This post is a rant because, despite all the things my blog has become known for… it is still my personal blog where I talk about how I am doing.
Today I’m angry and need to vent.
Alternative title: Need to vent. Might delete later.
Just days ago my Twitter timeline was blowing up with news of Near’s death. It’s a very difficult and heartbreaking story. I don’t really want to say much about this loss other than it is a tremendous loss.
I’ll share the two tweets, but please look up this person’s contributions too. This post is not meant to be disaster porn, I’m here to talk about things very real to me…
This story hit me really hard. For most of the days after Kotaku removing the article I was flying high, but then reality of all the things that happened hit, especially after reading this.
His thread took me to a familiar place, one that I’ve been to often.
It is hard to express how often I wanted to disappear, for all this to just stop, to please be over… I’ve left behind many threads in line with that, which people have reported to the Twitter police.
Maybe they mean well, but my account getting suspended for what I’m going through probably would do more harm than good.
What is particularly difficult to swallow is that Kiwifarms, a site notoriously known for targeting people, is responsible for that.
I’ve shown up on the site more than once too, and was frequently made a target on these places because of the entire Kotaku thing…
…How people love to discourse.
I can hear all the takes already. I brought this on myself. What was I thinking? That’s what I get for being so public. How am I even worth believing? Ugh, I was too loud! Can’t I just be like all the other survivors; take my meds, go to therapy, and shut up?
God… shut up. Just take it.
Take it like a champ. Silently. Without inconveniencing anyone.
…All while you’re being harassed. Drowning under the darker parts of the internet. The parts that are threatening you. Want you to die. Want you to kill yourself….
It’s all such a sport.
It’s all so very real, so very relatable.
A website succeeded in doing this to someone, and the most difficult part about it is that they will be here tomorrow, and the day after, and after… They are here and the person is gone.
There will be no accountability. Nothing will happen other than them finding another person to do this to.
I’ve been a target to things like this, on and off, ever since I can remember. I’ve been making online art since highschool and the internet never really laid off since.
It’s ok. This is fine!
I’ve gotten used to being pursued like this, but over the years this sort of mentality has shifted a lot into entering the realm of just… acceptable?
Anonymous accounts became named accounts, with people’s actual identity tied to their hate… and actually… it’s all just fine. People read, retweet, even enjoy such cruelty. There’s even money you can make from it.
Who would have thought!
When I came forward about my assault, I was ready for people like this. I was fully willing to face the incurred wrath of the internet trolls from places like 4chan. To get doxed more, stalked more… all the things you would expect.
You work yourself up to being ready. You’re ready to get annihilated… But what choice do you have? You can’t live with it anymore…
I was not ready for… maybe “expecting” would be a better word… I was not expecting people within this industry, progressive voices that I looked up to, public not-anonymous faces with not-anonymous names that talk about things like taking a stance against doxxing and harassing, to do what they did.
Maybe you’re never really ready. It’s always a shock to see it happen.
I think, after a lot of reflection, that this type of behavior has been normalized to a point of it being more than safe for typically very progressive people to partake in the occasional sport of singling someone out.
I’ve been struggling a lot with coming to terms with a two year marathon where I had to argue with the internet that I’m actually human, worthy of safety, worthy of dignity. That I told the truth… wild how “the truth” was taken away for the sake of sensationalism. Do they know who they are protecting? Yes. I don’t think the fact that this was about rape really ever mattered.
It would seem obvious. We all understand that something that empowers incels, rape apologists, rape fetishists… just all sorts of horrible people… should probably be addressed so it stops placing the vulnerable people in danger. Maybe help the people you said you stand by, you know. It wasn’t done ethically even. I gave proof! It should be easy to address this with sincerity.
Shockingly, that’s all very nuanced.
I’m really tired and sore. I also feel bad about the pessimism because people want to see me be happy, but it sure feels good to vent…
(I’m in a much better place now. Thank you. Either way…)
I was not ready for all the takes from progressive voices who set themselves up as allies. I was not ready for DM’s from strangers sharing how said progressive voice abused them too, and that it’s no surprise that I got singled out by them… not ready for the takes working so hard to normalize abuse that seemed so obviously wrong to normalize, being equated to starting a “new gamergate movement” against journalists by developers, and for journalists to equate me to Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel… god help me, I could go on to no end, spinning in circles, trying to understand two years of my life that I pretty much just lost.
I expected Kiwifarms, 4chan, Kotaku In Action, the incels… to attack me. I did not expect friends to do the same.
The ongoing thread in all this is how easy social media (Twitter) made it to do this. How completely natural it came to people to heart the abusive vague Tweet directed at me, for people I never even met to just join in without knowing context…
I mean, it’s wild. At one point, when a lot of high profile people were coming out in support of the journalist that abused me, people that supported me made a point to show them the stuff I wrote. You know, “the evidence”. A few of them said things like “I’m not reading that. It’s too long. I already made up my mind.”
