With the news that SXSW is now going to host a day-event to discuss online harassment, this having previously cancelled a harassment panel and one about the political/ethical climate of gaming. The cancellation having been due to what appears to have been third party trolls making threats related to both panels. Despite the SavePoint panel not really having anything to do with harassment, their inclusion and position as previous supporters of Gamergate demonstrates what the unwritten assumptions about the situation have been.
Leaving aside that the harassment panel has at least one out-and-proud harasser on it (continuing the trend from both UN and Google meetings about online harassment, consulting harassers) it’s obvious that the existing narrative is entirely one-sided. It is widely believed that the gamers who want uncensored games and an ethical games media, lacking corruption, are the ones harassing people.
Many of us know that this isn’t true and we have suffered quite horrific levels of harassment from the ‘Social Justice Warriors’ from people going after our livelihoods and jobs to wild accusations of things like misogyny, rape apologia, racism and so on. Reputation destroying nastiness.
My own harassment at the hands of these people has been fairly well documented. Back in 2012, long before Gamergate was ever a thing I wrote a blog article defending the use of nasty events and traumatic experiences in fiction (In Defence of Rape) and ever since then have been harassed, demonised and subjected to a level of scrutiny that Big Brother would be ashamed to engage in. This contributed to a long battle with depression and two suicide attempts, the second during the first year of Gamergate when old wounds were re-opened and even celebrities saw fit to try and shame me for my participation in the defence of free expression.
The point is, that many of the people complaining about harassment etc online are some of the worst offenders. The community that is supposedly pushing for diversity, tolerance etc is one of the least diverse (in terms of ideas) and least tolerant.
Apposite to the situation at the moment are two key incidents. The young artist Zamii has been turned on by the Steven Universe fandom of ‘progressives’ on Tumblr, and driven to a suicide attempt by that degree of intense online bullying, and Thunderf00t had his reputation and employment attacked by a group of ‘progressives’ within and around the atheism community – though this backfired spectacularly.
Many of us do not take online harassment very seriously. We know what trolling is and we know to ignore it. The character of this kind of abuse though, driving fragile people to suicide, pursuing people offline, is something much different. Much worse. Those of us on this side are often unwilling to make a huge fuss about the harassment we get and maybe it’s time we did start talking about this, documenting it, getting our experiences down and letting them be known, rather than brushing them off.
I know there’s many of you out there who have suffered. Please join me in telling your stories. Comment below with links to your stories or post a short summary of what happened to you and I’ll append the links and stories below. We can help define what actual online harassment is (going after people for real) and provide fodder to show that our opposite numbers are – at least somewhat – engaging in what they claim to decry.
If you’d rather have your experience documented anonymously, email me at GRIM at POSTMORT dot DEMON dot CO dot UK.