New trends in getting mad online

Fake sons, safe spaces, and making yourself sick.

New trends in getting mad online

Fake sons, safe spaces, and making yourself sick.

The act of melting down on the internet informs the world we live in. It has gone from a niche pastime of crackpots to the central animating force of our politics. It has moved some to run for office. It has created jobs. It has expanded our culture. For the next four years, we will have a president who is insanely pissed online most of the time.

As scholars of online rage, we have closely monitored these developments with awe. In 2015, we chronicled the nine canonical examples of being mad online. It has become clear to us that those examples of being mad are insufficient to describe the new genuses that have evolved in the wild.

To guide you through this brave new red and nude world, we present the latest trends in getting mad online.

My Fake Son Could Beat You Up

Let’s say you are extremely mad online. You know it’s right to log off and distance yourself from whatever controversy you’ve gotten yourself into, but you can’t resist the urge to post about it. What do you do? You enlist your “family.”

Last month, actor Michael Rapaport — best known as the voice of Joey the Raccoon in Dr. Doolittle 2 — got involved in a Twitter spat with some noxious trolls making fun of national security reporter Eli Lake’s freestyle raps (sample lyrics: “Luv da police / Hug da police / We need ’em cause we bleedin’ from these bangers in the street / That's my attitude/ Show cops gratitude”). Exactly why this Hollywood character actor is so defensive of a Beltway neocon is beyond our comprehension, but Rapaport spent a couple days after Christmas delivering ice cold burns on a motley mix of journalists and internet goofballs:

Rapaport seemed to hold his own against the trolls, inveighing against the “hipster haters” on his podcast and monitoring their Tweets while at the wheel of his car. Nevertheless he felt the need to enlist the support of a relatively new Twitter account named “Dean Rapaport” with the handle “@mikerapaportson” (bio: “Son of @MichaelRapaport… Fuck with him. Fuck with me.”).

Here’s Dean owning a Vice reporter:

Here’s Dean going rogue:

By most appearances, Rapaport pere is an active father, what with videos of him rapping with Dean in the car, yelling at Dean at a gas station, and dozens of tweets from him asking Dean to settle down online:

All of this, of course, makes the fact that Dean Rapaport does not exist even stranger. “Dean Rapaport” is in fact Rapaport’s assistant, Dean Collins. Here’s that rap video again on Collins’ personal Instagram. Collins was a minor actor in the ’00s with credits in MADtv and The War at Home; his most recent credit however is “assistant to Michael Rapaport.” In 2015 Collins played Dean Rapaport in a video for Complex. Rapaport’s actual son, Maceo, confirms as much on his page, explaining “the video is a joke and I wouldn’t do it if I was asked.”

Just to reiterate, with his actual, biological son seemingly unwilling to take part in his lame dad’s flame wars, Michael Rapaport enlisted his assistant to pose as his son in order to own the trolls online, going so far as to roleplay parenting his fake son on Twitter. And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon…

I Have People To Deal With Being Mad

A few days after the rancorous Democratic National Convention last July, during which Bernie Sanders diehards demonstrated against Hillary Clinton’s nomination, stand-up comedian and actress Jen Kirkman tweeted: “I LIKE that Hillary has murdered a lot of people.” Kirkman later claimed this was a riff on the right-wing conspiracy theory that the Clintons have had dozens of people murdered (most notably, Bill Clinton’s Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster). But a few progressives took this as a sardonic endorsement of Hillary’s hawkish posture during her tenure as secretary of state, during which she pushed for bombing Libya, and went after Kirkman on Twitter.

Kirkman didn’t do much to stem the outrage by continuing her mocking tweeting streak. “Afghans who have died can’t see the joke so to justify it would be weird. I’m not gonna talk to a corpse,” she tweeted in response to the outcry, followed by “Yes. I said I am glad HRC killed so many people of color.”

Whatever. We’re not the joke police here. A comedian getting heckled for an off-color tweet and a woman getting harassed on the internet are not novelties. What is novel is getting so mad you delegate your Twitter account to an assistant who posts a studio portrait of you with text overlaid:

Rest assured, Kirkmaniacs, that no one in showbiz is mad at her.

Not So Tolerant When You’re Not in Your Safe Space, Mr. Liberal

We don’t know how many people have requested safe spaces in real life. For all we actually know, it could be fewer than 50, ever. That hasn’t stopped the concept from mystifying commentators, like New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait to Town Hall columnist Kurt Schlichter.

