Recently, I finished 2+ weeks of amazing conference experiences. It started with the XOXO Festival in Portland, OR, which I attended for the first time this year. And then a few days later I sailed off for my fourth stint on the Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat Cruise. Having these back to back gave me more insights into a thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately: the value of communities; how we need both large ones and micro communities; how the two types serve different but necessary purposes; and how to foster the best parts of both. Recent events also have me thinking about where communities and friend groups fall down, why that happens, and who tends to feel the impact of it the most.
Ride or Die
On the second Conference day at XOXO YouTube star and insightful film critic Lindsay Ellis delivered her talk on how she dealt with being attacked by an online mob of Nazis over a year-old, snarky tweet. The incident is summarized well over on Wired1 and I’ll embed the talk itself once it goes online. The bottom line is that hundreds or thousands of neo-Nazis and GamerGaters and similar ilk coordinated an attack on her designed to make her lose her job and fear for her safety. She did not lose her job, but the emotional impact was huge.
And the worst part was that most of her friends did not speak up for her on Twitter and other public online spaces because they knew the attackers would go after anyone who interacted with Lindsay in a positive way. There was one big exception: Hank Green. He tweeted: “This is a Lindsay Ellis appreciation post” which then brought hundreds of positive messages into her mentions. Hank also responded to some of the big names who shared the disingenuous, attacking tweets and posts about her in an attempt to make them understand the real situation. It didn’t always work, but he did that thing.
Lindsay stated that this was the first time in her life as a professional online personage that someone who was higher than her in the power structure–be it in a workplace sense or a social power sense–had stood up for her in this way.
That shocked me. Because I know Lindsay knows many, many of the high profile geeks and online celebs that run in those circles. Many of them are cis-het white dudes; i.e. people with privilege and some measure of protection from these kind of attackers. But Hank Green is, apparently, the only one who stepped up.
- About halfway down the article. You can search for ‘white genocide’ to find it. [↩]