Positive Writer

Writing through doubt and fear, and you can, too!

Why Using Insults Is Stupid And You Should Disagree

Note: This post was inspired by a question from a reader about what to do about insulting comments posted on her blog. I’d love to hear your take in the comments.

For those who disagree with other points of view but are incapable of presenting their arguments free of insults, my suggestion is to improve your vernacular, because it’s completely and utterly lacking of any value.

That’s an insulting statement, isn’t it?


Of course the introductory statement to this post is insulting, and it’s also woefully ineffective because any statement that includes insults is not worth consideration.

Criticism is great, it can help us become better writers. But allow me to clarify, criticism that is constructive and intended to be helpful is what is beneficial.

Insults are never constructive and certainly not helpful.  (Tweet)

I appreciate when someone disagrees with me and provides quality feedback about something I’ve written, either in the comments or via email. But what I find unworthy are comments from those who lower themselves from would-be pundits to useless hecklers.

Hecklers do not deserve my attention (or yours). I delete their comments and emails without a second thought. I also block their email and in some cases, IP addresses so they cannot post comments in the future.

More and more bloggers and even major websites are taking this stand against belligerent comments in order to create safer communities.

The best way to deal with hecklers online is to take away their ability to post insults, or, if you’re a reader, consider ignoring them. Engaging with them only gives them more opportunities to behave senselessly.

It’s a Sign of Incompetence

If your goal is to present a counter suggestion, idea or even to debate, then lacing comments with insults nullifies any useful input you may have. You effectively ruin an opportunity to give thoughtful feedback.

Sorry to say it, but that’s just stupid.

Once someone includes an insult, subtly or blatantly, the focus shifts from the opinion to the insult and people naturally tune out any points you may have had.

Worse, insulters are not considered competent enough to provide any meaningful input, because using insults make them look foolish.

I sincerely believe some people become insulting because they’re unable to compose a convincing argument and so they end up embarrassing themselves by becoming belligerent.

It’s little wonder why such comments are usually posted online anonymously.

I’d also hazard a guess that nine out of ten times, people become insulting because of…

Frustration and Anger

We all have succumbed at times to frustration and anger when we passionately disagree with something, and that’s normal.

It’s best to allow anger and frustration to dissipate before saying anything.

I take a few extra moments to collect my thoughts, make notes, and when I’m ready, I do my best to provide my side in a respectful manner. That is, if I want my opinion to be considered.

Frankly, I like for my comments to be taken into consideration and not disregarded because I was thoughtlessly blowing off steam.

How to Write Quality Comments

I’ve found that people tend to listen more when they realize their opinion is appreciated and understood.

It’s a good idea to make it obvious you recognize the sincerity of the person you are addressing, clearly articulating you appreciate his or her side, and if there are points you agree with let those be known sooner rather than later.

Finding common ground is a great place to start any conversation and it gives the other person the impression you’re serious and considerate.

Once you’ve established yourself, gracefully explain the points you disagree with and why. If you remain thoughtful, civil and articulate, without presenting any belittling remarks or using a condescending tone, the odds are you will be heard.

If you disagree you should voice your opinion, but do it in a way that matters.

(Click to Tweet)

This doesn’t mean you are sugarcoating your feedback. It means you are mindful and you want your argument to be considered.

If you were courteous and your side was not taken into consideration, that’s okay, at least you presented an argument in a way that was worth listening to.

Besides, you never know, the other person might come to realize you provided valuable information and may even adjust his or her opinion down the line. Either way, using insults won’t help.

Think about it, if you’re not confident enough in what you have to say without verbally assaulting someone, then why would anyone become convinced based on your rant, especially since, quite obviously, you’re not convinced.

Using insults ruins one’s ability to present a good argument worthy of consideration.

(Click to Tweet)

Take A Stand

Let’s take a stand, fellow bloggers and website owners, and provide safe communities where people can engage, agree and even disagree free of belligerence.

The truth is, if all some people want to do is be insulting, we are better off without them. They deserve to be ignored.

