Sunday, September 21, 2014

Harassment is part of the Internet

This is a response and refutation to the article posted by S. E. Smith of the DailyDot and the Kernal.  The same opinion piece was posted to both sites but here is the link to the Kernal and I would encourage you to read it first and come back here.  The page will open in a new tab.  I could not disagree more with the premise of the opinion piece.  My biggest problem with the article is that it portrays women as helpless victims who are at the mercy of the worst parts of the internet.

To be a woman, or someone perceived as such, online is to be considered fair game for virulent misogyny that includes being sent graphic images (some very creatively photoshopped), violent speech, and personally identifying information that serves as a reminder that your stalkers are only a few steps aware.

Well all I can say is boo hoo and welcome to the internet.  In 2009 a guy who I let stay with me posted a death threat on BlogTV.  We lived in the same town and I took this threat very seriously, as soon as I grabbed it I went to the police.  BlogTV also shut down his broadcast when the knife came out and people starting hitting the report abuse button.  His account was eventually banned.  I've had my address posted on the internet.  Yes my freaking address, they even put it on EncyclopediaDramatica.  

I had people mail pictures of my front door to me, one time someone knocked on my door at 1am.  I never answered it.  I had people contacting my neighbors and also bogus noise complaints.  I eventually had to move out.  

People began spamming my comment sections of my videos using my address.  I had to switch all of my uploads to approve only.  Yet you can see in the comment sections of my videos that pretty much any comment goes through so long as it doesn't show my address.  

To counter the point that women are the only ones who encounter sexual threats may I suggest you read some of the comments on my videos especially the ones where my weight is a topic.  From the chubby chasers who want to do all sorts of wild fetishes with me to the fat haters who want me to die.  I have had people not only trying to get me fired but at least two people have bragged about doing so on video, Corky and Cehbeach.

Yet throughout all this, I am NOT a victim.  I am merely someone who posts content online and much of the stuff I willingly brought on by myself.  For example, I have nobody to blame for the fat hating comments I get other than myself.  Nobody held a gun to my head and made me eat.  The fact that I get shamed for being fat is actually a good thing as shame is a healthy part of society.  

Other hatred comes from my views on subjects such as the gun issue, a lot of people got angry over my views on guns and two close people cut of their friendship with me because of it.  The simple truth is that if I stuck to just making balloon animals on the internet I would not get anywhere near the criticism I get now, other than the well deserved attacks on my weight of course.  However, in end of 2008 I started branching out and doing other subjects.  While this certainly did a lot for my view counts it did garner me labeled in a negative light as I never shy away from sensitive topics.

I don't exactly remember when I got my first hateful message but I found it easy to laugh off and dismiss, on the other hand, to this day I still struggle with being mislabeled.  Case in point.  A few weeks ago it started to come to light that Anita Sarkeesian most likely fabricated the story of threats made against her.  Since that time internet detectives have confirmed that the San Francisco Police have no knowledge of any reports filed by her in August and in fact they were at a loss as to how to even contact her to discuss the threat.  Anyway I tweeted the following two screen grabs to Thunderf00t.  Right click to enlarge them if you like.

Now solely because I credited my source, mansosphere blog ReturnOfKings, many people jumped on me, and in doing so they exploited a weakness I have.  I don't like being mislabeled or misquoted.  Soon a quote began circulating on twitter fabricating quotes as if they were mine.  HERE is one such example and how poorly I responded to obvious troll baiting.  Then when my friend QueenyMartha tweeted out a funny quote from my recent blog about a terrible recent date this troll went after her.  Rather than let it go, I instead got into it with this user.  See the exchange HERE.

As you can see HERE in this twitter exchange people continued to attack the source of the information, not the credibility of the information itself.  Now I will go on and state that there are things that I strongly disagree with ReturnOfKings on.  Some of it is their policies such as banning users who reply to female commenters.  Other times it is with individual articles.  While there certainly are things I would change if I were put in charge, the website is what it is and it certainly has it's place in the mansophere part of the internet.  Just as I would not dismiss a column put out by Jezebel because it is from Jezebel, I am not going to dismiss an article from ReturnOfKings.  

For the record Thunderf00t used the screen grab I sent him (although it is possible more than one person sent it to him or he found it on his own) and put it into one of his videos.  (At the 4:19 mark)  However, he did not credit ReturnOfKings for the image.  However it is clearly the same exact image.  Here is the interesting thing, I scrolled through a few pages of the comments on his video, nobody called him out like they did me for using such an unreliable source.  The facts spoke for themselves and people were discussing the merits of the evidence.  For the record, I don't regret citing my sources.  If I am attacked for my sources instead of the facts then that is on them, not on me.  

HERE is an example of false quotes being attributed to me.  I need to work harder on ignoring trolls.

Another time I recently got sucked into troll baiting was after the Ray Rice video showing the NFL player getting into a fight with his fiancee and then knocking her out I essentially sent out a tweet encouraging women to leave their abusive relationships.  I felt this needed to be said because this same woman went and married this guy one week after he knocked her out.  You would think nobody would have a problem with what I said, yet you forget obvious trolls are obvious.  

I don't like being mislabeled or misquoted and sadly too many people know that.  People are actually making YouTube videos about what I am tweeting.  One person who rarely gets a hundred views got three times his normal view count by being overdramatic about some video parody I tweeted.  I have entire YouTube channels dedicated to trashing me, and still I am NOT a victim.  I am just a person who posts on the internet and dealing with this is the price of admission.

If you post on the internet you WILL encounter people who genuinely don't like you, however far  more common is the internet troll.  NEVER feed trolls.  Ignore is the best option, block if you have to, report as last resort.  Trolls are like stray cats, if you feed them they will never leave and more will come.  You can not reason with a troll.  A troll knows no sense of decency or mercy, it has no objective other than to make you feed it more attention.  Don't ever let a troll know that they are getting to you, as this will cause a troll to jizz themselves.  Ignore, ignore, ignore.

Now as far as Twitter needing to do more, I disagree.  It took about a year for them to take down a pedophile page that I and others started going after.  This is the price of free speech on the internet.  Fear the internet that acts swiftly with abuse reports.  You may fantasize about how utopian it would be if you could banhammer all the trolls, but with that same swift banhammer you may find yourself banned as soon as someone doesn't like what you say.  

If you are fat, people will call you on it.  If you are skinny, people will accuse you of drug abuse.  If you are a woman, men will want to have sex with you and will tell you their deepest and most perverse fantasies.  If you are a man, gay men will want to have sex with you and will tell you their deepest and most perverse fantasies.  If you are short, people will make fun of you, if you are tall people will make fun of you.  If you are a quadriplegic albino transgender sex worker who suffers from immediate post-prandal upper-abdominal distension then I don't know what to tell you.

What I can tell you is that you are not a victim of online abuse unless you chose to be.  Yes, we would all love a world where people wouldn't try to get us fired, or contact our neighbors, or post our addresses online, or make threats against us, scare us out of our homes, ect, but the opposite is far worse.  An internet free from harassment is also free of any criticism where nobody is allowed to call shenanigans on bullwinkle claims.  Don't feed trolls, and never let yourself be a victim.

I will leave you with this quote from S. E. Smith

Twitter’s lack of engagement with the issue reflects an awareness of a general lack of interest in the subject socially. The service’s administrators are well aware that once the torrent of sympathy for the latest high-profile victim of abuse dies down, most people will return to their daily business—except among those of us for whom “daily business” includes clearing out our mentions constantly to remove abusive replies, and fruitlessly reporting abusive users.
And this video released just a day before.

Follow up on this discussion on Twitter