Ella, I can’t say I’m grateful for your piece. I’m shaken. It’s not like I don’t know what’s going on. I left Facebook because of alt-right jackasses, and I’m a white guy in his 50s. But your piece is enraging. You’re stronger than I have ever been. But what’s insidious about the alt-right harassers is their sort of louche meta contextualization. Not just the smart guys like Milo Yiannopoulos and Steve Bannon but also the dimwitted rage cowboys — they all claim that Twitter/Reddit/Facebook/etc. are a joke and anybody who takes it seriously are idiots. It’s a childish and effective strategy. Milo can crow with glee when he’s been banned from Twitter because it doesn’t really matter. Everybody talks shit online, etc, and if someone actually cares what others say about them online, then they deserve what they get.
This approach gives them permission to commit acts of violence against people and the ability to discount it immediately. Speech acts are real acts. Words matter.