On the other hand, those who have something to say and present it thoughtfully, those are people worth listening to.

Now more than ever we need contributions from people who have something to say that matters.

How do you feel about being insulted while being asked to consider an opposing point of view? Has that happened to you?

I’d like to hear from you, share in the comments.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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  • I remember one time long, long ago when I was in a board meeting. The issue at hand was Should we meet through the summer, or convene for 2 months and resume in the fall. It was for a Bible Study which met in a church. When I presented my opinion someone spoke up but instead of just opposing my view she started with, “Are you so narrow minded…” I sat stunned and kept my smile on my face.

    Years later, as a returning student in a Speech class I remember when we did a debate. It was explained that people who are not prepared to argue their point will resort to attacking a character. I remembered that.

    I do recognize that when someone insults another person all eyes or ears are on the response of the person insulted. It’s an opportunity to show grace. The temptation is to give back what is given. I loved your idea to search for something that may be of value. I also agree that we must protect blogs so others will feel safe.

    I have not been insulted on my blog. But I suspect this will happen at some point.

    Great post, Bryan.

    • Good point about not being prepared and resorting to attacking character. It’s unfortunate, but true. The good news is, you know you’re better prepared.

  • I have not yet encountered this on my site but already have the action plan….remove. I have Michael Hyatt’s Get Noticed theme running on my platform and included in it is a blurb at the bottom about “I will remove snarky, offensive comments…yada..yada…yada.
    In dealing with people over a lifetime…..we encounter many types….we do not have to accept their dump truck pulling up to our curb and letting go……I exercise my choice to say NO or to change the environment by infusing something of value……great thoughts here in your post!!!
    BTW….”Your Mom wears army boots!! 🙂 Please don’t block me!!!

    • Ha! Having a blurb is a good idea! Army boots? I’m a military brat, so that’s no insult. 🙂

      • OK will insult you….You are a nice guy!! Enjoy this day

  • Charles Ray

    People who resort to insults when they disagree often aren’t even completely sure why it is they disagree, or what they disagree with. My response to insulting comments is to ignore them – and if they’re obscene, etc., delete them.

  • In my years of blogging, I’ve only had to delete one comment. It wasn’t so much what they said, as how they said it. (Of course, they posted anonymously.) And, if it ever happens again, I won’t hesitate to delete.

  • Kaye

    Thank you, Bryan, for this very helpful treatment on the subject. I really appreciate your example and the practical discussion you’ve provided here.

  • Michelle King Eigemann

    Hi Bryan,

    Thank you for this post, I am new to blogging so I have yet to encounter any insults but I feel I am now armed with an action plan if or when it does happen. I was once told that a writer needs to have thick skin (something i’m working on) and while I agree with that I also believe that there is no place for rude, disrespectful, or insulting people. Thank you for this nugget of information that I can carry with me into my blog. Wish me luck!

    • There are situations in life where we cannot avoid rudeness, but on our personal blogs there’s no reason why we should have to put up with it. Good luck!

  • Jamie Beckett

    As a public figure, I find myself being insulted frequently. It’s never an enjoyable experience, yet it doesn’t harm me. Not physically in any case. Neither does the experience prevent me from doing the work that matters to me. But it does provide insight into the people slinging stones, and the impression they leave is almost never positive or productive.

    There are few times when a public insult is truly called for. More often than not, it’s analogous to an adult spanking a child. The act says more about the attackers lack of control than it does about the action that brought on the attack.

    Admittedly, I have insulted people in the past. Hopefully that will happen less and less frequently as I age and (hopefully) mature as my mother so fervently hoped I would. I’m sure I’ll continue to be a target, too. While unpleasant, that’s okay. Because to garner insults you have to do something. And doing something is infinitely more appealing to me than doing nothing.

    It’s a weird and wonderful world filled with an astoundingly diverse collection of human beings. The odds of getting through life without hurling or feeling an insult is virtually impossible. The trick is in knowing when to throw and when to duck, I suppose. Then again, what do I know? I’ve been elected to public office – and that’s often enough to be a target for a lifetime of insults.