I’m thinking a lot about how initiatives like Anita Sarkeesian’s Game and Online Harassment Hotline are just not enough.
Please don’t read this as a criticism to her or what she is doing… I just think our model for how to deal with this stuff is intrinsically broken. Over the years I’ve gotten plenty of offers from people to help me by setting up various ways of me protecting myself. While I was arguing with game journalists, Kotaku, and the internet in general, about why that article should get deleted, things got so bad that my mom had to vet my email.
You can keep adding layers of protection, but when it comes down to it, nothing can protect you from being elected as the Favorite Target or Talking Point.
I think initiatives like this can be compared to teaching women self-defense so they don’t get assaulted. In the end, it’s great, but you can teach and prepare all you want. That shouldn’t be the responsibility of the person targeted.
The culture needs to change. We need to have a serious talk about how we use social media.
In my last post I unpacked a lot of this stuff under context of my own experiences.
Whenever I reflect on all this, I’m amazed at how natural it is to hurt someone over these platforms.
It’s almost like these spaces excel the most at singling people out for how they are designed to amplify outrage.
For example, after a journalist singled out my situation for casual discussion… the situation backfired on them. One person from their group wrote a vague Tweet directed at me. It was fucked up, and the entire thing was just dehumanizing.
That vague Tweet was used by their followers to harass me. The Tweet in question seemed really innocent. It was easy to “like” it because it was relatable.
In context, it was really cruel.
That shit really got put on blast, but the vagueness of it all made it easy for others (not knowing what it was about) to heart and share. So overall, things like this kept snowballing.
Since it’s all vague, the people directing that at someone can deny what it’s really about. Nobody has to be responsible… except the person it is directed at.
Things like this went on for almost two years. This horrible, dehumanizing, heartbreaking… situation getting casually discussed.
What I think made it difficult too is that people who meant well were hard to discern from the people that didn’t.
Our online spaces seem structured in a way where there’s no real difference between something maliciously directed at someone, and something that’s not.
For example, the times that I had to stand up for myself because a journalist put this situation on blast and it resulted in me getting harassed… there was no real reasonable way of doing that in a way that was acceptable to people.
If I ignored the bad vague tweets or takes, then I just had to suck up the horrible shit it sent my way.
If I chimed in, then I was responsible for putting them “on blast” and getting them “harassed”.
The structure exists to amplify all that. There’s no way that you can “stay out of it”, especially when you’re in the middle of it all.
In the end, all this was about sexual assault. A survivor was expected to walk this insanely thin tight rope for almost two years so that they can have a life after coming forward.
It was the type of tight rope that not even politicians running for re-election are expected to navigate. You are expected to be perfect, flawless, never get angry, don’t be too triggering but also you have to overshare otherwise it won’t get taken seriously… ok now don’t share too much because you’re “adding to the collective trauma”… ok now share more because they don’t believe it’s happening… It’s a special hell to be trapped in. Most of it was completely unnecessary.
I think there’s a lot to unpack about how easily social media can be weaponized against vulnerable people.
There were so many points that my mom had to talk me off the ledge after I came out of the other end of a wave of harassing takes. I’m truly surprised I made it at all.
The way it affects your ability to look at a space gets distorted for the pure volume of people that participate.
I know that I got a lot of support too. Enough for it to be a thing that journalists mass blocked. I got a lot of supportive messages that pulled me through… I also think it’s amazing how hard it is to hear the support over the horror of it all. I don’t know why, but it’s really hard to hear those that love you when this really traumatizing thing is happening.
It’s what makes the Near story so very real too. I know it. I’ve been there. It is so easy to lose someone to this without anyone really knowing until it’s too late.
I wish we talked about this more. We really have to start talking about it.
It is hard to imagine that so many reasonable and responsible adults would just jump in and causally participate in the cruelty. A lot of this behavior, these takes, would not be acceptable in an in-person public space. There would be social repercussions.
However, over Twitter, there are none. Everyone can join in over a weekend, and move on from it like it was nothing.
There’s no accountability for any of this.
When a journalist put me on blast, nuancing my situation, they just turned around and made a few threads about being allies to survivors, and that was done.
The same for most of the people participating in 4chan.
When you’re on the receiving end of this, there’s very little difference between 4chan and Twitter takes from progressives. They’re both just as cruel.
I think we really need to start having serious talks about how we are all responsible for this and who gets hurt the most when we participate in The Discourse.
Social media, the internet horde, all these websites in combination… can amplify the worst in our space, when it gets directed at someone vulnerable.
I’m making a horror game based on all these experiences. This post is the first of many where I try to grapple with what happened to me, and try to contextualize it as a game. I don’t really know… I’m trying to process.
This post has a sarcastic title.
