The Agony and the Ecstasy of Being Hated On The Internet
October 18, 2019 6:12 PM   Subscribe

 
"So there's an alt-right mob after me, what do I do?"
posted by The Whelk at 6:57 PM on October 18, 2019


I can't believe she ended up literally in an institution at one point. Well, I can, I guess, but I never heard it went THAT far.

On a related trauma harassment note, Monica Lewinsky on Armchair Expert. At one point Dax said something about, I forget how he said it, that he thought she'd recovered, and she is immediately all, "I'm still broken."
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:39 PM on October 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


And then she mentions that as long as it didn't hit the mainstream media and she didn't talk and she didn't stand up for herself because "it becomes part of your brand."

Goddamn.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:45 PM on October 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


Lindsay's only suggestions of what helped were drugs and others standing up for her, but then they take risks themselves.

And another related note link: "Thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m ok."
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:00 PM on October 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


I really hope we come up with better solutions. It's crazy that just social media empowers a few hate filled people to bully others to the point of being institutionalized, without consequence. What a time to be alive indeed.
:(
posted by Popular Ethics at 11:56 PM on October 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


I was watching this video last night. Then I came to MetaFilter, and saw this FPP.

XOXO (which appears to be some kind of convention for Internet-Famous People) has a number of interesting talks from internet "creators", often of a left-ish persuasion. I've enjoyed Caitlin Doughty (Ask a Mortician), Harry Brewis (hbomberguy), and Natalie Wynn (Contrapoints).
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:11 AM on October 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


It's crazy that just social media empowers a few hate filled people to bully others to the point of being institutionalized, without consequence.

Oh, that happened before the days of social media, my friend.

I wasn't institutionalized, but I was indeed one such bullied person, and the wounds are still there and the bullies suffered no fucking consequence at all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:52 AM on October 19, 2019 [13 favorites]


I was struck by how much this topic is clearly unnerving for her. She's extremely nervous in this talk, and maybe she doesn't do as well at public speaking as she does in polished video essays, but it seemed more related to the subject matter. And as much as she's being asked for advice on how to handle online harassment, the reality is she's not sure how and she's not pretending otherwise.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:09 AM on October 19, 2019 [6 favorites]


XOXO (which appears to be some kind of convention for Internet-Famous People) has a number of interesting talks from internet "creators", often of a left-ish persuasion.

XOXO was co-founded by Mefi's own waxpancake.
posted by octothorpe at 6:26 AM on October 19, 2019 [14 favorites]


Wow, I feel bad for not knowing about this, and not doing anything about it.

Can't we sue twitter for negligence of its own policies and contracts? I imagine this has been discussed before.

Also, thank you, fellow metafilterians, for being so pleasant.
posted by eustatic at 8:36 AM on October 19, 2019


See also: every authoritarian government. THIS is the implicit threat every time you say something disagreeable to the authoritarian narrative. If the implicit threat doesn't work, they unleash trolls, and if trolls don't work, they target your family, finances, and life. They manage most people through escalating levels of dread. If THOSE don't work, they put you in jail, torture you, kill you, do all the horrible physical things to you.

Lindsay Ellis is literally an expert in how to save democracy. Listen to her.
posted by saysthis at 11:34 AM on October 19, 2019 [14 favorites]


I'm impressed she could get up and talk about those experiences in front of a crowd for half an hour. That cannot have been easy... you can hear in her voice that she's fighting pretty hard to stay in front of it until she gets to the end.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 11:46 AM on October 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


"we are living at a time when bad faith actors are feeling very empowered"
posted by Obscure Reference at 1:01 PM on October 19, 2019


I seem to remember MF posts specifically about resources for people who are being targeted by alt-right harassment mobs, and now I can't find them. Anyone remember this? Am I losing my mind?
posted by schadenfrau at 1:55 PM on October 19, 2019


I love Lindsay Ellis, and am sorry that she, like so many of us who are not cis straight white men, has had to deal with mobs of bigots aiming to destroy her on social media. It seems really clear to me in this video that she is not only still very traumatized, but is still working out how to cope with her encounters with these mobs.

