Last week, I wrote about trolls in my weekly whine. But the thing is, there are a lot of people who yell at you online, not because they're trolls, but because either they have a chip on their shoulder or because their opinions vary vastly from yours.
For example, when this cartoon appeared on KevinMD, some woman actually started yelling at me that the cartoon was "offensive" to stay at home moms. At first I started arguing with her, but it quickly became obvious that the woman had a huge chip on her shoulder. I know a lot of SAHMs who love being SAHMs and none of them found the cartoon remotely offense. It's pointless arguing with someone who is so sensitive about her career choice that she sees any joke in any way involving SAHMs as a personal offense.
I also made a couple of posts on here where I said that certain med students were "annoying," which caused some med student readers to fly off the handle. That seemed a little bit of an extreme reaction. Now I'm not saying the med students who were offended are themselves annoying, but... well, they probably are. Anyway, they annoyed me.
Finally, there are people online whose fundamental opinions differ from mine so drastically that it's hard to believe we even live on the same planet. I've gotten in some brutal arguments in the past about homebirth or vaccinations (guess which side I'm on) that started out as a discussion but quickly degenerated into mudslinging. When someone's viewpoint is so different from yours on an issue that's so emotionally charged, that's pretty much inevitable.
I think these people are even harder to ignore than trolls, mostly because you feel like you might actually have a chance of bringing them around to your own point of view. And of course, sometimes they're challenging a point of view that means a lot to you. How can you back down in that situation?? It would be like admitting that they're right. It takes a lot of willpower to ignore them. Plus it's sort of fun to argue until things get really nasty, which of course, they usually do.