Last week the Washington Post published a story reporting that every 10 seconds a woman is called a whore or slut on Twitter. This isn’t exactly news; Twitter is famous for trolls, abuse, and overall shitiness. Had the researchers included the words ‘bitch,’ ‘thot,’ or ‘hoe;’ taken a look at the body shaming that happens to fat women; considered the spectacle of non-consensual nude photo leaks; gathered up all of the rape threats; or peeked their heads in on the whole side chick debate, then the headline probably would have read something like this: Twitter is not safe for women, ever. But there are some of us who refuse to sit docile while e-assholes hurl insults and threats at us across the web.
They say the pen is mightier than the sword, and in our case, the Twitter finger can be mightier than the trigger finger, when done right. I’ve experienced my fair share of online harassment, but I like to consider myself a graduate of the Amber Rose School of Clapback, and I’ve used these skills to orchestrate plenty of appropriate shutdowns. Today I’d like to share these skills with you in this, the Guide to Internet Clapbacks!
Evaluate the severity of the situation
As with everything else in life, there’s levels to this internet trolling shit. Provocations can range from a snub from a pretentious grammar snob (a.k.a. me), to someone threatening you or exposing private information to the public. It all strikes a nerve and prompts us to respond, but the punishment should fit the crime. Perfect example: A guy — we’ll call him Twitter Douchebag — decided to use one of my photos to make fun of and demoralize fat women on Twitter. I found out where he worked and definitely made fun of him for it, but discouraged onlookers from tagging his employer. I didn’t think that he should lose his job for making fun of my weight.
Here are some other things to consider: Is your foe someone you know personally? Or a follower of a follower who disagrees with your position on abortion? You may not want to go too hard on someone you have to see at work the next day, or their spouse.
How does their statement or action impact you? Did it hurt your feelings or can it potentially affect your business and personal relationships? Did it threaten your credibility? If so, there is more at stake in crafting a great response.
Are they relying on facts or personal opinion to support their position? If you have to defend yourself for something you’re not proud of, a heartfelt apology not only brings you closer to redemption but can promptly end a conversation because you’ve done all you can do.
Honestly assess what damage was done and figure out a way to move forward with your dignity intact.
Gather some intel
This is the age of information and you can use that to your benefit when someone comes for you but you didn’t send for them. You’ll need ammunition and it is probably readily available. Read through their profile or tweets to get some background on who you’re dealing with. Finding that tweet from three years ago that contradicts their current bullshit is gold! Find out where they work, go to school, what team they play for, and where they’ll be on Saturday night. This is all information that can be used to your advantage in digital sparring. You called me a basic bitch for watching Girls, but according to Facebook you’ll be a Brony convention this weekend? *drops mic*
Consider your platform
If you’re clapping back on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll need to be concise, creative, and quick. Always have an arsenal of reaction gifs and images on deck. You can’t go wrong with NeNe Leakes, any of the contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race, or Rihanna. Consider using a series of screenshots or recording a video if you need to come with some hard facts. Always, ALWAYS have receipts.
On Facebook, prepare a two-page single-spaced document to post at the ready. Brace yourself for an onslaught of notifications in the form of likes and other people replying to add their two cents. Facebook beefs require a four-hour minimum commitment.
Figure out how you want this to end
Come to terms with the resolution you want. If you want to dispute the claims made against you, do it in a way that addresses everything in one post. Remember you want to be able to drop your mic first!
If you just want the person to leave you alone, sometimes the block feature is your strongest weapon. The same applies for anonymous trolls.
You don’t want to overreact in these situations, but you also don’t want to miss a perfect opportunity to operate on your highest levels of petty. Just like Kim Kardashian does after childbirth: it’s OK to take some time to think and set a realistic, but epic, comeback goal for yourself. As you plot your witty retort, keep this goal in mind and stay on message.
Weigh out the consequences
Will this conversation remain pretty isolated between the two of you or can you expect for your mentions to crumble into chaos for next few hours or days? What are the chances of you getting in trouble at work or school as a result of your actions? Don’t do or say anything that can incriminate you, damage your reputation, or leave you unemployed.
Clapback with character
I prefer to maintain a certain code of ethics, even when clapping back. I’ll never be homophobic, transphobic, fatphobic, racist, etc. when reading someone for filth. People often make the mistake of thinking that everything is fair game when beefing online (and in person, too). This is not true, and it’s very possible that the defensive party can make an ass of themselves by crossing that line. Sure, I’m overly invested in having the last word in situations like, but I like to have it with my character in tact. I strongly encourage you to do the same.
Use your opponents tactics against them
Twitter Douchebag included my picture in a list that he made about college girls. Each sexist, stereotypical trait he used to categorize college girls had a picture of a different celebrity, with the exception of the one about fat girls, which included a picture of me. I upped the ante by making my own list about college guys, and for each trait was the same picture of Twitter Douchebag.
A friend of mine helped create this awesome guide to cyber-security that is super thorough and helpful. If you are being threatened, blackmailed, or ousted online make sure that you take the steps to protect yourself, ask for help, and report the incident.