[Discussion] The Inconceivable Power of Trolls in Social Media

This is a follow-on to the nearly two year old topic "Trouble at the Kool-Aid Point." The intention is to provide a place to discuss the unreasonable power social media trolls have over women and minorities, with a primary focus on video games (though other examples are certainly welcome).

Tyops wrote:
UpToIsomorphism wrote:

2) I hope they don't look too hard at Walt's stances.

... because a large organization can't take a more progressive position than those held by its long dead founder?

Not that it matters, but Walt was not particularly anti-semite. (He was pretty sexist: women were only allowed in the Ink & Paint department.)

He was also very anti-communist, particularly after the 1941 strike, and did point fingers at suspected communists before the House Unamerican Activities Committee. Though he also gave Soviet filmmakers like Sergei Eisenstein tours of the studio.

Gremlin wrote:

So as it turns out, ironic racism is pretty much just actual racism that uses the joking as a cover. I don't know what PewDiePie's intent was--but it doesn't matter. Not when bonafide Nazis are using you as a rallying symbol.

This Film Critic Hulk twitter thread gets at the dynamic. It's one that we've seen a lot of over the past few years: start by making outrage jokes, end by listening to your new supporters who came from the hate sites.

And in replies to that particular thread, a link to Breitbart, where former YouTube star JonTron writes about outrage culture and the rise of free speech... pretty much a pre-pewdiepie version of exactly what pewdiepie is doing right this very minute and will be doing over the next year or so.

From a Polygon comment thread:

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C4oOlUaUoAAxP1N.jpg)

Discuss.

It's scary how effective propaganda and other psychological influence techniques are.
Roger Ailes. Q. E. D.

You would think at some point, rational people would start asking themselves "Are we the baddies?"

BadKen wrote:

It's scary how effective propaganda and other psychological influence techniques are.
Roger Ailes. Q. E. D.

You would think at some point, rational people would start asking themselves "Are we the baddies?"

I wouldn't actually... for two reasons:
1. They're taught to believe, during this process that the "baddies" are not who many would have had them believe before.
2. They're also left incapable of self-awareness and self-reflection as a result.

Gremlin wrote:

From a Polygon comment thread:

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C4oOlUaUoAAxP1N.jpg)

Discuss.

This is not an uncommon critique of Fight Club, though it doesn't address that it's not a tactic of just Nazis, but basically any cult, terrorist group, etc. Meaning, nothing new here.

(Fwiw, there's more to Fight Club than this angle though, specifically the anti-consumer stuff. This Guardian article hews close to my thinking.)

As far as the idea that gamers are socially reclusive feels like something that was hashed out during GG and the whole Gamers are Dead stuff. It's completely inaccurate in my eyes because everyone I know games to a certain extent, even my mother. And we're not all socially reclusive. Are there more social reclusives in gaming than in sports? Probably. At the same time, are there more social reclusive readers and writers? Emily Dickinson says hi. I don't think we're going around scared that people who read are ripe to be plucked off by Nazi ideology. I feel the same way about gamers. Yes, socially reclusive people are probably more likely to be gamers, but that's because gaming can be a socially reclusive hobby. As can model airplanes. Or painting.

The "desperate to belong" part, well, I'd say that's most people I know, more or less. As religion has faded more and more from our culture, we've replaced it with a whole plethora of other things that are less fulfilling than, say, belief in a savior, heaven and an afterlife. Then there's the loss of local community for a lot of people (ie. no one knows their neighbors).

This isn't to say that White Nationalism isn't having a resurgence right now. Something is happening, that much is clear, but the fear mongering of gamers feels like a continuation of myths about GG. GG was fringe with a vocal base that connected with some, but most it certainly did not connect with the vast majority. I feel the same way about White Nationalism. People may be listening more, but that's in part because of Trump's (unintended or not) megaphone. It will pass. We all may have to fight harder than we want, but it'll pass. Because it's not a winning formula. It just isn't. (See: GamerGate.)

Frankly, I think that a lot of people are waking up from the American Dream that was sold to them post-WW2. No, we're all not going to be significantly better off than our parents. We haven't been "winning" righteous wars. Life is grey, not red, white and blue. So, yeah, that's a place where people are going to get plucked off by White Nationalists who are using the internet and media to spread their message. But it's not the only message out there. Hell, even Trump isn't going after gay marriage (yet). That's gotta stand for something.

