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Playing With / Internet Tough Guy

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Basic Trope: A Real Life wimp who likes to pose as a badass online.

  • Straight: In a Flame War (or even a previously peaceful discussion), Bob threatens someone with a lawsuit or an act of violence, despite being mild-mannered and unimposing.
  • Exaggerated:
  • Downplayed:
    • The user that has a username like Boom, Headshot!, or whose avatar or picture is of himself armed or in military gear, rarely if ever actually threatens anyone.
    • "Oh that's just Bob. He likes to threaten people but never acts on it."
  • Justified:
    • An MMORPG or First-Person Shooter where the goal is to trash-talk and threaten one's opponents, if done in-character.
    • In the case of legal or law enforcement threats, when a problem has become so severe a lawsuit or police intervention is the least bad option — and there are legitimate grounds for filing suit or calling the police, such as blatantly, provably libelous statements made by someone with enough position and money to be worth suing, or threats of actual violence made by someone who has shown ability to carry them out.
  • Inverted:
    • Bob is someone capable of such legal or physical harm off the Internet (an IP lawyer or a Force Recon Marine on the legal side, an organized crime boss or a Serial Killer on the criminal side for example), but on the Internet, he's the most peaceful, self-controlled person possible.
    • Advertisement:
    • A Serial Killer or the like tries to cultivate an image online that is not only polite, but rather cowardly and wimpy to lull his potential victims into a false state of security.
  • Subverted:
  • Double Subverted:
  • Parodied:
  • Zig-Zagged:
    • Bob threatens someone, but backs down on his threats when he is threatened in return by someone else.
    • Bob is easily triggered, but when not triggered he is thoughtful and kind and gets along with people. When he is triggered, however, he threatens people.
    • It's hard to tell if Bob's constant threats are Suspiciously Specific Denial, Reverse Psychology used to cultivate a tough guy image, trolling, or sarcasm.
  • Averted: The shy introvert is still thoughtful and kind on the Internet.
  • Enforced:
    • The communications venue happens to be a place where people feel as if they need to present as tougher/angrier/more violent than they would otherwise be.
    • Some MMORPGs, MOBAs, and First-Person Shooter PVP modes.
  • Lampshaded: "Looks like we have another twelve-year-old keyboard commando again."
  • Invoked: "I disagree with you on this topic." "I'll Kill You!!"
  • Exploited: The threat is used as a form of derailing to change the topic or get people fighting.
  • Defied: In a situation where making a threat might even be legitimate or at least understandable (e.g., calling the police or the person's parents or filing a lawsuit might actually be a good idea), Bob refuses to make the threat and instead tries to handle the problem himself.
  • Discussed: "I think our forum should have a rule against posting pictures of personal firearms. We're not a gun forum and this has been a problem in the past with Internet tough guys making threats."
  • Conversed: Two people are having a conversation about the time someone threatened them on the Internet.
  • Implied: The site has something like Wikipedia's entire page on its No Legal Threats policy, which implies that, yes, in the past people have made threats of legal action to silence discussion — and that is why legal threats are a bannable offense there.
  • Deconstructed: No one believes such threats, and the people making them or taking traditional Internet Tough Guy stances are seen as pathetic and wimpy, using threats and bluster as Compensating for Something.
  • Reconstructed: Bob finds another forum where he's believed to be what he says he is and can scare people.
  • Played for Laughs: The Internet Tough Guy uploads a video purporting to be of himself doing some badass feat to scare his would-be targets, except he fails miserably at it.
  • Played for Drama: The Internet Tough Guy couldn't harm a flea, but everybody treats him as if he would and the site goes cold whenever he makes his presence known.

I'll fire my Davy Crockett nuclear bazoooka at you if you don't go Back to Internet Tough Guy!

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