Mastering the Art of the Thought Catalog Troll

"Being Privileged Is Not A Choice, So Stop Hating Me For It", which made the rounds today, is the perfect Thought Catalog post. 

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"Being Privileged Is Not A Choice, So Stop Hating Me For It", which made the rounds today, is the perfect Thought Catalog post. As Tyler Coates at Flavorwire put it, it's "The most Thought Catalog post to ever Thought Catalog." The headline says it all — "I’m sick of feeling ashamed for being privileged," wrote the author, running a hand through her professionally highlighted hair, probably while she looked out the window of her high-rise apartment as all the jealous poor folk walked by. "What do you suggest I do about it?" she wondered. No, really, that's the first line.

It's self-centered in the way we sometimes assume millennials are. It taps into one of the buzziest buzz words in liberal urban circles — privilege, as in check yours. And, it managed to piss off a whole lot of people who tweeted and linked to it, just like Kate Menendez probably planned when she wrote it. Jared Keller at Al Jazeera America tweeted a link, along with "ban Thought Catalog, ban it and burn it."

"'Thought Catalog' should change its name to 'Giving 19-Year-Olds Enough Rope Catalog,'" suggested Lindy West at Jezebel (again, with a link). There's also a link to the story in this article, so good for you Thought Catalog. You've got the hate-linking mastered.

You never know if a good Thought Catalog troll is truly meant to be tongue in cheek or the person is just kind of oblivious. Like a bad Onion article it's not clever enough to say something meaningful, but it's also too outlandish be a real person's genuine opinion.

A well crafted troll is one of the surest ways to get published on Thought Catalog, second to a millennial-specific wisdom listicle (ex. 22 Things I Wish I'd Known When I was 22, Now That I'm 23). Based off our observations, this is the formula for the Thought Catalog troll, in a list.

1. Craft an excellent headline

This is a universal rule, but it's especially important for trolling. If the reader can't tell they'll be offended/annoyed by the headline then you've failed. Some prime examples:

2. Choose your target demographic to anger

"Being Privileged Is Not A Choice, So Stop Hating Me For It" works so well because it offends anyone who thinks privilege — whether based on social class, race, gender or sexuality — by implying that all "unprivileged people" are jealous haters who need to stop raining Menendez' J. Crew sponsored parade. She understands being poor "blows," so why are you still mad?

And in "Your Privilege Isn’t The Problem, You Are The Problem", a swift response to Menendez posted today, Nico Lang's target demographic is everyone who kind of agreed with the original post on privilege. "I don’t hate Kate Menendez because she chose to be rich. I hate her because she chose to be an asshole," Lang writes. Which, yep. Can't argue with that. But Lang's a Thought Catalog producer. Did he not think Menendez was an "asshole" when it went up?

3. Almost have a point, and fail miserably at making it

"Being Privileged Is Not A Choice, So Stop Hating Me For It", actually has a point, kinda. If your parents did well and are able to provide for you, then you shouldn't be ashamed of that. But when Menendez says "privilege," she actually means "wealthy." She doesn't seem to actually understand what privilege, as its commonly used now, means.

4. Understand your audience

People who want to read tongue in cheek, satirical, insightful and usually funny commentary on social issues read The Onion. People who want to read egocentric personal essays on the plight of urban millennials trying to find themselves after college read Thought Catalog. You can't have your cake and eat it too, especially if you're shopping at J. Crew.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.