If You’re Saying Any Of These Things Online, You’re A Secret Troll

The internet is a breeding ground for both connection and snarky comments. We’ve all come across people who get off on enraging and upsetting people anonymously online, but are you guilty of antagonizing people from behind your computer or phone screen? If you’re saying any of these things online, the answer may be a resounding “yes.”

1. “Let me play devil’s advocate for a minute…”

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If you feel compelled to take the opposing view on every little thing, you’re not trying to have a healthy debate — you’re being contrarian for the sake of it. A true devil’s advocate carefully chooses when to present an alternate perspective to stimulate thoughtful discussion, Everyday Health explains. Constantly arguing the counterpoint is disruptive and derails conversations. Before chiming in with “well, actually,” ask yourself if you’re contributing something meaningful or just stirring the pot.

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2. “It’s not that deep.”

Dismissing someone’s views like this is seriously condescending. People share opinions online because they care about the topic. Rudely implying their thoughts are overblown or unimportant is a classic troll move to get a rise out of them. If you really think someone is getting worked up over nothing, either scroll on by or respectfully explain why it’s a non-issue. Belittling their concerns is a fast track to Trollsville.

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3. “Do your own research.”

woman studying at home.

This one is often followed by links to dubious, conspiracy-laden sites. It sounds empowering, but is really a dodge to avoid backing up their own arguments. They throw out vague claims, then place the burden of proof on YOU to disprove their misinformation, all while feeling smug about not falling for “mainstream lies.”

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4. “Cry more.”

woman using laptop on outdoor steps

Mocking someone for having an emotional reaction doesn’t make you edgy or tough, it makes you a jerk. Human beings have feelings — shocking, I know. If your go-to response is teasing people for getting upset, that says more about your stunted emotional maturity than their “oversensitivity.” Learn some empathy. And if you can’t say anything nice, close the app and take a walk outside. Touch grass, my dude.

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5. “Guess I’m not allowed to have an opinion!”

woman working at laptop

No one’s saying you can’t have an opinion, but free speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences. If you post inflammatory hot takes, don’t act shocked when you get pushback. People disagreeing with you isn’t “silencing” you, it’s participating in the marketplace of ideas. You have the right to your opinion, but not the right to have it go unchallenged. Grow a thicker skin or get out of the comments section.

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6. “LOL, triggered much?”

nerdy guys

Accusing someone of being “triggered” because they had the audacity to get annoyed at your obvious provocation doesn’t make you some master class troll — it just exposes you as one. Purposely pushing people’s buttons and then smugly feigning innocence when they react is transparent and immature. If you have to hide behind dated internet slang to feel superior, log off and reevaluate your life choices. Triggered jokes are so 2016. Find a new schtick.

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7. “Okay, snowflake!”

Ah yes, the ultimate lazy insult. Calling someone a “snowflake” because they’re passionate or sensitive is such a cop-out. It’s an ad hominem attack that adds nothing to the conversation. Everyone’s unique, like snowflakes — that’s a good thing. If you think having emotions or giving a damn makes someone weak, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe spend less time trying to seem tough online and more time developing actual strength of character.

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8. “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”

I’m all for factual accuracy, but trotting out this tired line as a way of shutting someone down whenever they get heated is disingenuous. Conversations aren’t just cold, hard data — they involve real people with real experiences and emotions. Dismissing the human element doesn’t make you logical, it makes you a robot. And let’s be real, facts can be cherry-picked and feelings can reveal important truths. The world isn’t black and white, so stop hiding behind this cliché.

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9. “I was just joking, jeez.”

You’re not as funny as you think. If you constantly have to reassure people you’re kidding, maybe your “jokes” just aren’t landing. There’s a fine line between edgy humor and mean-spirited mockery. If you have to explain the punchline, you’ve already failed. Quit hiding behind the “I’m just joking” excuse and own up to your lame attempts at comedy.

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10. “You’re just virtue signaling.”

This is such a classic troll accusation. Because apparently, it’s impossible to actually care about issues — if you express an opinion, you must be “virtue signaling” for brownie points. What a weak cop-out. Believe it or not, some people genuinely give a damn about making the world a bit better. If you’re so cynical that you think it’s all for show, I feel sorry for you. Focus on your own moral compass instead of projecting your apathy onto everyone else.

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11. “Cope harder.”

It’s a dismissive non-response meant to get under someone’s skin. Implying that a person you disagree with is just “coping” with some unspoken loss is a cheap rhetorical trick. It shuts down actual dialogue in favor of lobbing vague personal attacks. If you can’t engage with the substance of someone’s argument without resorting to “cope” quips, you’ve already lost the debate. Cope with that.

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12. “Ratio’d!”

Ugh, spare me the Twitter-brain posturing. Just because a pithy comeback gets more likes than the original post doesn’t mean it “wins” the argument. Hivemind dogpiling isn’t the same as reasoned debate. Tracking “ratio” scores is a sad game for terminally online trolls with nothing better to do. If your self-worth depends on racking up retweets, you need to reevaluate your priorities. Touch grass and interact with humans in the real world, where nuanced discussions still happen.

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13. “Based? Based on what?”

This played-out meme response is the calling card of a troll trying way too hard to seem clever. Intentionally misinterpreting slang doesn’t make you a comedic genius, it makes you a tiresome pedant. The jig is up — everyone knows you understand internet lingo, you’re just being deliberately obtuse to derail the conversation. It’s not cute, it’s cringeworthy. Find a new gimmick, this one’s deader than the “arrow to the knee” bit.

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14. “All lives matter.”

At first glance, this is pretty innocuous. However, saying it in response to “Black Lives Matter” erases the systemic racism that necessitates the BLM movement, Vox explains. It’s not about denying those other lives are important, but rather deliberately missing the point to undermine efforts towards racial justice by making them about everyone instead.

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15. “If you don’t like it, just leave.”

Nationalism disguised as “tough love” that’s often said to immigrants, minorities, or anyone calling out flaws in America. It reveals a belief that only uncritical adoration of your country is patriotic. Critique is non-negotiable if we ever want to improve as a society, yet for trolls, any dissent makes you an enemy who deserves deportation, not a concerned citizen.

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16. “So much for the tolerant left!”

Having progressive values doesn’t mean we have to tolerate bad faith arguments and blatant trolling. Tolerance isn’t a free pass to spew nonsense without pushback. If you’re getting called out by the so-called “tolerant left,” maybe take a good hard look at your own behavior. Contrary to popular belief, being left-leaning doesn’t obligate us to put up with jerks. Die mad about it.

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Josh grew up in Connecticut and thought he could never be happier away from big bodies of water until he moved to Minneapolis and fell in love with it. He writes full-time, with his lifestyle content being published in the likes of Men's Health, Business Insider, and many more. When he's not writing, he likes running (but not enough to train for a marathon even though his buddy won't stop asking him).
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