If you can’t beat them, figure out what makes them tick. Then beat them.

Cretin Hop

Oliver “Shiny” Blakemore
4 min readJul 20, 2018


Photo by Hugues de BUYER-MIMEURE on Unsplash

I think we all know this instinctively. Every now and then the good people get their way. Whatever system of douche-baggery that’s currently the main object of the ire of the “sane” people gets overturned. And we all know which is the good and sane system because it’s whichever one we agree with, which is being persecuted unfairly by the other system, which is obviously cretinous and evil. Every now and then, the system made up of our friends wins, and the other system gets silenced forever.

And all becomes well in the world.

Until our system becomes the bad guys. Until we become one of the awful people — one of the dreadful people, who operate in a full appreciation of their own righteousness.

And that’s where the fault lies. Because the moment that I conduct myself with absolute self-assurance of my own righteous position I have become one of the worst kind of people: a righteous man.

We all know we’re flawed. We all know we’re only half-formed apes who’ve been putting on airs, with enough glory to half fill a holey teaspoon on a good day. The moment we pretend to be anything more we become hypocrites right away, as far as I’m concerned.

So why mess around, I say? Why try and rid the world of the trolls and the tossers? They’re providing a valuable service. Because as long as there are people in the world more awful than I am then I can call myself a good man without causing myself to giggle.

Well, a good man.

Well, I’m all right.

Pause for the appreciative nods from the Browncoats.

Pause over.

In fact, I’ve got one better: why don’t we start being trolls right now? All of us so called “good” people.

Because here’s the thing: if we live in a universe where it’s easy for cretinous mugs to operate, then it says something about the particular environment that those cretins are showing their mugs in. I think we can all agree that we’ve had a run-in or two with some self-important crotch handle, quite certain of their own importance — or their own powers of sackery, anyway — and that they took advantage of a situation where they encountered people who, more or less, would have preferred to be decent. I think I speak for most of us when I say that at least half of us would like to be civil, and that a good chunk of the other half would at least like not to have every conversation devolve into no-holds-barred argument about poor genetics.

Since that’s the case, I think we’ve got a problem here.

The problem isn’t too much politeness. That’s not the problem. You might have thought I meant that the problem is too much politeness, and that I’ve been building up to making a suggestion that we all become jagoffs ourselves and defeat the Cult of the Troll by becoming trolls ourselves.

That’s not what I’m saying.

That’s not precisely what I’m saying.

Because the way I see it, the key to being one of these cretinous roustabouts, all intent on gaining a rise from people, is their ability to find, press, and then spam the buttons that trigger everyone else.

We’re talking people who, on various scales of efficacy, make it their hobby to identify exactly what annoys other people — exactly what’ll keep a conversation going and keep the engagement high — and keep the focus on whatever that is. Sometimes they do it with fiendishly precise strategy as well. These people are masters at surgically bypassing our logic centers and stabbing us right in the feels.

That…takes a lot of people skills.

Now, I know what you could say to that: They’re not geniuses — they’re just naturally skilled assholes. Which is probably true.

But there’s a lesson to learn here.

Which is if you really want to cut through the chatter and stab into the center of people, you need to listen closer to what they’re saying behind what they’re saying. Trolls do it — cretins do it. That’s why they irritate you: they’re undermining logic and hitting you in the squishy insides.

And because cultural norms dictate only particular behaviors that may sometimes mean behaving in an anarchistic and socially deviant way.

So you might look like you’re being a troll. Don’t let that bother you. Just do your dance and don’t bother the fish.

If you can’t beat them, then figure out what makes them tick, and then beat them. That’s my saying.