Never read the comments section. It’s the place where trolls from polar opposite ends of the culture war spectrums go to duke it out behind the safety of their screens. Does yelling an insult at someone in all caps help? In fact, has anyone’s mind been changed through the back-and-forth flinging of vitriol on Facebook or Twitter? I doubt it. Today I’m here to teach you how to get a little more creative when it comes to throwing shade on the internet.
You’ve probably heard the term euphemism. It’s hard to spell and sounds vaguely like a branch of Eastern philosophy. In fact, a euphemism is a figure of speech used instead of a more direct, possibly offensive word choice. For instance, “Bless Frodo’s heart, he’s doing the best he can” is a nice way of saying, “Frodo’s stupid.” To suggest that someone is “economical with the truth” would imply that she is a liar. These carefully selected phrases suggest the same meaning as their blunt insult counterparts, but you can imagine someone uttering euphemisms with a smile on his face. Congratulations, you’ve just leveled up your shame game!
You can also employ a good euphemism to make tough news easier to digest. Whether or not it would be appropriate to do so, you could call your sister to inform her that “Aunt Helen kicked the bucket.” Of course, this would be a euphemistic way to tell your sister that Aunt Helen died. You would do better to say she “passed away,” which is a different euphemism for “died.” When it comes to death euphemisms, I suggest using the nice ones to help with the grieving process.
We use euphemisms all the time. My wife is “vertically challenged,” which is to say she’s short. Talking about someone being “between jobs” is a polite way of saying that he is unemployed. Instead of calling someone crazy, you might hear them described as having “a couple of screws loose.” I think you’re catching on now.
So, if you want to call someone a moron online (which I don’t suggest), perhaps consider dropping in a few euphemisms. Don’t say, “You’re dumb”; say, “It seems as though you’ve got a leak in your think-tank.” Instead of typing, “You’re an idiot,” write, “You’d be out of your depth in a mud puddle.” You’ll appear smart and kind of mean.
Honestly, I find it healthy to take a social media detox every few months. It allows me to rinse off the proverbial mud that people constantly sling at each other. However, if you feel like you must let someone know you think he’s a nincompoop in an online discussion, at least do it with a little bit of flair and use a clever euphemism.