I feel like this video was helpful in giving viewers an opportunity to witness the intensity of the trauma these sustained hateful attacks cause. You can see how Lindsay Ellis is not her usual YouTube-commentator self (confident, witty, incisive), and is instead wound up, frightened, anxious, perseverating. We need everyone to see how deeply people are impacted by social media violence.

As an advice video, though, I'm afraid it wasn't very helpful. Partly that seems due to her still being in the midst of the trauma and fear, though emerging from it enough to finally speak about it publicly. The main advice she gives is not to let your fans or professional contacts know about the mob attack, because "being a victim will become your brand," instead of whatever content you were known for before, and because people inevitably engage in victim-blaming which will be hurtful to you, and because they will withdraw from you to avoid drawing any attention from the mob to themselves. But (1) she notes that this leaves you very isolated, and (2) she's contradicting that advice by giving this talk.

Not talking about the ways you are suffering harm or facing difficult challenges is a form of closeting. Sometimes being in the closet and passing as someone breezing through life "normally" is necessary, because if you come out, you'll lose your job, your safety, your friends, and the consequences are more than you can bear. Hiding in the closet can save your life.

But a major downside of protecting yourself by closeting is that it doesn't help others. That's why LGBTQIA+ movements have all focused on coming out of the closet. That's how people are able to find others like themselves and build community. That's how unaffected people get to realize that people they care about are affected. That's how scared and isolated people see that there are people they admire who are dealing with the same issue, who can be role models for them.

I expect that's exactly why Lindsay Ellis did this talk: to show that hateful internet mobs attack innocent people that viewers know and admire, as well as offer advice to others currently facing such attacks. I'm glad she's doing that--I know it isn't easy!

The thing is--probably, as I said, because she's still figuring out how to cope with mobbing and the trauma it has caused her--the actual advice she gives isn't particularly helpful. Basically, its "closet yourself, and hope that people with more celebrity than yourself invite your social media followers to post positive things about you, rather than mentioning the attack." And not only is closeting a survival strategy rather than a tool to change things, it simply isn't a tactic available to so many people.

Lindsay Ellis was able to hide that this mobbing was going on because she is a white media critic famous for posting YouTube videos about Transformers movies, while the mob attack framed her as an advocate of white genocide at PBS. While that attack caused her deep trauma, it really was tangential as these blows go. She didn't work at PBS. She's white, so the white-genocide-advocate framework wasn't convincing. And it had nothing to do with her actual "brand," which is talking about movies and television shows. So, having the privilege to be able to have staff moderate her YouTube comments and delete posts by mobbers, she could keep her patrons and YouTube fans and potential employers from seeing she was being victimized.

But that's not usually how this story goes. Usually, when racist, misogynist, transphobic, etc. mobs attack, they attack people because of their being people of color who fight racism, or feminists who fight misogyny, or trans people who fight transphobia, as their "brand." Those attacked can't just ignore the attacks to talk about their "real work," when their work is exactly what is being attacked. And usually, doxxing identifies the victim's actual employer, aiming all the calls to fire the person to where they actually reach their target. Nor do many of us have staff who can take on the work of moderating our social media threads for us when they are under seige, or nontraumatized friends willing to take on this horrendous job for free, as Lindsay Ellis suggests as an alternative.

So, the "cloistering" Lindsay Ellis advocates here is just not an option for most victims of hate mobs. I want to be totally clear that I don't say this to attack her, or suggest she be cancelled for not seeing her own privileges. I say this just to identify a problem with her generalizing the strategy she adopted to try to cope with a virtual assault, because it's not one often available, and it's an individual mechanism rather than a tool that fosters change.

