It’s been a whirlwind week here on the Emerald Isle. Thanks to a little piece I wrote for the Irish Times explaining terminology of the alt right, I was roundly denounced in the media and by some of the country’s most influential people, including the head of the local Amnesty International affiliate. What happened next landed me on one of Ireland’s biggest primetime chat shows and The Gavin McInnes Show.

I didn’t wake up last week expecting to find myself the most hated man in Ireland, but things snowballed pretty quickly. My talent for throwing gas on a fire only intensified things. Not only did I never apologize, I basically spent a day antagonizing the people who were outraged.

It all seems to have paid off pretty well. I gained nearly 2,000 Twitter followers, had the opinion editor of Ireland’s newspaper of record write an article defending my piece, and turned down more media appearances than I accepted. The whole ordeal was a crash course in how to deal with the media and the principle that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Here are my main takeaways from my time in Ireland’s two-minute hate hotseat.

Don’t apologize, counterpunch. Come out swinging with both barrels locked and loaded. You’ve already stepped in it. Running away will just track it through the house.

1. Never Apologize, Ever
This is the first thing anyone facing down a raging mob should know: They don’t want your apology. They want you destroyed. And your apology is just handing them the gun to kill you with. Anything that even comes close to any apology is like throwing chum to a shark. The outrage machine is, by definition, not a reasonable group of people who want to talk things out and come to common ground. They’re a totalitarian gang who want to hang you from the nearest lamppost.

Don’t apologize, counterpunch. Come out swinging with both barrels locked and loaded. You’ve already stepped in it. Running away will just track it through the house.

2. The Outrage Machine Is Grinding to a Halt
Things have changed. It’s not 2013, the year that Pax Dickinson lost his job at Business Insider for making fun of Mel Gibson for using racial slurs. You can’t just call someone a bad name (“racist,” “misogynist,” “homophobe,” “xenophobe,” or what have you) and wait for the digital lynch mob to run its course. For one, most regular people are just tired of outrage. They don’t have any more energy to dedicate to it. For another, people like Pax and Vox Day have shown the rest of us what to do when the outrage machine shows up on your doorstep.

I’m not sure if I could have handled what backlash if it had happened a couple years ago, but I’ll never know. The important part for anyone who might be facing down the mob in the future is this: They actually have very little power. What they have is the illusion of power and even that’s quickly evaporating.

3. I’m Stronger Than I Think
If you had asked me before how I would react to the outrage machine coming after me, I probably would have predicted that I’d go into hiding until it blew over. Instead, I came out with guns blazing, fighting back. I learned something about myself and what I’m made of through this whole ordeal. The answer is that I’m made of slightly sterner stuff than I would have previously thought.

Sometimes you can only learn how strong you are when you get tested. I generally don’t go around patting myself on the back, but I was proud to learn I was tougher than I would’ve guessed. I suggest that, when the time of your testing comes, you will be too.

4. It Doesn’t Take Much to Get Noticed in Ireland
I know I’m prone to having some fun at the expense of Ireland, but this is just a stone cold fact: I was the number-one trending topic in Ireland for several days running. The highest number of tweets I saw putting me there was a little under 3,000. I’d wager it doesn’t take much more than 1,000 tweets to get trending in Ireland. This might have been a big deal in America, but I sort of doubt it.

The good news for you is that whatever lovable foibles hit the Internet, they probably won’t be national news for a week running.

5. The Internet Is Basically Not Real
Sure, on Twitter and in the media there were people shrieking for my blood. Here in the real world? Not so much. When I go to the supermarket, I wonder if anyone recognizes me, especially after having been on national prime-time television. But no one has noticed me that I know of and the lads at the gym basically just think it’s a laugh riot.

Let’s say the entire Internet decides they hate you. All of it. Guess what? Unless you live in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago or New York, you’ll probably not encounter anyone who even knows what’s happening. Even if you do live in a media hub city, most people there couldn’t be bothered, either.

6. There’s a Massive Disconnect Between the Elites and Everyone Else
I’m not sure the average Irishman would understand what happened even if I explained it to them. It’s not even that it’s “over their heads” or something. It’s more like you’d be explaining it to them in Swahili. They don’t use the same language as the Dublin media and academic types who attacked me. It’s just not interesting to them. They’re too busy worrying about how they’re going to pay their mortgage and put their kids through school.

The establishment types (and yes, this is an overused term, but until anyone finds a better one, I’ll have to use it) are repeatedly shocked when they learn about people who live outside their bubble. When I spoke to connected people I know who work in major media outlets, they said I did very well and came off as a “man of the people” on live television. I’m sure that the converse is also true: That to more affluent and educated types, I came off as a sputtering rube.

pell-newspaper

Ultimately, for me, the important part of all this is that I was able to have my say and not be chased into hiding from an angry mob. I hope it never happens to you, but if it does, I hope that my example will help you to weather the storm.