I also don't want to be overly reductive, but I think the economic downturn and large amounts of college debt are hugely influential in all of this, much like the economy was in Nazi Germany. Our lives take a little longer to get going than they did 50 years ago. A lot more of us are going to college and coming out to make not much more than if we had worked at retail and fast food places. Couple that with loan debt and you've got people staying at home longer and not "starting" their lives until later in their 20's. Used to be we all had kids by 25 and didn't have time for any of that alt-right crap, but now we've got people sitting at home with access to the internet, not terribly happy with how things have gone. I'm repeating a bit of Fight Club's message here, but I'm doing so because it explains the resonance. I also expect most people to grow out of it as their life progresses. Things aren't that bad in this country. We have it so good compared to so much of the rest of the world. There's a lot of chaos, sure, but maybe it's time we experienced some chaos so we can stop being so damn immature when it comes to crises.

I think I just advocated for tough love. Not sure how I feel about that.

Okay, enough brain dump from me. Sorry for the rambling nature. I want to say something like "fear is the mind killer" and then sing kumbaya, but I don't want to be even more overly pedantic than I feel like I'm being.

garion333 wrote:

Some good points

I do think there's a distinction between "people who play games" (nearly everyone) and the kind of "gamers" we're talking about. Ironically, that was exactly the point of the "Gamers are dead" articles, back in the day: that it wasn't really useful as a label for an identity: 'Gamers' don't have to be your audience. 'Gamers' are over.

So when I go on Twitter and see stuff like...

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C4yXYqFUEAEKJ7s.jpg)

...I tend to think that there's something to the idea that one specific gamer-culture group was targeted and recruited. If it makes it clearer, referring to them as "gamers" with scare quotes is closer to my view of them.

At the same time, a lot of the pickup artists, MRAs, and so on dispise videogames (and pornography, and so on) because it's a distraction from whatever they view as the Purpose of Real Men. (Note Milo's characterization of 'gamers' before they became his biggest fans.)

Though you are right that there are bigger factors, such as the economic and social conditions that have left a lot of people relatively isolated and economically precarious.

Bill Maher has invited Milo Yiannapolous to appear on Real Time. You know, to "debate" him. (They will more likely bond over their shared hate for Muslims and special snowflakes.) Whether or not Maher actually debates Milo, this will serve to signal boost Milo, along with all of his sh*tty opinions and targeted harassment.

Scheduled guest Jeremy Scahill has since decided not to attend.

https://www.facebook.com/jeremyscahi...

Gremlin wrote:

So when I go on Twitter and see stuff like...

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C4yXYqFUEAEKJ7s.jpg)

...I tend to think that there's something to the idea that one specific gamer-culture group was targeted and recruited. If it makes it clearer, referring to them as "gamers" with scare quotes is closer to my view of them.

Ugh. That's not just repugnant, it's also so sooooo dishonest.

There was no "push" for "Gamers Are Dead", whatever they think that means. The Second Myth of Gamergate was the completely fabricated story that a dozen different outlets all rushed to publish these "Gamers Are Dead" articles over the span of 24 hours. That was no more true than the First Myth of GG, that Zoe Quinn gave sex for reviews.

And even how the f*ck do you go from "We're not dead!" to "Death to Jews"? And how do you pretend this is something caused by outsiders rather than a conscious choice?

Because censorship! or something.

The censorship/free-speech meme was the link, I think, between the libertarian-every-speech-is-free, the 4chan-hatespeech-for-lulz, the gamers-are-oppressed-ethics-in-journalism, the SJWs-made-me-do-it, and the mess we've got now.

Spoiler:

It may be useful to spell out all of the signifiers on that account:
- An avatar with an Anime character (Specifically, Tiffany from HuniePop)
- Wearing a MAGA hat
- Twitter handle that references HuniePop, the pornographic puzzle game
- Twitter name that references "Heartiste", the ur-pickup-artist-blogger that the rest of the PUA bloggers have tried to emulate.

So that person is deliberately positioning themselves as members of several overlapping alt-right groups.

At the same time, that lack of self-awareness and lack of the fact that other people have as much a right to exist and be and enjoy things as you do is f*cking horrifying.

OMG, a girl suggested that video games should be made and marketed for all groups, not just my group exclusively... such outrage... somehow leads you to believe a different group of people literally doesn't deserve to live because of their religious/ethnic beliefs?

