Whoops! You’re a gaslighter
So you’ve been gaslighting have you? Or maybe you’ve been in a conversation that made you feel crazy and terrible? Unfortunately, it seems most gaslighters aren’t aware they are and identifying one in the moment can be difficult, so here’s a guide to comments I regularly get online to serve as an example. It’s way worse than ‘trolls’ or ‘haters’, it’s an insidious practice that’s really bad for your mental wellbeing. Now, if you’ve been gaslighting you can realise you are and if you’re a victim you can shut it down.
One good way to define gaslighting is “the denial of someone else’s reality”. If you have feelings they call you ‘sensitive’. If they said something negative and you call it negative, you’re ‘misremembering’ or ‘misinterpreting’. Anything you think or feel is always wrong and they are always right, it doesn’t matter what it’s about. The point of this behaviour is to crush you mentally and emotionally so they can control you and feel good about themselves.
Some external references
Misuse of the word?
I am aware that widespread misuse of the word ‘gaslighting’ is damaging. As described in THIS ARTICLE, people often misuse the word. “Gaslighting is often used in an accusatory way when somebody may just be insistent on something, or somebody may be trying to influence you” and that “Misusing the word gaslight can shut down otherwise productive conversation”. That’s why to count someone as a gaslighting it must NOT be:
(A) Just someone trying to influence or convince you of something.
(B) An actually productive conversation. If there is any productivity to be had, I don’t count it as gaslighting. Once they start looping and repeating gaslighting techniques, then there is nothing productive left.
(C) Just a troll trolling. Sexism, racism, insults, and hostile language may be a good reason to ban someone but it’s NOT gaslighting.
Why do I bother with any of this?
Because growing up I’ve been a personal victim of gaslighting and in the past few years I’ve realised that gaslighters are everywhere. Sharing this list not only informs people how to identify it but also that they shouldn’t give these people their time. I want to make sure I’m not just banning people who make me uncomfortable because then I’ll never grow. I also want to ensure I’m not turning off criticism because my work has improved so much because people criticise. However, I’ve also had so much heartache dealing with gaslighters when I didn’t know what it was. Having criteria helps me cut them out without censoring opinions. Now I’ve figured it out, I’m sharing to help others.
Is this just to stop any and all criticism?…
Criticism is useful, but if you use 4 or more things from this list in your criticism your intention isn’t to critique, it’s to manipulate. For example, I would never ban anyone who types things like:
“I think this video sucks, your overlay just gets in the way and it’s annoying.”
“What’s with the audio? It’s unbearably bad.”
“Sorry but I find your voice annoying.”
See these are either actual critiques of a video or an expression of preference. They’re unpleasant and if you want to ban them it’s totally valid, but I know that I personally can take them so I leave them. It can be a little insulting but there’s nothing gaslighting about any of these. In fact, gaslighting tends to specifically avoid insults so when you get mad or ban them they call you ‘sensitive’. However, see how these differ from what comes next:
Comments I Regularly Get That Are Gaslighting
Here is a list of comments that are gaslighting, see if anything you said or saw matches these. If you’re here from me banning you, it means you did at least 4 of these, this is my checklist and you have to do 4 before I ban you. I have tested this on a multitude of gaslighters and so far none have been able to use anything outside of these 9 points, so it’s pretty comprehensive. Have fun reading!
1. Making themselves immortal in the conversation
If you ban me I’m right and you’re wrong. Of course, ban any criticism and pretend you’re perfect. If you block me that’s censorship. Go ahead, block me because you don’t have any valid points.
2. Using 🛡️positive words as a shield for their 🗡️hostile spear
🛡️ I (love/respect/admire) your (work/opinion/decision/appearance)
🗡️ BUT… (disrespects/insults your work/opinion/decision/appearance).
I respect your decision but I think it makes you a bad person. That’s your insecurity talking, I still love you though.
(Also includes sarcastic positive words)
I love how you manage to cater to idiots. Yeah you’re so great for making this basic video!
