I know what you’re thinking, because I’m thinking it too: there’s way too much “love” and “peace” on the Internet these days.
There are too many people refusing to feel threatened by their differences. Too many uniting as members of the human race, and working together for a common good.
Fortunately, you can do something about it. By studying numerous flame wars over more than 20 years, I’ve discovered the ultimate secret to pissing people off.
It’s really quite simple: just say something threatening. Make people feel bad about who they are, so they, in turn, can become defensive and angry at you for your attacks.
If that sounds easier said than done, you’re right! Not to worry, I’ve distilled all my learnings into five reliable (if somewhat strange) tricks you can use to incite hatred like a pro.
Study these tactics well, and apply them with reckless abandon. Through dedication and perseverance, you can help turn the tides and usher in the Internet’s next era of hatemongering!
1. Avoid Facts Like the Plague
Every master of incitement knows that facts make poor fodder for inflaming emotions.
Facts are objective statements about reality, like “Joe tried to sell us a used car with cracks in the engine.” No one disputes facts, which is why they’re called facts, so the power they have for making people angry is very low.
Facts are absolutely toxic to hatemongering: avoid them at all costs!
Nonetheless, by subtly modifying a fact, you can turn it into a partial truth, which can incite far more hatred than a complete falsehood. Indeed, the majority of all inflammatory language achieves its sting by masquerading as fact!
For example, we can modify the above fact, and pass it off as “factual”, by stating: “Used car salespeople are sleazy scumbags who sell defective automobiles”.
In the tricks that follow, I’ll give you some concrete ways you can take factual statements, and alter them in a way that inflames.
2. Generalize Statements from Individuals to Groups
One easy way to fictionalize information is to take a statement that’s true for someone, and say or imply that it’s true of everyone in some group to which the individual belongs.
For example, let’s take this statement of fact: “CEO so-and-so laid off 4000 employees to cut costs while pressuring the board of directors for a $50m annual bonus.”
That’s a fact, and pretty useless to us. No one can dispute it (not even the named CEO!), and it doesn’t really make anyone feel bad about themselves.
Let’s change the statement to talk about CEOs like they’re an individual: “CEOs layoff employees to save costs while massively inflating their bonuses.”
This statement is no longer a fact, even though it still contains some truth. Now it’s potentially threatening to any CEO who feels the above characterization impugns on their character.
The “some truth” part is important. For maximum effect, you should make sure there’s at least one individual in the group for which the statement is true. This lets you claim your statement is “generally true” and just has some exceptions that “prove the rule”.
More examples to start some flame wars:
- The tech industry doesn’t give a shit about diversity;
- Democrats are socalists;
- Atheists are mean-spirited, elitist blowhards.
See the power of this technique?
The other name for this technique, of course, is stereotyping. Technically, it’s a fallacious way of reasoning called False Analogy that’s indispensable to hatemongerers everywhere.
3. Objectify Your Feelings
A statement like, “When you called me a pig, it hurt my feelings,” is a subjective statement about the contents of your mind.
No rational person would question your description of your own mind, since no one has any more insight into what you’re feeling than you do. Very few would even become upsetwith you for describing the way things make you feel. It’s just not very threatening.
To really piss people off, you can take subjective statements about your mind, and make them sound like objective facts about the world outside your mind.
For example, instead of saying “You hurt my feelings,”, describe the other person: “You’re mean.” The statement, “You’re mean” implies a whole host of things about the other person’s mental state and past behaviors, and will threaten them unless they revel in the idea of being “mean”.
Or go one step further, and take a subjective fact like, “I like donating to the Humane Society,” which is totally non-threatening, and turn it into a law of physics that’s true about the objective world: “All people should donate to the Humane Society.”
4. Use Loaded Language
Words aren’t neutral. They usually have positive or negative connotations. You can take advantage of this by using words that have negative connotations (however slight!).
For example, instead of stating the fact, “Humans change the environment,” replace the neutral word change with the negative word damage.
The word damage implies a “bad” kind of change, which begs the question, Bad to whom? If we explicitly stated whom, the statement would become factual again: “So-and-so doesn’t like the way humans are changing the environment.”
This factual statement has no inflammatory power, so instead, we leave it vague by using the word damage, without specifying the agent or agents to whom the change is considered “bad”.
Incidentally, all forms of name-calling are examples of this trick, because they rely on the power of negative connotations to imply someone or something is “bad”.
5. Eliminate Shades of Gray
As a kid watching Star Wars, I always wondered what the Empire ever did to warrant a galactic war. Excluding Darth Vader’s direct reports, life seemed to be pretty good for the average grunt on either side of the war.
Now I know humans are inherently tribalistic. We have a natural inclination to group everyone into “us” or “them” (our tribe or some other tribe). Light Side or Dark Side.
You can take advantage of this innate tribalism by casting all people as “good” or “bad”.
People are either utterly corrupt, selfish, diabolical, scheming, murderous sociopaths, or they’re on your side. There are no shades of gray, only black and white. Everyone who disagrees with you is one of “them”, on the Dark Side, and not worthy of the air they breath.
Take that philosophy with you to the Internet, and you’ll cultivate hatred better than Darth Vader himself.
Go Forth and Flame
With this bag of tricks under your belt, you’re ready to bring some good ol’ fashioned hatred into this world.
Go forth on Twitter, Internet forums, Facebook, wherever else you hang out online, and leverage what you’ve learned here to incite hatred and piss off everyone.
And remember, don’t forget to retweet, like, share, and link to others who are bravely committed to our cause. A simple retweet of an inflammatory remark takes almost no time, but the effects can be felt around the world.
Good luck, and see you in the Internet’s next era of hatemongering!