A brief note on internet harassment

September 14, 2014 in #opinion #gaming #social media #online culture

There are people out there with a lot of hate to share for those who voice opinions outside their particular world view, and who (rather than engaging in sensible debate) will spout abuse, impersonate their target to defame them, publish their address online and send them death threats. If their victim has the temerity to call them out on it, they’re accused of “attention seeking” or “making it all up” even when proof is provided of what's happening.

All it takes is a couple of people to post accusations (of varying accuracy) on certain platforms and it's 'open season', where others pile on and escalate the situation to the point SWAT teams are called to their homes, people quit their job or social media, and some even end up fleeing their homes in fear of their safety.

You may be thinking from the above that the views that are triggering this kind of "mob justice" reaction are extreme. But in most cases the only thing these people have done to merit such a harsh sanction from certain segments of the internet is something as trivial as beating someone at or criticising a video game.

While it’s great people feel passionate about the games they play and causes they believe in (there are some legitimate points around writers declaring their interests), what seems to get forgotten is that people at the other end of the phone line tapping away at their keyboard are thinking, feeling human beings who want to be treated with dignity and respect. These actions aren't about "making a point", they amount to a hate campaign.

Games and social media are meant to be a fun diversion from the mundane aspects of reality, not something taken so seriously it has people fearing for their lives!

How do we combat a problem like this?

Call out and condemn this behaviour publicly when you see it. No one is stopping you from disagreeing with or discussing other peoples' views, but we all need to remember to be respectful and work together as a community to stamp out this dangerous behaviour before something truly awful happens.

Share on Diaspora*