The Peculiar Similarities Of Online Mobs
There’s a pattern of behaviour I’ve noticed that two very different internet campaign groups have in common. On the surface GamerGate and Jeremy Corbyn’s enthusiastic social media followers have very little in common. GamerGate is a misogynist and bigoted right-leaning movement that seeks to limit or destroy any notions of progressiveness within the gaming industry, while purporting the only really care about an elusive understanding of “ethics in games journalism”. The Corbynites, Corbynistas, or whatever awkward name is pasted upon them, is a far-left movement that seeks to see the current leader of the Labour party accepted and endorsed at all costs, including the cost of elections. They are, undoubtedly, extremely different. And yet, I think there’s value in exploring just how peculiarly similar they are.
(I must first express my confusion and gratitude to the Corbyn gang, because while I was in the process of planning this article, they made things suddenly an awful lot easier by going and getting themselves a hashtag! So alongside #gamergate, we now comparatively have #wearehismedia, making the comparison so much easier.)
I have had the dubious displeasure of being on the receiving end of abuse and furious hostility from both groups, although by far my predominent experience has been of GamerGate (GG). Where #wearehismedia (WAHM) have entered my timelines has usually been as a consequence of my retweeting a Labour MP, or an article that’s not positive about Corbyn, and been given a brief taste of what incessantly bombards the retweeted. I also have an unhealthy habit of looking at the replies other people get, and then at the timelines of those sending the replies — it’s a fascinating anthropological horror that I can’t look away from. And in doing this, I’ve seen the same behaviours cropping up for both, again and again.
There Is No Abuse!
GG, from day one two years ago, has been an exercise in outrageous denial. Beginning (as it unequivocally did) as an attack on a lone female games developer, in response to a frighteningly unhinged blog post from an ex-boyfriend that suggested this woman had been in a relationship with a games journalist, it was born of the horror of the doxxing, and life-destroying boiling hate that descended upon her. It became a crusade, and every last iota of dirty business in games journalism was going to be stamped out, just so long as there was a woman’s life to destroy in the process. And central to this tidal wave of venom was the absolute belief that there was no tidal wave of venom.
I would receive hundreds and hundreds of insulting, cruel, or threatening tweets in a single day, mention this — even retweet them — and then receive a hundred more telling me they hadn’t happened. “Show us a single threatening tweet!” they’d demand in their dozens, suspiciously at once, often threateningly. So I’d show them one, and the rules would change. “That person has nothing to do with us!” “Anyone can put ‘#gamergate’ in their tweet!” And so on. People could post walls of the awfulness they’d received, and by mystical means none of it would count, or even exist. Jpegs with red lines all over them would be produced to demonstrate… well, to demonstrate the curling madness in the mind of the creator, but then be widely distributed to discredit the attacked individual no matter how nonsensical, usually accompanied by cruel, abusive messages. There were plenty of red-scribbled jpegs made in my honour. And I stress that I got it way more easy thanks to being a guy.
Anyone who ever mentioned on their social media that they’d been targeted would immediately be sealioned.
Any undeniable proof would be immediately assigned a conspiratorial origin, most likely written by “anti-GG”, their imagined enemy that actually consisted of everyone else on Earth. False flag! FALSE FLAG!
Would you look at that. This was a vice chair of a union responding to those pointing out Corbyn supporters were heckling at the Labour leadership debate. And this happens endlessly. It’s not Corbyn’s fans! It’s people pretending to be Corbyn’s fans to make Corbyn’s fans look bad!
But this is as nothing compared to the most extraordinary incident. Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey announced a couple of weeks back that the abuse of Corbyn’s opponents was most likely to be coming from MI5. From spies. Immediately people with volumes of abusive messages sent from their accounts were confirming that yes, of course, it had to be MI5! There was no other possible explanation. A government espionage organised false flag! (Corbyn’s team are no fan of MI5, it should be noted. Last year John McDonnell signed a letter calling for MI5 to be disbanded, the next day denying that he’d signed it, then claiming he hadn’t read it before signing it, then one day later finally admitting that yes, he’d signed it but thought it was about something else.)
The Whole Media’s Against Us!
The core of the success of GamerGate was not a desire for arbitrary cruelty. That was unquestionably the motivation for various ringleaders within the ragtag group, but these few were taking advantage of a disenfranchisement felt by the masses in its numbers. Cruelty was the result, but it wasn’t felt to be arbitrary — it was this poor, maligned underclass finally fighting back against a world and a gaming press that had turned on them. These were (mostly) young straight white men (you have never seen a group flag-waving its few non-straight-white-male membership quite so wretchedly) who saw an industry that predominantly serves their every desire as somehow turning away from them, replacing their desire for bloodthirsty man-shooting with games about brushing hair or going for a nice walk. It didn’t matter that 90% of the mainstream games being released were bloodthirsty man-shooters, and that the games they saw as tearing down all that was holy were minor indie projects — it was the end of things, and the gaming press only cared about minorities now because of political correctness. (Women are still, amazingly, considered to be included by the term “minorities” by this lot.) For them, GG was about standing up against the evil media for the few remaining scraps of rights afforded to the poor downtrodden white straight man, and if the only way to do that was to burn down the lives of people who had different tastes to them, then so be it. And why? Because they were representing the masses, standing up for the real gamers, daring to be the ones to speak out and stop the invasion of the minority. And no, the walloping contradictory irony of this has never been even noticed. The cruelty isn’t arbitrary — it’s utterly delusional.