And you think that was a logical transition you made there? Really? Oh wait, that's right, you literally never read the Gamers Are Dead articles to understand what they were about and probably still, to this day, think they were suggesting you needed to die. *facepalm*

Gremlin wrote:

I do think there's a distinction between "people who play games" (nearly everyone) and the kind of "gamers" we're talking about. Ironically, that was exactly the point of the "Gamers are dead" articles, back in the day: that it wasn't really useful as a label for an identity: 'Gamers' don't have to be your audience. 'Gamers' are over.

So when I go on Twitter and see stuff like...

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C4yXYqFUEAEKJ7s.jpg)

...I tend to think that there's something to the idea that one specific gamer-culture group was targeted and recruited. If it makes it clearer, referring to them as "gamers" with scare quotes is closer to my view of them.

I wonder if part of the reason they were targeted is because of how completely the response to GG sh*t the bed. Did the "Gamers are dead" articles go nearly as far as GG said they did? No. However, they didn't just stop at pointing out that the label wasn't useful.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if hate groups saw a sub-culture where there wasn't just self-criticism but a vicious internal fight over whether the sub-culture had any value in the first place, and thought that this was an identity ripe for recruitment.

I imagine there it was more an organic development rather than a planned campaign, based on what I've read of the former Stormfront kid and the like. But yeah, they were ripe for recruitment by somebody.

---

PewDiePie Isn’t A Monster; He’s Someone You Know: The schadenfreude over YouTube star Felix Kjellberg’s sudden fall from grace overlooks a much bigger, more insidious pattern of young men testing boundaries in the angriest corners of the internet.

The online alt-right is built on lulz, and on an insulated privilege enjoyed by people without any personal context for or historical understanding of the things their privilege lets them say. Rewriting Felix Kjellberg’s history to make him a monster — pulled along by the gravity of recent high-impact cautionary tales like those of Milo Yiannopolous and Richard Spencer — is investigative laziness that obscures a much more important fact: that “edgelords,” the boys and men who group together online for the explicit proliferation of hate speech and misogyny, will almost inevitably keep pushing the line until they end up in a truly dark place.

Because PewDiePie’s relationship to his following, like that of Milo to his own fans, is both a reciprocal system of validation and a male personality cult, we don’t diagnose it as anything out of the ordinary: We take it at face value, because “men are men.” We can demonize “them” (the ones who go too far) as an idea, continue to ignore them in reality, and then act shocked when their need for attention finally intersects with their ability to make themselves heard.

---

4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump: Trump’s younger supporters know he’s an incompetent joke; in fact, that’s why they support him.

As someone who has witnessed 4chan grow from a group of adolescent boys who could fit into a single room at my local anime convention to a worldwide coalition of right wing extremists (which is still somehow also a message board about anime), I feel I have some obligation to explain.

This essay is an attempt to untangle the threads of 4chan and the far right.

In a previous essay about contemporary counter-culture, I mentioned Barbara Ehrenreich’s The Hearts of Men, a feminist critique that discusses how gender roles bind and control men. Ehrenreich writes about how, in post-war hyper-capitalist 1950s America (the baseline America to which both Trump and Hillary harken back) a new role was invented for men. A man’s wage and his Playboy “bachelor pad” linked his earning potential to his role as a ladies man. This replaced a previous, more conservative ideology in which your earning potential meant you were able to support a wife and children. These two schemes, Ehrenreich maintained, are still the dominant ideas that control men’s behavior in the U.S.
As both Sanders and the philosopher Slavoj Zizek noted after Sanders lost the primaries, left and right are in some sense outdated ideas. The new division in politics is those who favor the current global hegemony and those who are against it. Like the Hollywood heroes, right and left have been competing to become this new radical anti-status quo party. And so far, in both Europe and America, the right has won, implying that, as Arendt predicted, the powerlessness created by bourgeoisie systems of capitalist exploitation might once again implode into far right totalitarianism.
cheeze_pavilion wrote:
Gremlin wrote:

I do think there's a distinction between "people who play games" (nearly everyone) and the kind of "gamers" we're talking about. Ironically, that was exactly the point of the "Gamers are dead" articles, back in the day: that it wasn't really useful as a label for an identity: 'Gamers' don't have to be your audience. 'Gamers' are over.

So when I go on Twitter and see stuff like...