3. Ignoring/belittling feelings
Freedom of speech means I can insult you and you have to take it. (Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences, you can ban anyone you like) If you’re offended then you’re too sensitive. Being criticised is part of the job, if you can’t handle it maybe you should quit. (It is part of the job but blocking or banning hateful people isn’t ‘not being able to handle it’) Sorry I hurt your feelings but get used to it, this is the Internet. (Expecting hurtful words doesn’t mean you just have to sit there and take it) If you’re bothered that’s your problem, not mine. Stop being triggered over nothing. (Unpopular/offensive opinions can be legit but an honest commenter would focus on the topic. Calling you ‘too sensitive’ means they aren’t trying to change minds, they’re trying to ‘win’)
4. Implying you or your thoughts or actions are abnormal to frame their own as normal… when it isn’t
A normal person would… Usually someone would think… It’s odd that your thinking is like that. This is normal, I don’t know why you can’t understand. You’re overreacting. Why are you making such a big deal of this? Really… you think THAT? If you think I’m gaslighting there’s something wrong with you.
5. Rewriting history
I never said that… (when they did). What I actually meant was… (when what they said was the opposite). Sorry you read it wrong… (rather than being sorry for bad communication, you can only read what they write). (Also ‘quoting’ you by writing things in quote marks but you never actually said that, AKA strawmanning)
You say: I get criticism every day, it’s impossible to cater to everyone because it’s often conflicting.
They say: “I ignore criticism and pretend I’m perfect”, yeah great approach you got there.
6. Attacking your reputation
You did this, showing you can’t be trusted… (when it doesn’t). If you were truly an expert then you would think the same as me… If you do this then according to (random life philosophy) you are bad. A good person would do ‘this’. Obviously you don’t understand even basic things. How you have this much of a following is beyond me.
7. Denying all wrongdoing while blaming you
You decided to do this bad thing, not me… (when you didn’t do the bad thing and they did do a bad thing). I’m not wrong to do this thing… (when it is wrong to do that thing). Everything I do is good, everything you do is bad. When I did it, it didn’t count. I never meant what I said, you’re just reading too much into it.
8. Calling you ‘fake’
The only reason you did this is for views. Your behaviour is fake to get more attention. Why are you pretending to like something you clearly hate… for views? Stop lying (when you aren’t and it wouldn’t make sense to lie).
9. Focusing on other topics to distract you
Why you banning me? I love you man. Anyway, could you review this other game?
(For example: You’re talking about game mechanics but the ONLY thing the gaslighter wants to talk about is semantics… They refuse to focus on the original topic and side step into other points because they know they can’t win on the original topic.)
Now I’m going to create a comment built from various gaslighters that have been banned on my channel. This comment will use all 9 points in no particular order. Usually a gaslighter would use 4 to 6 points, but this will help you catch all of them. See if you can identify where each point is.
Hey! I really love your work and been watching since you had only 100 subs! I just think recently you’ve been a bit lazy, you haven’t been uploading as much and maybe people should unsubscribe? I know being a YouTuber is hard work but so is any job, we all work 9 to 5 and you should too if you’re actually taking this seriously. Even if you are just doing this for the fame and money. Don’t ban me lol! This is just my opinion, thought I’d share since you seem like a level headed person :) I didn’t say that you were slacking that hard. Anyway, have you checked out the new Sims game? Any review coming? You said you loved the first game since your childhood but by the way you played it seemed like you never played it before haha!
THE ANSWER IS WHITE TEXT HERE, so highlight the text to see the answer:
 I really love your work and been watching since you had only 100 subs! I just think recently you’ve been a bit lazy, you haven’t been uploading as much and maybe people should unsubscribe?
 I know being a YouTuber is hard work but so is any job, we all work 9 to 5 and you should too if you’re actually taking this seriously.
 Even if you are just doing this for the fame and money.
 Don’t ban me lol!
 This is just my opinion,
 thought I’d share since you seem like a level headed person :)
 I didn’t say that you were slacking that hard.
 Anyway, have you checked out the new Sims game? Any review coming?
 You said you loved the first game since your childhood but by the way you played it seemed like you never played it before haha!