You may remember hearing of the brutal online harassment that forced Kathy Sierra, programming instructor and game developer, offline and into hiding.
As I read and re-read The Verge article ‘The end of kindness: weev and the cult of the angry young man’ by Greg Sandoval, I was shocked at some of the stories and the even more horrified that there were troves of online supporters for such things. As Kathy mentioned “His [internet troll weev] rise as a folk hero is a sign of how desensitized to the abuse of women online people have become.” In another quote from the VERGE article Kathy goes on to say that : “What happened to me pales in comparison to what’s happening to women online today,” Sierra said. “I thought things would get better. Mostly, it’s just gotten worse.”
I understand even more than ever why Redhead Writing (and probably many more amazing women) have decided to turn off comment notifications on her Youtube channel.
What is it about YouTube comments that sets loose the inner fucktard in people?
— Erika Napoletano (@RedheadWriting) May 14, 2013
Read more about Ericka’s thoughts in : A Discourse on Growing Pains With YouTube Videos
But it’s not just Twitter, You Tube or blog comments where women are attacked. As our online world grows, there are more and more platforms that an online bully or troll can literally put our lives in danger.
Update: *cough* LinkedIn. I wonder how many people have been harmed after asking for help and protection from stalkers only to be told “Newsflash, people: YOU ARE NOT THAT IMPORTANT.” Yes, someone actually said this. (see Victoria Ipri’s comment left on Feb 21 at 05:24 PM)
Overall, I think this quote from Greg sums it up :
“The internet experience is being degraded by those bent on settling scores, intimidating enemies, or simply silencing those with whom they disagree. The social networks say they’re powerless to stop it. Police say they’re overwhelmed. For these reasons, many people find the web a hostile and dangerous environment.”
As Anita Sarkeesian said at TEDxWomen 2012 “this is NOT a game.”
So my question to you is . . . how do we stop this harassment without compromising our online freedoms?
Have you experienced online harassment? How have you dealt with it?
How are you monitoring and educating your children about online bullying?