Cosby’s conviction got overturned today. To further twist the personalized-to-my-home-feed knife one of the people that targeted me with a viral bad take was being generously retweeted for participating in some discourse, as an ally, for something they once were not an ally for.
You see it often. If you fucked up and were anti-trans (for example), and harassed trans people, just flood your feed with pro-trans discourse and you’ll be able to erase your harassing past… but ok that’s an unnecessary tangent. This isn’t about one asshole, it’s about how this space is used to most benefit the abusers.
Our culture, legal system, social circles, all of it… is structured to single out survivors, those most vulnerable, and empower abusers. Naturally, social media will be structured the same.
If we want that not to be the case we really have to talk about this stuff. We have to honor the awareness that people who spoke up gave us. We need to honor the sacrifice. We need to stop victim blaming… god there’s a lot. How about just reflecting on how you use social media?
If Bill Cosby’s trial were game industry Twitter discourse…
You would see lots of big accounts discussing if what he did was bad enough to warrant him being held accountable. That he’s a great guy that always treated them with respect. It’s all such a shock! Ugh, it’s so annoying when people that were hurt make everyone “pick sides”.
Should we really destroy this person’s future for a few mistakes he made? Who are the people accusing him even?
Rape? No, we can’t legally say that, even if we’re private accounts. Let’s be professional. It’s called “sexual misconduct” from here on out.
We would be targeting his survivors. We would be concerned for his well-being (not theirs), and then there would be more takes about the nuances of accountability.
Formerly abusive people, or people who were formerly allies to abusive people, would write long takes about how accountability actually works, how restorative justice should “actually be centered on the abuser”, and not the person hurt… because it’s never about the person hurt… those pesky people that get hurt, ugh!
Notable voices would work really hard to nuance what he did to the extend of kicking a dead horse… it’s “not a black and white issue” and the harm he is responsible for is actually really really really complicated. It’s not about “right or wrong” there are grey areas… are we sure we should even hold him accountable? It’s exhausting to see people targeted like this.
People that point out how The Discourse is abusive toward those harmed would get blocked by the bigger celebrity accounts because the progressive voices just want to safely discuss this horrible trauma without getting attacked. Give us a break! We’re trying, ok?
The entire thing would get so nuanced, so complicated, that more angry takes would get directed at the people he hurt because how dare they come forward and “spread their pain” everywhere? Can’t they air out their dirty laundry in private?
He would write an apology, pin it, and stay off Twitter for two weeks.
Two weeks is the amount of time it takes for the next Trending Topic to take away all the attention.
People that he did not hurt would chime in, very supportive of him, accepting his apology… accepting it not on behalf of those he hurt, but because he’s such a champ. Those he hurt should stay out of this! It’s not about them anymore!
When things blow over, he would write very insightful threads about being a good ally to survivors, his views on being there for survivors, how he was abused too or is a survivor too actually… and lots of easily retweetable threads about how abusers should be held accountable. They would get retweeted because they sound smart. They are great takes that remind you of why you follow this man!
Things would get buried because he’s such a great guy, and those people he hurt are kinda sketchy anyway.
He would bounce back, and repeat the cycle, but enjoy more allies covering for him.
The people that came forward would get buried in the nuance of it all, and everything about them brought into question.
The people he hurt would be expected to leave the space because they’re not welcome here anymore. They are too problematic. They are too loud!
A small handful of indies would remember what is now considered nothing more but Twitter drama and maybe bring it up next time he hurts someone.
Rinse and repeat.
…Less Pessimism Please?
Ok, I’m sorry. It’s very hard for me to find optimism.
Can we change things? Can accountability be a topic that people hurt get to have a say in?
Can we reflect on how we use social media? On how maybe we are unwitting accomplices in harassment toward someone when we retweet that harmless looking take that’s just so good?
Can we remember when someone hurt someone, and care about both people enough to hold the person doing the harm accountable?
The exhausting loop of seeing someone come forward with something truly heartbreaking, take all the risks just to speak up, and then watching how so many close ranks around the abuser is not sustainable.
There’s an unspoken rule in indie games: If you’ve been abused too much, you are expected to leave.
It just makes sense. Why are you still here?
I wish these expectations would (respectfully) shift…
If you’ve been hurt, you have even more of a right to dig your heels in, and stubbornly push back until you’ve changed everything around you. You have a right to be here, even if it means fixing this space (or “breaking it” depending on who’s take is popular). You have a right to be outgoing about the problems and push for substantial change, even if everyone around you is yelling that it’s not possible.
I don’t really have much optimism left, especially not when I write reflective things. I’m ranting. I wrote this for the catharsis.
I’m tired, disappointed, angry at the “rinse and repeat” that we’re so happy to participate in… especially if it just means a shot at being in the “in club”.
At some point we’re going to have to reflect on all the people lost to harassment, hate, abuse… and really let the extent that we’ve been complicit sink in.
Analyzing how we use social media, how we participate in all this, would be a great first step.