Anyway, thanks for posting, I appreciated seeing the video. Hugs to every one of us who has dealt with this sh*t.
posted by DrMew at 4:21 PM on October 19, 2019 [11 favorites]


It’s exponentially easier to come out of the closet when you have a community of mutually supportive people like you to join. A network of support for people who are harassment targets would be a great thing. I don’t know how you’d build it.
posted by schadenfrau at 5:43 PM on October 19, 2019


I think in a way the things that seem like advice in her talk are less prescriptive and more descriptive. Like, if you do this, this will happen. If you do this other thing, this other thing happens. As an example, if you come out fighting, that becomes part of your brand. And then she says later, if Hank Green crowdsources some feel-good google-bombing for you, this helps. It's not like a lot of us can follow that advice, it's more descriptive of what happened. Maybe the lesson there is, if you see someone being attacked, be like Hank Green, and find oblique ways to support the victim.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:40 PM on October 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


I was struck by how much this topic is clearly unnerving for her. She's extremely nervous in this talk, and maybe she doesn't do as well at public speaking as she does in polished video essays, but it seemed more related to the subject matter. And as much as she's being asked for advice on how to handle online harassment, the reality is she's not sure how and she's not pretending otherwise.

Yeah. This. I think the big part she's talking around is giving up Twitter. Which absolutely sucks, but I had to do that too for my own mental health. I simply cannot do it. It is nothing but harassment of this kind for any woman who steps out into a spotlight in the slightest way.
posted by odinsdream at 6:59 PM on October 19, 2019 [4 favorites]


I only recently discovered Lindsay Ellis. She's great and I love her videos. The alt-right trolls won't be happy until everything good is destroyed, let's make sure they stay as miserable as they want everyone else to be.
posted by biogeo at 7:30 PM on October 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Absolutely fascinating, heart-rending talk. Her description of the, well, tactical landscape: spot on. Thank you for posting this, wabbittwax.

do it anyway
posted by runehog at 1:19 PM on October 20, 2019


On my friend, Natalie.
posted by um at 5:00 PM on October 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


As much as I appreciated her willingness to talk about her trauma (despite her evident trauma), there are resources available. Not a lot, but Crash Override was set up by Zoe Quinn, who was Gam###grable's first target. Sadly, they don't have the bandwidth to provide individualized assistance, but they do have some resources available.

We do need more support, though. Things like Twitter cancelling the nazis and bots would go a long way to help.
posted by suelac at 8:20 PM on October 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


> I was struck by how much this topic is clearly unnerving for her. She's extremely nervous in this talk, and maybe she doesn't do as well at public speaking as she does in polished video essays, but it seemed more related to the subject matter. And as much as she's being asked for advice on how to handle online harassment, the reality is she's not sure how and she's not pretending otherwise.

She's clearly editing herself in realtime, all through the talk. She's a super-articulate media person, a professional who usually doesn't need to write her talks in advance, but for something like this she would have benefited from a sit-down edit of a text she could feel safe reading through.
posted by kandinski at 11:38 PM on October 20, 2019


Having finished the video, she seems to be reading at the end, but not at the begining.

I never knew it was this hard for her. I love her videos but, even if I didn't, nobody deserves this kind of shit.
posted by kandinski at 12:37 AM on October 21, 2019


Because Lindsay Ellis would like to be remembered for the good things she did, and not for the mess other imposed on her, this great video of hers:

Manufacturing Authenticity (For Fun and Profit)
posted by kandinski at 1:26 AM on October 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


The thing is--probably, as I said, because she's still figuring out how to cope with mobbing and the trauma it has caused her--the actual advice she gives isn't particularly helpful.

I'm assuming XOXO wanted an advice talk, but I don't think she was really able to give it, because she's still in the middle of hell, and as she listed, almost everything reasonable and logical she did try did not work to make things less awful. Drugs, not defending herself and having John Green stand up for her were the only things she could cite. Which may not be feasible for all, obviously. But at this point, almost nothing seems to make this kind of situation better. I don't know why Lindsay didn't mention Crash Override and/or work with those folks (if possible?) so I can't say there, but... she can't advise you either because nothing much is working for her.

I guess the only thing to do is to not speak up and not be noticed on Twitter in the first place. If they don't see you, they won't target you...one hopes.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:08 AM on October 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


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