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C4yXYqFUEAEKJ7s.jpg)

...I tend to think that there's something to the idea that one specific gamer-culture group was targeted and recruited. If it makes it clearer, referring to them as "gamers" with scare quotes is closer to my view of them.

I wonder if part of the reason they were targeted is because of how completely the response to GG sh*t the bed. Did the "Gamers are dead" articles go nearly as far as GG said they did? No. However, they didn't just stop at pointing out that the label wasn't useful.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if hate groups saw a sub-culture where there wasn't just self-criticism but a vicious internal fight over whether the sub-culture had any value in the first place, and thought that this was an identity ripe for recruitment.

Leigh Alexander's article was very angry in tone because she was witnessing the targeted harassment of a friend. (It still managed to be less offensive than Milo's previous article on gamers.) I don't know what other articles you're referring to.

Gremlin wrote:

---

4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump: Trump’s younger supporters know he’s an incompetent joke; in fact, that’s why they support him.

As someone who has witnessed 4chan grow from a group of adolescent boys who could fit into a single room at my local anime convention to a worldwide coalition of right wing extremists (which is still somehow also a message board about anime), I feel I have some obligation to explain.

This essay is an attempt to untangle the threads of 4chan and the far right.

In a previous essay about contemporary counter-culture, I mentioned Barbara Ehrenreich’s The Hearts of Men, a feminist critique that discusses how gender roles bind and control men. Ehrenreich writes about how, in post-war hyper-capitalist 1950s America (the baseline America to which both Trump and Hillary harken back) a new role was invented for men. A man’s wage and his Playboy “bachelor pad” linked his earning potential to his role as a ladies man. This replaced a previous, more conservative ideology in which your earning potential meant you were able to support a wife and children. These two schemes, Ehrenreich maintained, are still the dominant ideas that control men’s behavior in the U.S.
As both Sanders and the philosopher Slavoj Zizek noted after Sanders lost the primaries, left and right are in some sense outdated ideas. The new division in politics is those who favor the current global hegemony and those who are against it. Like the Hollywood heroes, right and left have been competing to become this new radical anti-status quo party. And so far, in both Europe and America, the right has won, implying that, as Arendt predicted, the powerlessness created by bourgeoisie systems of capitalist exploitation might once again implode into far right totalitarianism.

Wow, that was really good. Author gets a follow from me on Twitter now.

garion333 wrote:
Gremlin wrote:

---

4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump: Trump’s younger supporters know he’s an incompetent joke; in fact, that’s why they support him.

As someone who has witnessed 4chan grow from a group of adolescent boys who could fit into a single room at my local anime convention to a worldwide coalition of right wing extremists (which is still somehow also a message board about anime), I feel I have some obligation to explain.

This essay is an attempt to untangle the threads of 4chan and the far right.

In a previous essay about contemporary counter-culture, I mentioned Barbara Ehrenreich’s The Hearts of Men, a feminist critique that discusses how gender roles bind and control men. Ehrenreich writes about how, in post-war hyper-capitalist 1950s America (the baseline America to which both Trump and Hillary harken back) a new role was invented for men. A man’s wage and his Playboy “bachelor pad” linked his earning potential to his role as a ladies man. This replaced a previous, more conservative ideology in which your earning potential meant you were able to support a wife and children. These two schemes, Ehrenreich maintained, are still the dominant ideas that control men’s behavior in the U.S.
As both Sanders and the philosopher Slavoj Zizek noted after Sanders lost the primaries, left and right are in some sense outdated ideas. The new division in politics is those who favor the current global hegemony and those who are against it. Like the Hollywood heroes, right and left have been competing to become this new radical anti-status quo party. And so far, in both Europe and America, the right has won, implying that, as Arendt predicted, the powerlessness created by bourgeoisie systems of capitalist exploitation might once again implode into far right totalitarianism.

Wow, that was really good. Author gets a follow from me on Twitter now.

Can you link their Twitter account? Need to do the same... not seeing it there, probably missing something obvious.

My reaction is a little more nuanced though. It's an awesome piece... it's also terrifying because I'm realizing I probably came about "this" close to being a Nazi. I was certainly that disaffected young man. Hell, I'm kind of that disaffected older man now, post-divorce. I feel very alone and powerless with some frequency... and yet, my inner self has been resistant to hurting others since my very early days when I used to bully my sister in response to my own bullying at school... then later realizing how bad that was and how I didn't want to be what I hated in others.

