Wil Wheaton has given the world the following post “regarding blocklists, trolls, twitter’s systemic inaction against abuse, and the responsibility of wielding great power,” and we’re bringing it to your attention not because it’s by Wil Wheaton (!!!) but because Mr. W. is as correct as he can possibly be (and so very often is) about something that affects all of us who read, write, or otherwise deport ourselves on these interwebs:
by Wil Wheaton
Jesus what a day.
Apparently, a couple of exceptionally popular YouTube creators were talking on Twitter about being blocked by me. Their fans grabbed their jump to conclusions mats, torches and pitchforks in hand, and went on a rampage through my mentions.
So I guess it’s time for the obligatory blog post that I don’t want to write but need to write, about how I use social media.
First off: I think I know what happened in this case. A couple months (or maybe it was weeks; in 2018, hours can feel like days) ago, a toxic YouTube personality with a large and unsurprisingly toxic following just went after me one day, without provocation. Over the years, people have tried to create the illusion of a feud with me, in an effort to get my attention and grab some free publicity to drive up views and subscriptions. I always ignore these things, because they are childish at best, and they invite a kind of negativity and vitriol that I would prefer not to have in my life. (As a side note, if someone claiming to be a social media expert pitches the fake feud idea to you, fire them and burn their contact information to the ground. That person is an idiot.)
Anyway. This person already had a following that eclipsed mine by several a factor of at least ten, so they weren’t going to gain anything if I gave them the attention they were looking for. It honestly felt like a young person who was feeling powerful and wanted to use the power of their following to make my life miserable, to entertain the shitty people who follow them. In my efforts to be empathetic to this person, I will freely admit that, when I was in my teens or early twenties, I probably would have thought that what they were doing was harmless, and that the person who was being attacked and dogpiled probably deserved it for some reason, and that they shouldn’t take everything so seriously. Thankfully, I grew up and out of that mentality.
So awhile ago, when this person turned my Twitter mentions into a goddamn Nazi rally, I did a little work to track down patient zero. I found this person, blocked their account, and then blocked their followers, so they would lose one of their attack vectors. I freely accept that a lot of innocent people were caught up in this massive blocking, and many of them are YouTube personalities (because it appears that, at some point, an explicit or implicit agreement was made among YouTubers that a lot of them would follow each other on social media. I wonder why good and decent people would follow this toxic person, but that’s on them, not on me.) In the aftermath, a lot of these YouTube personalities have, at some point, made a bunch of noise about being blocked by me. “Oh why did this happen,” they wonder, “I’ve never interacted with this guy. Please tell me, dear followers who worship me, whatever did I do to deserve this great injustice….”