Eventually, someone on the internet is bound to be pissed at what you say. You may not expect it, but it will happen. It may be an innocuous statement, someone will still be offended by it. And they want you to know to know how outraged they are.
So what can be done about it? Not much. These people are a timebomb waiting to go off, and when it happens, much drama will unfold. While you cannot avoid offending someone, you might as well understand who’s most likely to be pissed and why.
Here’s a profile of the five most chronically pissed people on the internet.
The Religious Fanatic
If you do not follow the religious fanatic’s set of dogmatic rules, you are pissing him off. The only way to not piss off the feligious fanatic is to become him. That creates a new problem, though, since no religion agrees with the other. By being a religious fanatic, you will piss off another religious fanatic.
Regardless, anything can piss off a religious fanatic. Gay sex? That’s offensive! Appreciation for bacon? You just crossed the line, mister! Display a pirate statue with excess cleavage? Alert the Catholic priest!
While you cannot avoid offending the religious fanatic eventually, you can minimize his impact by not talking about religion at all. That may be ignoring the elephant in the room, but it gets them out of your hair.
Wikipedia Fact Checkers
Their biggest impact is felt on Wikipedia (where many flame wars arise), but don’t fool yourself. Wikipedia fact checkers are everywhere. They are waiting for you to get an obscure fact wrong so they can pounce — and tell you how pissed they are that you got it wrong.
The War of 1812: was it fought between the USA and Britain, or between the USA and Canada? Was it just fought in 1812 or was it also fought in 1813? You better get it right because someone’s great-great-great-great-great-grandfather died in that war!
What fuels a Wikipedia fact checker is his need to be right all the time. The only way to make him go away is to do your research before he makes his appearance. Facts may change so pissing off a Wikipedia fact checker may be unavoidable. But you can minimize his potential drama.
Every snowflake is special. At least, that’s what their mom told them. A special snowflake is someone who believes he is utterly unique, and you must be sensitive to his delicate sensibilies. He is fragile, you know.
Special snowflakes come in many varieties. They are psychic vampires. They are furries. Two years ago, they self-diagnosed themselves with Aspergers Syndrome. There are manifold reasons why they may be special, but gosh darn it, you better know it!
A special snowflake cannot handle reality. Don’t tell him that — gasp! — he’s like everyone else. He’s totally not, you know! Want to avoid drama from a special snowflake? Let him live in his fantasy world, and don’t comment.
You said Star Wars was old and overrated. Bad move. To some people, Star Wars is their life and when you insult Star Wars, you insult them. Never mind that George Lucas was importing the spaghetti western into space. The Force is a profound philosophical statement and you better know it.
The above scenario is quite mild, actually. Fandom wankers have bigger issues to get bothered by: what is proper canon? Is slash fiction pure or impure? Is it really okay for Hollywood to take liberties with source material? Such topics create holy wars.
If you don’t want to be in the crosshairs of a holy war, do not have a critical opinion on any art. Especially if it’s art that people like. Better yet, don’t have an opinion on anything.
First Year University Student
A first year university student knows about oppression. After all, her professor did a symposium on Korean peasantry during World War II Japanese occupation. Therefore, she’s an expert and she identifies with oppression personally.
She looks at the topic of oppression through Marxist, feminist, Randian, and existential lenses — at the same time. A comment will be left on your website examining the topic from a Jungian perspective. At first, it will seem detached but as time goes on, her outrage will be made manifest. All the world has suffered therefore so has she!
The only thing that will cure the first year university student is time. Eventually, she will see that she is not an expert on anything, that she is still a student, and that she’s a child of privilege. Of course, some eventually make a career out of being chronically pissed off, so not all will be cured. When it happens, just smile and nod.
You will offend someone. It’s not if, it’s when. While you cannot avoid it, you can definitely minimize it. Don’t want the chronically pissed to make an appearance? Take away their excuse for being pissed.
The other side of the coin is that if you’re not offending someone you’re probably boring everyone else. Don’t worry about it too much. Simply don’t escalate the drama that will already happen.