The Tail of the Sea Lion: Time-Wasting Trolls Drowning Activists in Notifications

3 mins read

Key Takeaways:

  • Sea lioning refers to a type of internet trolling where individuals feign cluelessness about an issue to frustrate and waste the time of activists.
  • Engaging with sea lions can be draining and unproductive; it’s essential to set boundaries and prioritize self-care.
  • Techniques for dealing with sea lions include not engaging, redirecting them to well-researched resources, asking questions, forming a group solidarity, and occasionally trolling them back.


In the vast ocean of the internet, where diverse opinions and discussions thrive, there also exists a type of troll known as a sea lion. These sea lions, no relation to the beloved marine mammals, engage in a deceptive and time-consuming tactic known as “sea lioning.” Coined by David Malki in his webcomic “Wondermark” in 2014, the term has since become prevalent among activists and educators. Sea lioning involves pretending cluelessness about an issue to frustrate and drain the time and energy of those fighting for causes. In this article, we will explore the art of sea lioning, its effects on activists, and techniques for effectively dealing with these time-wasting trolls.

Understanding Sea Lioning

Picture a sea lion swimming upright, seemingly innocuous and friendly. But beneath the surface, there lies a cunning troll ready to pounce. Sea lioning is a tactic employed by certain individuals on the internet who engage activists or educators with disingenuous questions or arguments. The goal is not to engage in meaningful dialogue but rather to derail conversations, waste time, and sap emotional energy. By pretending ignorance, sea lions force activists to engage in lengthy explanations or debates, often with no genuine intention of understanding the issue.

The Techniques for Dealing with Sea Lions

When confronted with sea lions, it is important to establish boundaries, prioritize self-care, and not allow them to dictate the terms of engagement. Here are some effective techniques for dealing with these time-wasting trolls:

1. Do Not Engage

One of the most crucial strategies when encountering sea lions is to resist the urge to engage with them. Refuting their ridiculous claims can be a time-consuming endeavor, often with little chance of changing their minds. Remember, you are under no obligation to spend your valuable time responding to every baseless argument thrown your way. As the saying goes, “Don’t feed the trolls.” Instead, focus your energy on meaningful discussions and engaging with individuals who genuinely seek understanding.

2. Redirect Them

Sea lions often accuse others of being unwilling to defend their beliefs or refusing to answer questions. Instead of falling into their trap, redirect them to reliable sources of information. Provide them with links to well-researched articles or master-posts that cover the topic in-depth. Encourage them to make a good-faith effort to understand the subject before engaging in further conversation. By doing so, you shift the burden of learning onto the sea lion and prevent them from monopolizing your time and attention.

3. Ask Questions

A sea lion’s true intentions become apparent when they consistently avoid providing meaningful responses or engage in endless question-looping. In such cases, it’s essential to identify the conversation as a waste of time. Politely ask them to address the specific points you have raised or explain what they find confusing about the subject matter. By calling attention to their lack of genuine engagement, you expose their tactics and save yourself from being lured into a pointless argument.

4. Tag Team

Dealing with sea lions can be emotionally draining. However, by rallying support from like-minded individuals, you can share the burden and create a united front against these trolls. Invite your knowledgeable friends to join the conversation and contribute their expertise. By demonstrating group solidarity, sea lions often retreat to calmer waters, realizing their efforts to derail the discussion have been thwarted. However, it’s important to ensure that nobody invests too much time and energy into futile arguments.

5. Troll Them Right Back

In cases where it becomes evident that a sea lion is not genuinely seeking information but rather looking to provoke and waste your time, consider responding with a touch of sarcasm or irony. Trolling them back with a taste of their own medicine can sometimes be an effective way to deflate their efforts and discourage further engagement. However, this technique should be used sparingly and only when you are confident in identifying a genuine sea lion.


Sea lioning is a frustrating and time-consuming tactic employed by trolls on the internet. By feigning ignorance, they aim to derail meaningful discussions and drain the energy of activists and educators. However, armed with the techniques outlined in this article, you can effectively deal with these time-wasting trolls. Remember to prioritize your own well-being, set boundaries, and engage in discussions that promote genuine understanding and progress. In the vast ocean of ideas and opinions, don’t let sea lions drown out your voice. Keep swimming, and continue making waves of positive change.

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