Screenshot: Twitter

He didn’t know it at the time, but T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land is actually about Twitter in 2017. To scroll through your timeline is to bathe in a morass of invective while watching notable writers screenshot the writing of other notable writers with smug subtweets that eventually receive their own litany of smug subtweets. Fists are raised. Careers are ended. The guilty are shamed. The innocent are, too.

Like it or not, this is now our world:

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Online anger is a virus that’s constantly mutating, and the best means of immunizing yourself is to understand how it manifests. After chronicling “the nine canonical examples of being mad online” in 2015, writers Felix Biederman and Virgil Texas are back to explore “New Trends In Getting Mad Online” for The Outline.

Using copious examples from the likes of hothead actor Michael Rapaport, comedian Jen Kirkman, douchebag Mark Dice, and reporter Eli Lake, the authors dig deep into the latest and most creative ways our rage manifests online, whether that be in Rapaport’s creation of a fake ally or Lake’s doofy attempt to “roll with the punches.” What’s truly horrifying, however, is the duo’s analysis of how the Twitter anger of our current president is currently affecting our national government.

As near as anyone can tell, all Donald Trump does is get mad on Twitter while shitty daytime television blares in the background. The White House Communications Office has been refitted as a megaphone to reiterate the president’s inane outer-borough put-downs. Since antiquity, hubris and anger have caused the downfall of innumerable great persons and empires. In these times we have the pleasure of living through the first dissolution of society brought on by someone who couldn’t stop getting mad at stupid shit online every single day.

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Consider it a cautionary tale of bad behavior, or, hey, maybe you can comb it for tips to help with your own social media wars. If you’re of the latter persuasion, this piece by noted technology advisor Shelly Palmer may be of interest. In it, he studiously, if rather cheekily, explains how “antifragility”—a means of embracing and perpetuating disorder—is the key to winning arguments and gaining followers.

His process:

  1. Pick an issue guaranteed to enrage your opposition.
  2. Figure out how to make the issue truly binary, no matter how nuanced or subtle it is. Yes or no. You’re with us or against us.
  3. Craft a barrage of strategically related antifragile messages (marketers, pay attention here).
  4. Keep the chaos going. (Brand safety? We don’t need no stinkin’ brand safety!) More tweets, more related enraging issues. More, more, more. Keep repeating steps 1–4.
  5. Enjoy the increase in followers, virality, and the size of the community of like-minded people that has self-assembled around you.

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It really is that simple, isn’t it? Sad!