  • This was well-said, Bryan!

    When I first started out in blogging, I was a political blogger for UPI for a short time, so I hung out on their websites and similar. I think political blogs are some of the places you encounter the worst ad hominem attacks. There’s something about being disagreed with, in print (you can read the thing that makes you angry over and over again – and many people do) that just makes otherwise reasonable people lose control. I’d met many of them – I knew them as friends first!

    Because it was politics, I left the comments on, but the more I read, the more I realized that lobbing insults (and “othering,” where a commenter acts as if they simply have the majority opinion and dismiss the dissenting one before responding to it) is just a sign of intellectual laziness, nothing more.

    This realization didn’t stop rude commenters from doing their thing, but it allowed me to go about my business with more peace, without feeling the need to play fact-check-whack-a-mole with people for hours at a time, every day.

    • Hi Shan, “a sign of intellectual laziness” – yep! Totally agree. Politics is a tough one and after many experiences online I’ve decided not to engage in those discussions. They’re rarely beneficial for anyone. Great to hear from you!

      • Bryan, I agree. I’ve realized, now that blogs aren’t so new, how fruitless it ultimately is to try and convince people that Opinion X is right when they’ve got Opinion Y, and I too stay away from those discussions now. Lower blood pressure for all! 🙂

        • CSGolden

          Indeed. Alas, political debates are often plagued with bigotry.

          • And the extreme factions from both sides who get hung up on label propaganda rather than looking at fact based evidence where emotions rule over logic never leads, to productive dialogue.

  • Noel

    This is a great post Bryan. I do run my own blog too at http://lifeshowyouliveit.com and I’ve touched on this subject once partly due to personal experience. I used to get mad and irritated at bashers but I’ve learned over time that its a battle you can’t win. Rather than exhaust your time and energy with these people, the best defense is to ignore them and that taking the higher ground is the best counter. Engaging them in a heated exchange of insults will not be beneficial to us.

  • Brian,

    I so 100% agree. I know bloggers who feel they shouldn’t moderate comments because then the dialogue is not “authentic.” I actually have two responses to that. Maybe three.

    First, your blog is your property, and your visitors are your guests. If I came to your home to see you, and someone barged through the front door and started hurling insults, at either of us, would you say, “Oh, no. Let him stay. We should have an authentic conversation”? Well, if you said that, I’d never visit you again. In fact, I’d avoid you at all costs, because you treated an intrusive troll with respect, and disrespected me in the process.

    Second, your blog is your property, and you shouldn’t let anyone treat you like that. You wouldn’t let anyone treat you like that in person,would you? And if you would, you should reconsider that stance, as well.

    And yes, three. There is nothing “authentic” about insults and the like. If it comes from a troll, it’s about as inauthentic as it can get. If it comes from a real visitor who just disagrees and feels an insult is the best expression, it’s STILL not authentic, because that person hasn’t taken the time to express themselves clearly.

    On my blog, my rule is that if I wouldn’t say it to my best friend, even if I was mad at her, you can’t say it on my blog. Period. And we’ve been friends for 31 years, so we know how to talk to each other without being hurtful.

  • CSGolden

    Brilliant article and I agree with nearly everything you have written here. However I very much disliked when you called people stupid for insulting people. This strikes me as unnecessary and hypocritical and I would like to know your justification for this. Also, at the beginning of the article you insult people. Do you think that insulting people who insult people is an effective and responsible way to deal with them? Perhaps it’ll help if you give them a taste of their own medicine? After approching your article critically, these are the only aspects I have found which I consider to be significantly flawed.

    I think your overall message is very positive indeed and I love how you encourage constructive criticism and the importance of not letting anger speak for you. Keep it up and thanks for the read! X

    • Thanks! And maybe you missed this part, just below the picture:

      “Of course the introductory statement to this post is insulting, and it’s also woefully ineffective because any statement that includes insults is not worth consideration.” That also goes for the attention getting headline for the post. It’s tongue in cheek.

