“So, step one: you say something, usually idly, that some kind of “ists” don’t like, because it challenges their organizing beliefs. Step two: they notice. Step three: it’s on. Full on guerilla info-war. Rage-mobbing, shaming, if you’re a woman, probably violent threats and more…”
I found this article because exactly what you describe in it happened to me this weekend and I was seeking out content to help me process it. I’m still shook up about it. It felt like I was being mauled by a bear of unknown size that seemed to grow exponentially as I (ineptly) tried to defend myself. I finally concluded that only possible response was to “play dead.” I apologized to a bunch of angry, bloodthirsty strangers — even though I didn’t mean it — just so the mauling would stop. I got out of the situation feeling stupid for having replied to a follower without first checking out the original tweeter.
So, as you point out, Why? Why would I, or anyone, stick around using a platform where this has become the norm? What’s the point if you can’t voice your opinion for fear of accidentally stepping on a figurative landmine? How is this in any way fun, empowering, or useful for anything?
Anyway, thanks for writing this piece, very insightful and I think totally on point as to what social media “culture” has become. It made me feel less isolated after what was, for me, an upsetting and hurtful situation.
I’ve been working to help build the Web in various ways for the past 20 years, and I concur, “Today’s revolutionary is tomorrow’s little tyrant.” We were so starry-eyed back then about the possibilities. Today, I’m unhappy about what we have set in motion. I hope more articles like this are written so we start working toward a correction in the trajectory.