Monday, August 29, 2011

This Is Not How We Do, Guys.

Death Threats and Hate Crimes, Attacks Against Women Bloggers Increasing.

Lots of smart people have tackled the relative merits of anonymity vs. pseudonymity vs. Real Names online before me, but it's a psychological fact: when you*, or your victim, wearing a mask, it's easier to hurt them. They seem less real to you, and it's easier to make completely heinous statements and threats that you would never carry out or wish for in real life. When that internet-induced callousness is pointed towards a subset of people who historically have had to fear mob violence**, it stops being a matter of blowing off steam. It's the start of a chilling effect that makes any further discourse impossible at best, punches right on the PTSD button, or maybe even inspires someone else to actual physical violence. I've seen a blogger/author whip his fans into making graphic rape threats against a female blogger who excoriated his book, and another author who is still stalking a blogger two and a half years after she called him a racist. Come on, guys. Be better than that. There is someone standing behind that avatar, even if they do look like the Twitter egg. I'm going to hazard a guess that 99.9% of the folks saying vile things to others on the internet don't actually want harm to come to the bloggers (and they know what they can do with themselves if they do), but it's still akin to waving around a loaded gun while doing tequila shots.

*General "you" unless specifically stated otherwise.

**I'm talking specifically about women bloggers as far as this post is concerned, but that's not me being mealy-mouthed: the rule applies to gay or trans folks, people of color, whatever the evil immigrant group of the day is, and so forth.

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