argument would require far too much time and energy. Which could be spent making a nice cup of tea…

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 14, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      You’re absolutely right, Katy. Time was everything could be settled in Ireland with a click of the tongue. Sadly those days are long gone. Sigh.


  15. April 14, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    There’s a very specific set of conditions that compels me to argue. First, either the original poster or a commenter has to post something that is objectively wrong, AND either could harm someone if they acted off that information or could encourage more discrimination against a group that’s already discriminated against – an urban legend that plays off a common stereotype, or a claim that vaccination causes disease is always a good start. Then, if I think that someone else who reads it is likely to believe it, and nobody else has corrected it yet, I’ll argue. I try to start off diplomatically, unless it’s my stepdad posting it, in which case he should know better and I feel justified in shouting.

    Even with that narrow set of requirements, the state of American politics gives me lots of opportunity to argue.

    Liked by 4 people

    • April 14, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      Politics is just licensed argument, is it not? Who doesn’t like an ideological catfight now and then? I like your reasoning behind your conditions, though. Makes sense to me anyway. (This could be a good or a bad thing, so I’ll leave that up to you, Bethany.)

      Liked by 2 people

      • April 14, 2016 at 4:38 pm

        Oh, like everyone else, I think it’s fun when it doesn’t directly impact me or people I know. Lately the fun has gone out of it since it seems aimed at my friends, but I guess it’s probably always been this contentious.

        Liked by 1 person

        • April 14, 2016 at 4:42 pm

          From where I’m standing, I’m not sure it’s ever been this contentious! I’m hugely glad I’m not involved…

          Liked by 1 person

  16. April 14, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Well, you know you’re preaching to the choir, Tara, on this particular topic! Trolls are the bane of my existence as both an online reader and writer, and I shake my fist at the day when comment threads were invented (though I quite enjoy jumping on them myself, but, hey, I’m not a creepy spittle-flying hate-mongering word-bully!).

    So to your question: what gets me off my duff to leave a comment? Well, on here, it’s your sharp wit and breezy candor, always ripe for a “huzzah” or a commiserating round of verbal applause. 🙂

    While I join in on Facebook threads often, I don’t bother to comment much on media articles because the sheer onslaught of troll-lash that follows is usually too vitriolic for my sensitive psyche; it’s not worth the stress chemicals. But occasionally I will comment on political pieces when the thesis is so muddled, or so propagandist, or so inaccurate that I am compelled (though always with great civility and properly spelled words) to express a counterpoint in hopes of inserting some balance into unbalanced idiocy. Kind of what Bethany said above!

    Or, if I agree with the thesis and think it’s particularly well-written, I may throw in a “good piece, young Millennial male who’s special and unique for not being dismissive of a female candidate who’s a Boomer!” or “thanks for articulating that with such great supporting information and no reference to female body parts,” and so on. I’m NEVER interested in leaping onto a pro-(name the candidate) pieces/Facebook threads to inject my contrary opinion for no reason other than to be contrary… something WAY too many people do, which pretty much always explodes into troll-wars.

    But as a writer, often of more controversial topics, I’m always ASTONISHED at how ugly, how hateful people can get over the strangest of things. One of the most onerous, prodigious bouts of hate-mail/comments I’ve ever gotten as a writer was over a piece in which I suggested indie writers NOT write four books a year at the expense of quality. THAT unleashed the hounds of hell.

    Go figure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 14, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      I’ve dipped my toe in those waters, Lorraine. It never ceases to amaze me how explosive it can be to express opinions in the indie publishing world. Serious chill pills required by a large number of authors I’m afraid. I was once told to go and die because I suggested that writers should stop moaning about money. Although the experience was ruined by the fact that I enjoyed replying to that comment so much I couldn’t moan about it. Tough times. Tough times.


  17. April 14, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Great discussion. I agree with pretty much everyone, which makes me anxious. Where’s the fun and hysteria in that?

    Liked by 4 people

    • April 14, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      Yeah, you’re in trouble there, Tenderlation. I’m most concerned that you agreed with anyone at all. Is there anything you can take for it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 15, 2016 at 9:49 am

        It’s OK, thanks. Had a few drops of mock offence earlier. Back to default gurning.

