A new piece of mine just went live on the fabulous website The Ontological Geek, which publishes philosophical explorations of video games, pop culture, and the Internet. The piece focuses on the recent doxxing of the anti-feminist pick up artist Roosh V and the dangers of using troll tactics to advance progressive ideals.
If users make it unprofitable for platforms to allow the game of trolling to continue in their backyard, then we can make those platforms more inclusive. And yet, if we register our displeasure via boycotts and refusals to engage with a service as it develops, we allow producers to believe that “people like us” (whatever that may mean: women? minority groups? anyone who doesn’t enjoy a social media experience that resembles the Wild West?) aren’t worth catering to in the first place, a position that is already ideologically tempting enough in certain bro-centric circles in Silicon Valley.
Instead, those of us invested in creating a better web most continue to provide feedback to platform creators, work at crowdsourcing effective community norms and give developers something concrete that they can take to their investors to serve as evidence of the financial incentives attached to inclusivity. We need to make it clear that we have always been a part of these spaces, that our contributions to the development of these communities are integral to their continued success, and that we will not passively accept their descent into social chaos. Social media platforms are obsessed with gathering user data and monetizing it. so let’s give them lots and lots of data to chew on. Let’s make it clear that the trolls are bad for business rather than stooping down to their level.
After all, the only way to truly win the game of trolls is not to play.