For however small this faction of microbloggers may be in reality, they’re quite well represented when some brave truth-teller gets heated. Typically, someone (usually a conservative, but sometimes a “cool” liberal like Chait or Bill Maher) says something really stupid, gets called stupid, and then declares that the offending party is “triggered” and “needs a safe space.”

Perhaps no one is more well-versed in accusing his critics of demanding safe spaces than Mark Dice. Dice, a self-proclaimed media analyst and YouTube personality who has written extensively about the illuminati, is no stranger to using as many resources as possible to get steamed.

Dice is frequently mocked on Twitter for, among other things, his fixation with spirit cooking (a stupid performance art thing that conservatives think is a satanic child abuse thing) and his obsession with saying that goddamn word. His favorite way of firing back is implying that people who are fed up with his shit are simply wusses who need a safe space.

The triggered/safe space/aren’t-you-a-special-snowflake line of attack is extremely effective because it instantly shifts the power dynamic of tweets. One second ago, you were yelling at ice cream for insulting cops and people were calling you stupid. But by interpreting your critics’ barbs as frenzied cries for help, you’re now the adult, and they’re your kids. Bonus points if you immediately block all those triggered safe space-needers who are making fun of you, lock your account, and whine to your Pepe avatar friends about “classic liberal tolerance [/sarcasm].”

Let’s Settle This on the Court

It used to be that the most alpha move one could make was to challenge those who angered them online to a physical fight. But that was before we found out about “toxic masculinity,” which is the cancer-causing chemical buildup in the colon caused by aggression and misogyny.

Since men got woke to this in 2016, getting into a fistfight because of Twitter has become as antiquated as abandoning your children because you couldn’t farm enough food. Today’s enlightened man deals with his rage through basketball.

For renowned political operatives like Peter Daou, basketball is a measure of a man’s veracity and mettle. We’re not sure what event or decision Peter is referring to here, but he is laying out his worldview that it takes a certain kind of man to play basketball and handle “disses” on the court.

When Hillary Clinton fainted during the 9/11 anniversary ceremony last year, Peter had fire in his eyes but the ball in his heart. He wasn’t going to let the trolls who have never played one goddamned game of New York summer hoops tell him that it’s alarming for someone to collapse on a 75-degree day.

Running for Senate

In one of the lowest moments of Hillary’s campaign, a young Somali-American woman challenged the candidate on her infamous “superpredator” remarks at a campaign stop in Minnesota. Clinton responded by calling her critic “dear” and dismissively suggesting, “Well, why don’t you go run for something then?”

At least one Clinton booster took those words to heart.

Al Giordano is an independent journalist and lefty activist who spent much of the last two decades reporting on the drug war in Central America for his newsletter, Narco News. In the past year, however, Al has become one of the maddest people online, launching multiple threat-laced tweetstorms about the amorphous group of Bernie Sanders-supporting antagonizers called the “Bernie Bros.” So mad, in fact, that the Mexico City resident stated his intention to challenge Sanders in the Vermont Democratic Senate primary.

Ordinary folks getting so fed up with the fat cats in Washington that they run for Congress is nothing new — Victor Morales, a schoolteacher who beat two sitting Democratic congressmen to become the first Latino Senate nominee in Texas, ran on a dare from his students. But throwing your hat in the ring because you’re mad at the online “Bernie stans,” as Al couldn’t help kvetching about in a profile of his campaign, is an innovation. Apparently under the impression that our podcast Chapo Trap House organized fake accounts to ironically encourage him to run for office, Al boldly proclaimed he would… run for office.

Sadly, due to health reasons Al said he’s no longer pursuing a race against the most popular politician in the country. But we’re confident one day another angry contender will rise and Mr. Spittle will finally make it to Washington.


Elevating an online feud by dragging in your nemesis’ employer on Twitter in a pathetic attempt to get them fired may be the most craven expression of being mad online. That’s probably because it’s so easy. Just tag the employer’s handle and say, “Buhh, does OfficeMax support this?” in the smuggest possible tone. Tom Watson, the co-founder of Hillary Men, recently did it to a Paste Magazine writer. The nebulous “alt-right” tried to get a Drexel University professor fired for making fun of their white genocide fantasies. Yet funnily enough, in a year where literal honest-to-God Nazis emerged from their shanties, most of the targets of this snitch offensive were left-wing journalists who had said a rude thing online.