        Seriously, though, I can’t often tell when unbridled anger begins and passion blinded by bogus binary arguing begins. A minefield best tiptoed through with eyerolls, or talking to myself.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. April 14, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    I’m what you’d call (or, rather, I’d call since I made it up) an “online bartender”. I stay out of it. I have my triggers but vent on my poor family. They love me. So very much. Anyhoo, I think the online circus of just-about-anything has for sure turned into the Argument Clinic. Except less funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. armenpogharian
    April 14, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Perhaps it’s my natural laziness or maybe my smug feelings of superiority, but I have trouble thinking of a time I let the something on the internet get under my skin enough to get me to fly off the handle. There was that time on a Facebook chat group when I was defending prologues – yeah I’m one of those writers. Anyway, one fellow got so upset he rejoined the group under a new name, claiming to be a teenager who would’ve bought my books, but he couldn’t possibly spend money on something so unprofessional as to have a prologue. It got weirder and I was admittedly confused, but I guess it wasn’t the first time for this type of thing happened. A moderator recognized the tactic and kicked him out of the group. On the plus side it inspired me to write a blog defending prologues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 14, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      Life is literally too short for that sort of thing, Armen. There’s no accounting for some people. You should track him down and pose as his parent, immediately blocking his allowance and grounding him from internet use for a month. Then we’ll see who finds it weird and confusing, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Ali Isaac
    April 14, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    Personally, I think it’s all down to cowardice. People get mighty brave when they are anonymous behind a keyboard. In reality, most of them would be incapable of having a face to face debate. Their aggression hides their weak character and lack of actual knowledge. Their nastiness is born of jealousy, because they could never hope to achieve what the person they just trolled has.

    Anyone who writes, or puts themselves in the public eye, knows they are not going to please everyone all of the time. But why some people seem to feel the need to react with vitriol instead of intelligently express their disagreement is beyond me. What miserable lives they must lead.

    Liked by 3 people

    • April 14, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      Absolutely, Ali. Cowardice, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy. Just your average teenager really. Pity so many people regress online. Everyone knows it should be ignored, but when you throw a creatively minded target into the mix, it’s the Paranoia Samba.

      Actually, I would love to see a Paranoia Samba. I see it as a chorus line with a reluctant solo.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Ali Isaac
        April 14, 2016 at 8:01 pm

        Hahahaha! Or maybe a tango, with all those backward steps and looking over their shoulders! Lol!

        Liked by 1 person

  21. April 14, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    Tara, you live such a wild life, so,I thought you were going to say they opened the floor and found a dead body. Imagine my disappointment.

    No worries – the night’s not over. Well, it’s daytime over here on Vancouver Island… but there’s always tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 14, 2016 at 7:51 pm

      I know, Veronica. I clickbaited the bejesus out of that one. My bad. I was hoping to create some animosity, and then you went and slayed me with your optimistic kindness. Sigh. I just can’t win.


  22. annerallen
    April 14, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    Oh, this is my life! I’ve even had death threats for saying the most innocuous things like “Grannies should learn to write online reviews, because it gives a voice to older readers.” Seriously. I’m very careful not to allow anything about politics or religion on any of my social media pages. But just yesterday I shared a pleasant video to my FB page and got called all sorts of names by somebody who objected to the fact it came from the Huffington Post, which doesn’t pay writers.

    I don’t pay writers for writing on my blog either. We all write for free much of the time these days. It’s the new normal. Musicians have been dealing with the same problem for over a decade. But hey, it’s all my fault for hitting “share” on something from the HuffPo. So I guess it’s time for me to go kill myself now…

    Thanks for a great post!

    Liked by 4 people

    • April 14, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      You definitely can’t win, Anne. Perhaps you should just start saying every contentious and incendiary thing you can think of online – especially the stuff you don’t even believe – and sit back and wait for the adulation. Internet logic. Think of the headlines!

      Liked by 2 people

  23. April 14, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    I almost succumbed to writing on Facebook about Stephen “people won’t like you if you’re full of self-pity because your uncle put his hand in a nasty place when you were a child. Grow up” Fry. But then I thought maybe he’d skipped his medication so I didn’t bother.

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 14, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      He did the unreserved apology thing today, did you see that? Seems he’s on a downward trajectory in terms of social media these days. Just goes to show there’s nothing more fickle than internet fame.


  24. April 14, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    All the comments above make me sick. The fact that you wrote this article has me calling to God on the big white phone. And the last thing that really gets my nanny goat is people who begin sentences with a conjunction an mispell other words lter on.
    I am offended!

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 14, 2016 at 10:36 pm

      Congratulations, Conor. You win the internet today. Your prize is 10,000 fake followers on the platform of your choice and a packet of indigestion tablets. Please call this premium number to collect your prize: 53555-HATE-EVERYTHING.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. April 14, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Hmm, some of the bloggers I visit or follow, who might post beautiful flower pictures, or sensitive pieces about family members, will also re-blog articles which link directly to vitriolic views (my God, I’m being so careful as I write this, that I might as well be wearing camouflage). I don’t understand this, and I’m too much of a coward to express more than sadness at these views, for fear of the flak that might come my way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 14, 2016 at 10:42 pm

      Sometimes the internet can feel like a dinner party you didn’t really want to go to. You meet lovely people who can say unlovely things. I wish people behaved like they were at a dinner party, though. That way we could all remain polite to the person who just said the stupid thing, excuse ourselves, and swear silently at them in the toilet.


