Many critics of the consumer revolt known as GamerGate continue with their main criticism about its supposed increased level of harassment. This is an issue, but it is an issue everyone on the Internet experiences and not unique to GamerGate. I do also feel compelled to remind everyone that GamerGate is a reaction to corruption in the gaming industry, particularly game journalism.
In a rebuttal to Audrey Watters’ “Yes, #Gamergate is an Ed-Tech Issue,” I’d like to assert that 1) GamerGate is not misogynistic, 2) harassment online did not suddenly spring up, or become an issue, with GamerGate, and 3) that this is not an ed-tech issue, but an Internet/Social Media issue.
Watters first addresses the harassment and threats leveled at Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu. It is misleading to bring up those two incidents and not mention the myriad others that have happened since GamerGate began, especially when leaving out those that are sympathetic to the movement.
Many prominent Internet members have been harassed, some men, some women. The following is a list of just a few examples:
This has happened with prominent YouTuber Boogie2988 who had his personal information revealed online (doxxed) and had his wife threatened with bodily harm.
Milo Yiannopolous has been doxxed and sent a syringe in the mail.
KingofPol, a vocal pro-GamerGate critic, was doxxed and was sent a knife in the mail with a note that read “PLEASE KILL YOURSELF.”
It’s also worth mentioning that a couple of writers here at TechRaptor were also doxxed multiple times.
It’s disheartening how much longer this list could be.
The major takeaway should be that the harassment issue within GamerGate is not based on sex. Instead, it stems from actions, engagement with the community, and presence on Social Media.
The two examples Watters’ brought up of Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu, as well as a few examples I listed here, seemed to have forgotten a cardinal rule of the Internet – don’t feed the trolls. Giving attention to their actions only encourages them and draws more trolls to the cause.
Watters “insists” that GamerGate is an ed-tech issue because Sarkeesian is an educator, and that ed-tech publications have been largely quiet on the issue. She also says it is an ed-tech issue because GamerGate deals directly with the way that we should conduct ourselves online, which she argues the advice for women minimizes their experiences with harassment. That advice being, “don’t read the comments” or ignore the harassers.
Watters implies that ed-tech publications are somehow marginalizing the experiences of harassment women have, which needlessly makes this a gender issue.
This is an Internet issue that has affected just about everyone that has interacted with a community online. The advice to which is the same everywhere, including publications: don’t feed the trolls. Don’t engage or acknowledge harassers.
If you read the organization known as Working to Halt Online Abuse’s website, it says to contact authorities if there is a significant threat, otherwise ignore the harasser.
Nowhere does it discriminate between men and women. Similar advice can be found all over the Internet from a wide variety of organizations.
In a somewhat similar claim, Watters says that the technology industry is plagued by “the culture of meritocracy misogyny.” I am not certain what that means, but it seems to imply that women are held to a higher standard than men, and/or women’s merits do not count for as much as men’s.
If that is what she means, then I would argue that is false.
Far more men are interested and involved in the technology industry and pursue degrees in things like Computer Science than women. Does it not make sense then that there are more men in the industry? Todd Wohling goes into more detail on this if you are interested.
Gamergate isn’t an issue to separate the sexes on. GamerGate is an example of all the terrible things about Social Media coming together at once bursting now like a bubble, the contents and splashback of which have been under intense scrutiny now for more than two months.
The harassment issue within GamerGate is just an example of the general harassment one finds on the Internet and Social Media, on sites like Twitter, Tumblr, and Reddit.
Social Media has made it extremely easy to threaten someone without having any consequences. On most Social Media sites, anyone can create an anonymous account then threaten anybody they want. The account may be removed, but the threats have still occurred. And in most cases, nobody will know who issued the threat at all.
This isn’t new and is directly related to GamerGate’s harassment issue. Trolls and harassment is a widespread and accepted (in that it happens regularly) issue on the Internet.
Reddit, for example, has created what they call “reddiquette” in an attempt to mitigate the harassment caused by Social Media.
In tandem with anonymity is the emphasis on connectivity. The expectation to engage with fans/followers leads to more opportunities of harassment, and the increased presence on the Internet makes someone a bigger target as well.
The advice for everyone will forever remain the same though: don’t engage and don’t give attention to attackers and harassers – don’t feed the trolls. Report to the proper authorities when something significant arises.
So no, this is not an ed-tech issue, but a symptom of the Internet as a whole and more specifically of Social Media. Harassment has unfortunately become part of Internet culture and it is only because of GamerGate’s intense scrutiny harassment has been attached to it.
TechRaptor’s Georgina Young also had a response to Watters’ piece, which was published on The Open Standard. If you Google “Georgina Young The Open Standard” you will find it. For some reason linking from TechRaptor leads to a 404’d page.