Turning to #WAHM, while the motivations are completely different, the same batshit sense of delusional downtrodden status while believing they’re representing a majority, is a massive driving factor.
Using another technique in common that we’ll get onto below, WAHM have latched onto a wildly unscientific and never peer-reviewed study from the LSE that “proves” Corbyn receives far more negative coverage in the nation’s newspapers than any other leader. 75% of the coverage was negative! (This figure has mysteriously risen to 85% via the whispers of the internet.) There! Proof!
This is a study of the two months following Corbyn’s surprise win as Labour leader, during which time he was primarily refusing to speak to the press, that astonishingly doesn’t compare his coverage to that of any other political leader, either now, or at a comparative time in history. In other words, it’s a study that shows that the press is negative about the leader of the Labour party, which, well, yes — not exactly a surprise with a predominantly right-wing press. But somehow concludes from its findings that Corbyn is treated “well beyond the normal limits”, and has “arguably reached new heights”. Except that’s not argued, nor demonstrated, in any way by the study. It’s as if they’d declared they’d proved that cars are more dangerous than motorbikes, but exclusively looked at deaths caused by cars. It’s woefully unscientific in its design, and wildly unsupported in its conclusions. And it, on its own, is demonstrative of nothing beyond what we already knew: the press is negative about politicians. (I think the press is definitely very negative toward Corbyn, and I think it’s unquestionably more positive about politicians far more abhorrent than he could ever be, like Theresa May — it’s just this study doesn’t prove it.)
(It’s worth adding that this study is so dreadful that in its forward it states,
“Even more problematic, the British press has repeatedly associated Corbyn with terrorism and positioned him as a friend of the enemies of the UK.”
This would be the press literally quoting Corbyn. A statement he repeatedly refused to recant when asked to by the press over the two months studied.
So the press is against them. They’ve got proof! The media is maligning them and only them! The LSE study states, “He was also systematically treated with scorn and ridicule in both the broadsheet and tabloid press in a way that no other political leader is or has been.” This study took place at the time when it was erroneously reported by the press that David Cameron had once stuck his dick in a dead pig’s mouth. I really can’t add to that.
But no, it’s different when it’s Jeremy! It’s unfair when he’s maligned by people stating things he said! This is proof that they’re scared! They’re the majority the press is too scared to sell its newspapers to!
Obsessing On A Single Graph
One of GG’s favourite tricks is to find a study, a poll, or best of all, a graph, that “proves” one of their themes to be true. It doesn’t matter where the study comes from, how poorly the poll is conducted, and most of all, how wildly out of context the graph is taken: this is solid gold! And they’re going to tell you about it.
Some batshit weirdo far-right organisation puts out a press release announcing that freedom of speech is being suppressed by the liberal media, and they plaster the internet with it like they’re trying to wallpaper the place. A D-list celebrity will tweet something about how they hate SJWs, and it’ll be retweeted into the ground, then made into a jpeg and tweeted alongside a jpeg of a yucky ew-cooties woman saying something different. There will be a specious chart that “proves” Kotaku and Polygon give extra coverage to games about haircuts, and they’ll use it like a weapon for months and months, obsessively coming back to it in every argument, wrapping it around their shoulders like their flag.
And oh boy is this prevalent in the WAHM-bammers. And it’s one particular graph, and it’s so woefully misunderstood.
This, here, you see, is the proof that Jeremy Corbyn was basically Prime Minister until the attempted coup by the Parliamentary Labour Party. He was a point ahead! That he’s eight trillion points behind now is entirely because people who weren’t him didn’t manage to stop him from being the leader of the party.
Except this poll is, of course, a significant outlier. If you look at every other poll published after this, but before the sacking of Hillary Benn that initiated the vote of confidence, he’s behind in every single one. But it doesn’t matter! It’s not important! Proooooooooof! It doesn’t matter that polls of Labour voters show that more of them would want Theresa May as a leader over Corbyn. It doesn’t matter that poll after poll keeps showing “anyone other than Corbyn” as preferable to Labour voters than Corbyn. Because he was ahead in that one poll that one time!
And look at all the people at the rally! That’s, what, 3,000 people! How can you say that he’s going to get the party obliterated in the next election when they represent 0.03% of the total number of people who voted Labour in 2015?! LOOK AT THE GRAPH!
They Have Some Weird Obsession With The Jews
This article is not quite finished — there are a couple of other examples, including obsession subservience to a deeply flawed individual, the invention of an imagined “anti-” organised group that actually includes everyone who isn’t them, and the actual “anti-” organised groups who end up being just as revolting as those they oppose. But I’ve got to go out.