  26. April 14, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    Haha! I loved the test. I don’t think I’ve been pushed yet to write a negative comment, probably because I’m quite selective in my reading and I don’t even use my facebook account. I read the text at Guardian too and I find it sad, sad that the outcomes of the analysis were exactly as one could predict, meaning that things haven’t changed so much. On a positive note I really appreciated their initiative to recognize comments as data to be analyzed and I liked the visualizations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 14, 2016 at 10:49 pm

      They had cracking graphs, didn’t they? Somehow the data doesn’t seem so depressing when it’s in a well-drawn graph (says a card-carrying nerd). Facebook is a minefield. I’m not on Instagram or Snapchat, but almost all the really shirty stuff I see is on Facebook.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. April 15, 2016 at 2:27 am

    Thankfully I rarely get negative comments on my blog because I pretty intentionally write about things no one would ever care about. Come to think of it that might also be why I don’t get a great deal of traffic. It has happened a time or two and I have responded with extremely polite open mockery with sarcastic undertones. Whenever I read something someone else has written and find my hackles rising with indignation, I make myself read some of the comments. It usually takes no more than two before I decide the conversation has already descended into the great abyss of stupid and mean, and then I realize I’d much rather not add to the mean and stupid, even though I’m obviously totally right and could easily formulate the perfect insult that would effectively end all Internet arguments for all time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 15, 2016 at 9:10 pm

      Everything you just said is excellent and pretty much how I want to live my life from now on, but I’m far too tempted by the polite open mockery with sarcastic undertones. I want some of that. Please don’t ration it, it wouldn’t be fair. Or the perfect insults. It would be like cancelling the Sparling Christmas, Sarah.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. April 15, 2016 at 8:05 am

    What was the question again? After reading all the comments I’m a little lost… Oh, yes: triggers for commenting. Well, this is a dinner party and it would be rude for me not to speak a word, right? 🙂
    I prefer to ignore trolls, or at least pretend I didn’t get the gist of their comment. Staying clear of anything religious or political at least keeps me away from all the serious bar fights that happen in the comment section. Tsking, rolling my eyes and moving on to the next conversation really works when confronted with trolls – paying them just encourages them to find more bridges to claim.
    Oops, was that argumentative by being in the written word?
    Great post, as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 15, 2016 at 9:15 pm

      Yes, Milady, very argumentative. To be commenting on a comment request in writing. I’m considering withholding pudding. But seeing as you promised not to talk politics or religion – would you like ice cream or cream on your tsk?

      Liked by 1 person

  29. April 15, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    What triggers me off? I’ll tell you what triggers me off, Sparling. I’ve just spent a good half hour scrolling through all these comments to find the reply box. People who are popular, that’s what triggers me off.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. April 15, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    Yep, I’m with The Opening Sentence, or a little below, and I’ve forgotten what I was going to type now. Having the memory of a gnat keeps me from getting into arguments. I do have a fascination with trolled threads… I like to keep my head down and snigger from the sideline.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 16, 2016 at 10:39 am

      I’m toying with finding a way to move your comment up in the chain, Scarlet, just to make everyone even more annoyed and confused – I’m a bit upset that nobody’s tried to insult anyone on this thread yet. I had such high hopes. Leave it with me and I’ll hopefully drum up something to snigger at.


  31. April 16, 2016 at 5:14 am

    If I’m offended by a post, I move on. And if I’m really really offended (by hate speech, for example) I unfollow. I’ve offended others 3 times (that I know of). One time was on FB which seems to be particularly susceptible to vitriol. A male reader of my post called me a liberal tree-hugging a**hole. Ha ha – a title I’m rather proud of. The other two times were on WP. Once when I suggested that poverty was solvable if the world chose to solve it. That didn’t go over well with one woman. The other time was with a woman also, and I think it was a misunderstanding about something innocuous that I don’t even remember. I clarified but the connection died after that. That my story. I hope I didn’t offend you!


    • April 16, 2016 at 10:44 am

      No offence taken, Diana. Even though you mentioned something innocuous. That always rings my bell. The liberal/conservative divide has really become the war of choice, hasn’t it? I suppose it’s political in nature, so it’s not surprising. It’s the ridiculous fights that entertain me the most. If anyone had told me 10 years ago that an author would get into an all-out hate campaign with a civilian reviewer or vice versa, I never would have believed them.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. April 21, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    Gosh you get a lot of comments. I’ve been scrolling for days.
    Over here, the skewed opining on this century-long election process is what’s messing with me head. I don’t know anyone! I feel like I’m in 1984. Socialist = Communist. Did you ever? Anyway, talking politics on your fun page is like trolling so I’ll stop.
    Your post reminds me of something I’ve thought about occasionally: what would it be like to interview an internet troll? What would I learn about their life, motivations, character when they step away from the keyboard? Do I know people who secretly go home from their respectable office job and become trolls on comment pages after dark in their pyjamas..?
    I feel like I’m in 1984 even more now…

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 22, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      I wonder if many trolls have been written into books, Jackie. I think JK Rowling did, sort of, in The Casual Vacancy, with two teenage boy characters who had an agenda against a parent, but I’d be fascinated to read your interview with the sort who just seem to select random targets and fire at will. It might be depressingly mundane too, though!


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