A bit of self-awareness might be the only reason I'm not one of those sh*theads right now... jesus, that's terrifying as sh*t.

I found his twitter the old fashioned way: I googled him.

edit: wrong thread

Demosthenes wrote:

My reaction is a little more nuanced though. It's an awesome piece... it's also terrifying because I'm realizing I probably came about "this" close to being a Nazi. I was certainly that disaffected young man. Hell, I'm kind of that disaffected older man now, post-divorce. I feel very alone and powerless with some frequency... and yet, my inner self has been resistant to hurting others since my very early days when I used to bully my sister in response to my own bullying at school... then later realizing how bad that was and how I didn't want to be what I hated in others.

I had this same thought about myself the other day.

Demosthenes wrote:

Can you link their Twitter account? Need to do the same... not seeing it there, probably missing something obvious.

My reaction is a little more nuanced though. It's an awesome piece... it's also terrifying because I'm realizing I probably came about "this" close to being a Nazi. I was certainly that disaffected young man. Hell, I'm kind of that disaffected older man now, post-divorce. I feel very alone and powerless with some frequency... and yet, my inner self has been resistant to hurting others since my very early days when I used to bully my sister in response to my own bullying at school... then later realizing how bad that was and how I didn't want to be what I hated in others.

A bit of self-awareness might be the only reason I'm not one of those sh*theads right now... jesus, that's terrifying as sh*t.

If I hadn't gone into paganism when I had regular internet access in my twenties I could easily have fallen into MRA circles. Don't think I'd have gone full Nazi, I had a pretty diverse group of friends, but it's impossible to say for sure.

NathanialG wrote:
Demosthenes wrote:

My reaction is a little more nuanced though. It's an awesome piece... it's also terrifying because I'm realizing I probably came about "this" close to being a Nazi. I was certainly that disaffected young man. Hell, I'm kind of that disaffected older man now, post-divorce. I feel very alone and powerless with some frequency... and yet, my inner self has been resistant to hurting others since my very early days when I used to bully my sister in response to my own bullying at school... then later realizing how bad that was and how I didn't want to be what I hated in others.

I had this same thought about myself the other day.

*raises hand*

I never paid for forum access to Something Awful, but I did read it occasionally for the memes. Luckily I found GWJ around the same time and was saved!

I was a regular at Something Awful forums until it went behind a paywall. But during that time it was never as bad as 4chan/8chan.

And it blessed the world with the ALL YOUR BASE meme.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

If I hadn't gone into paganism when I had regular internet access in my twenties I could easily have fallen into MRA circles. Don't think I'd have gone full Nazi, I had a pretty diverse group of friends, but it's impossible to say for sure.

I had my own brush with MRA circles. Thankfully, I didn't buy into it. Partially because most of the solutions they were pushing contradicted the support I did have, and partially because I have some great friends, but I got close enough to feel the raw need that drove it.

I keep thinking that the War Boys from Fury Road are a good parallel example.

When I was an impressionable teen I got into ska and punk (mostly of the anti-authoritarianism variety as opposed to the entitled pop-punk stuff), I'd say they were pretty good at inoculating me against neo-nazis.

Gremlin wrote:

Discuss.

No.

(not that I hate the topic, but I loathe that virtual tone of voice.)

Malor wrote:
Gremlin wrote:

Discuss.

No.

(not that I hate the topic, but I loathe that virtual tone of voice.)

And "no" is better?

garion333 wrote:
Malor wrote:
Gremlin wrote:

Discuss.

No.

(not that I hate the topic, but I loathe that virtual tone of voice.)

And "no" is better?

No.

Stengah wrote:
garion333 wrote:
Malor wrote:
Gremlin wrote:

Discuss.

No.

(not that I hate the topic, but I loathe that virtual tone of voice.)

And "no" is better?

No.

IMAGE(http://www.quickmeme.com/img/72/72f40b02cc54254d96a3c797eca45a2743867b71404eb316591a4ee1a96a50f7.jpg)

Stengah wrote:

When I was an impressionable teen I got into ska and punk (mostly of the anti-authoritarianism variety as opposed to the entitled pop-punk stuff), I'd say they were pretty good at inoculating me against neo-nazis.

This. It was an excellent vaccine when I later had a roommate who wanted to start his own Fight Club.