  • Sarah Lentz

    Thank you for this! I had to un-follow one of my first Twitter followers today because she re-tweeted outrageously insulting political snark-bombs, and this morning’s really took the cake. I’m working on making my Twitter in-box a snark-free zone–one follow (or un-follow) at a time. It’s irritating from either end of the spectrum. It adds nothing and helps no one.

  • This is a great guideline as long as people are self aware. Many use the term “haters” when in fact people are “forcing accountability.” As your well written post indicates you are in fact self aware; sadly those that do wrong quickly want to shift blame and run from any accountability. Pointing out lack of accountability though should be done with fact based evidence and not in an insulting way. Thank you for a well written and thought provoking post.

  • Forrest Brakeman

    Thank you. I couldn’t agree more. In the old days, editors used to weed out the analog version of abusive hecklers before things went to print. Now, that is our job!

  • Juan Troche

    I don’t like insulting how people look or where they went to school. Those are the worst.

  • Lucy Phillips

    Hi Bryan! I somewhat randomly stumbled upon your blog, this post specifically, and I just wanted to thank you for your insight and well-written post!

    I gather that this article, and in fact your whole blog (?), is directed towards writers/bloggers, so as an amateur writer I very much look forward reading more of your articles!

    As a woman in her early thirties with an ex-husband who seems to suffer from a permanent sore-head and is equipped with an extremely aggressive communication style with a minimal vocab’, I found this article even MORE valuable!

    The contents of this article should be taught in schools and by all relationship counsellors! The ideals, which you have articulated so well, have taken me my 30+ years to learn! It was a long, hard road and I would have made good use of knowing and understanding it, beforehand!

    I will make good use of it now though, for sure! Thank you, once again Bryan!! 🙂 xx

  • Drive By Commenter

    Why Using Insults _IS_ Stupid…

  • Maggie Howell

    Well said, Bryan. A friend posted the link to this article and I will save it for my high school students. I enjoy a hearty debate, but I am disheartened when people stoop to making nasty comments about someone’s appearance, etc. It costs nothing to be kind, as I’ve taught my own children and students. You can disagree with someone, but be civilized.

  • Bruce D. Watson

    A very good overview. I have shared the Post on LinkedIn where many Groups and manipulative individuals become insular and downright obstructive of counterpoints.

  • NoNeedisBackAgain

    I’m so glad I am not the only one who thinks like you do. Whenever someone insults me instead of giving thoughtful feedback I tell them exactly what they’re doing. 90% of the time they run away. The other 10% mostly on Social Media where they are not anonymous then go to great lengths to bully you using your profile as a means. They go look at your posts, your information and come back and then insult you, your family, your school, your job, your pets etc. When this happens I just ask them if I mean that much to them that they had to take their time to go look at my profile. Obviously I must be getting under their skin because normal people don’t waste time on people who mean nothing to them. They become worse and worse but I like to ask questions that counter their statements and some don’t answer at all, others just carry on insulting and then I keep asking the same question over and over until I ask them “why can’t you answer me?” and then they block me.

    Being in the recruitment industry I have encountered on Social media belligerent people who insult me so bad to the point that they threaten physical harm and one particular lady did this and I asked her to meet me at the police station to which she replied she will and then after 4 minutes she was there. I knew this to be a lie as it takes a person 4 minutes to get through the gate and park their car, never mind into the station. She went on and on saying she was standing with the station commander only for me to call and find out she actually isn’t there and the station commander isn’t even on duty….This went on until a colleague got involved and discovered this woman had applied for a Sales post, lived 10 minutes away, didn’t have a completed high school education yet she insulted my school, had been fired from her last job and was mooching off her family. My colleague then phoned this woman and told her she had been declined for that job due to her attitude and our clients will never in a 1000 years hire a liar and violence orientated person. She went on to say now that we have her personal details we can lay a charge and we have it Facebook as proof. She quickly removed that comment and deleted herself off of Facebook. So goes to show that your online presence can hurt you if you are not careful with your words. All this over a simple post!

    • rustyarmpit

      You are such a lying cunt.