Since there is less than one hour to go until the Twitter Trolliday, and since there hasn’t yet been enough blood, brain cells, and digital ink spilt over the matter, I thought I’d add my (not even fully-formed-yet) view.
First off I’d like to berate Tumblr for their terrible iOS web app. It seems there will be no footnotes, inline links, and all of the other bells and whistles that I like to add to my posts to make I look like I have something interesting or important to say.
I think the main point that has been missed is that what these abusers [NB autocorrected to subset - how prescient] want is a reaction. Whether you take part or not, by talking about this at all we’re legitimising their actions and giving them a huge ego boost. They don’t care whether you’re going to shut up or shout back - all they see is your anger or hurt at being targeted.
My own view is that the best thing to do is to give them literally no spotlight. No RTs, no replies, no public complaints online. If you believe a tweet to be illegal (eg a direct threat or part of a larger harassment) then pass it along to the police. Perhaps to aid this someone like Hollaback! or The F Word could start a support network for those affected. By this I mean that people shouldn’t be made to feel alone or stigmatised for being the victim of gendered (or otherwise) attacks.
I think that it’s a shame to resort to this as I’ve debated people on Facebook that initially started by trolling, but by the end we had exchanged viewpoints cordially. Whilst neither of us changed our outlook we both left better for it. However, the alternative is that you take every bullying, arrogant, knee-jerk adolescent (mind) seriously. This takes our best people and hardens them, turning them into the cynical husk of what they were before. Too many good writers have been driven away by mobs descending upon them. I only deal with this in comment threads (indirectly and in a lesser scale) but it has put me off comments and engagement for good. I have no idea how it must feel to be even minimally well-known.
This leads me (rather badly) onto something that has bothered me for a long time. Whilst anono-knobs attacking you must be bad, worst must be the in-group slanging. This is always a variation of the “No true Scotsman” fallacy. For example, I’m vehemently anti-porn and anti-Page 3. I also consider myself a feminist or an ally, whichever it is that (you personally) will allow men to be. These are already two highly controversial issues that face feminism, with people on both sides unaccepting of the idea that the other viewpoint has any legitimacy. For my take on this, see the end of The Simpsons episode ‘The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star.’ Far too often this results in schisms in the movement, taking our power and giving it to those that are really against us. And I know: all sides are as bad as one another. This really is one of those “I don’t care who started it.” moments. We need to remember that we have far more in common (whilst we believe in equality for all) than we ever will with those that oppose us. We should start acting that way. Heated debate is good as long as we listen to each other. When we start attacking our own side we all lose.
Usual caveats apply to this post: it’s all largely gushed out from my brain slowly into Tumblr, so it’s probably as incoherent as when I talk in my sleep. Also as I’m writing on my phone I’ve probably missed a load of points that I wanted to make but my thumbs just can’t keep up. That’ll be why the writing is so rough, I’m sure.