Last May, Demos canned writer Matt Bruenig, noting that it “received emails from multiple individuals who made it clear that we were not aware of the extent to which Matt has been at the center of controversies surrounding online harassment of people with whom he disagrees.” Bruenig’s offense? Calling Neera Tanden, the president of the think tank Center for American Progress, a “scumbag.” This, along with multiple emails from feminist writer Sady Doyle, was enough to convince Demos to let go its “prolific blogger … on issues of poverty and inequality.”

Upon hearing the news that the expectant father would be unemployed thanks in part to her actions, Doyle responded thus:

This wasn’t Doyle’s first foray into snitching. In 2010, in response to reporter Moe Tkacik publishing the names of the women accusing Julian Assange of rape, Doyle went on a Twitter tirade (sample Tweet: “.@MoeTkacik I mean, I don’t want to bring certain ppl into this. But I PUKED IN FRONT OF yr friends & co-workers. Christ.”) then emailed Tkacik’s employer, Washington City Paper. Tkacik was fired a few days later.

Rolling With the Punches

“Rolling with the punches” is a method of stemming madness online. It is a distinct genus from “pretending to be laughing at your trolls,” marked by both its sincerity and its delayed reaction. If you are rolling with the punches, you were mad at one point, but now you’ve realized that if you can’t beat ’em, might as well join ’em.

Eli Lake, the aforementioned police-hugging rapper, once got so flustered by the trolls calling him out for such little things like “shilling for the Iraq War” and “dehumanizing Palestinians” that he wrote a column explaining how Not Mad he is at being constantly likened to an egg. But, a few years later, Lake would like you to know that he can take a joke:

I’m Too Sick To Be Owned

When citizens are drafted into the armed forces, the infirm are exempted. Unfortunately, online offers no such deferments. It doesn’t matter if you have Habsburg Diarrhea, Hellenic Inner Ear Syndrome, or even Father’s Ankle, the trolls will subject you to the worst they’ve got.

Some say it’s an act of cowardice to claim you’re too sick to be owned, but we find it to be a courageous act of internet rage. After all, the strongest someone can be is when they’re at their most vulnerable, and try and tell me these guys aren’t incredibly vulnerable.

There was journalist Kurt Eichenwald’s infamous seizure (which he followed up by spending an entire day tweeting scans of his lawsuit against a handle called @jew_goldstein). And then there was Jeff Jarvis, a professor and computer guy. After a parody account based on his thinkfluencing antics wrote an article in Esquire, Jarvis took a break from tweeting about Jill Stein to announce his heart was fucking up.

Telling the trolls they could kill you by tweet is flaming out in the most spectacular way possible. However, we don’t want to claim this is always exaggerated.

Andrew Breitbart, of course, succumbed to getting mad online. The notorious conservative provocateur died when his heart exploded while screaming at the trolls on Twitter, moments after calling one of them a “putz.” For everything, there is an exception. So as you go out into the new year, which will surely be filled with all sorts of rancor and racism and fake news and trolling, we leave you with a warning: Being mad online can kill.

Being A Shitty Fascist Asshole President

Malignant narcissist Donald Trump may be the angriest person who has ever been online. For years, his Twitter feed has been filled with invective at everyone and everything he has perceived as slighting him, from journalists to comedians to abstract concepts.

Just in the past month, the president of the United States got mad at the dumb sketch comedy show that nobody watches:

He also got mad at the reality TV host who replaced him:

Trump tweets with the brio of a cantankerous old man who was just kicked off a flight for saying too many racial slurs and wants a refund from @Delta. Those same people elected him president, some of whom hoped Trump would straighten up his act and lay off tweeting. Yet the first two weeks of Trump’s administration — at least, the few parts that haven’t been outsourced to white nationalist monster Steve Bannon — have been nothing short of one long and insipid meltdown over petty grievances.

Here’s Trump crowing about the ratings of his inauguration, after his press secretary spent his inaugural press conference complaining to the media about the same:

Here’s Trump, stung by the fact he won less than 46 percent of the popular vote, promoting some crackpot:

And here’s Trump’s press secretary holding up a fucking tweet that he printed out because his boss was mad at it:

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.

Felix Biederman and Virgil Texas are the cohosts of Chapo Trap House.