Jul. 16th, 2012

amorpha: (Default)
(Wrote a lot of this lying down, since writing sitting up was causing TMI problems, even though I usually write better when our head's in some kind of elevated position. Hope all of this makes sense. Also, brainweirdness is causing hypergraphia and it's actually very draining on our energy right now, but the nature of hypergraphia is that it's... really hard to resist. Bleh.)

So we weren't in a mood where we could expand in the thoughts in that last entry fully, when we first wrote it. But there was a lot more we've been thinking about, on the issue of trolls, and how they can shape people's perceptions of hateable communities (as defined here). How, in some cases, the Tumblr SJ community's entire perception of what a community was like, was mostly created by trolls.

Like youneedacat said about similar issues, we've tried to write about this before, but it always ends up getting really convoluted. Hoping we can keep it understandable this time.

The way the community has singled out plurals and Otherkin as acceptable targets-- and decided they were all claiming to be oppressed and comparing themselves to other groups who are unquestionably oppressed, including trans people-- is so ironic it makes me feel kind of sick, considering how most of the community's "knowledge" about these groups came about in the first place.

There was a point-- I don't know exactly when it started, but it began intensifying sometime last year-- when a bunch of trolls and griefers started coming onto Tumblr. I don't know how many of them had planned their actions in advance, but some of them had come from places, like 4chan, where people had openly orchestrated trolling campaigns in the past. At any rate, a lot of them started playing off each other and 'supporting' each other, and took advantage of the hateable status of various groups to turn the SJ community against them. Some of them were just there to mock the entire concept of "social justice," and would do things like reblog the various Privilege Denying People memes just to mock the whole idea that certain groups were oppressed. There's one guy who calls himself "socialjusticeally" (I guess the name is supposed to be "ironic" or something) who continually gets into and reblogs SJ discussions just to make fun of them.

None of them started out targeting hateable groups above all others, that we saw. But there were several of these trolls who continually went after people who didn't identify with their bodies in any way at all, calling them delusional and pathetic and so on. Which included not only plurals and Otherkin, but trans people as well.

Every single thing these trolls were saying about plurals and nonhuman-identified people, they were also saying about trans people. They trolled the hell out of quite a few trans people, calling them delusional, pathetic, stupid, told them they were mentally ill and needed help, etc-- they'd reblog trans people's posts just to "highlight" how "pathetic and deluded" they supposedly were, and declare that it was obviously "impossible" to be male or female if your body didn't match standard biological definitions of what that meant. There was one person we saw reblog posts by trans people discussing the meaning of what it meant to be male or female, just to add a big macro saying "Men have penises. Women have vaginas," or some similar dead horse argument used against trans people.

And these were the people responsible for "informing" a lot of the SJ community on Tumblr about the existence of plurals and kin/therians and fictives. The trolls who were doing all this bashing of trans people.

And for what it's worth, when we saw plural websites get "highlighted" on snark pages ten years ago, we also saw trans people's pages get "highlighted." Many of the people posting on the messageboards would constantly misgender them, or call them things like "she/he/it," or "s/h/it," which was supposed to be really hilarious and witty or something. In some cases the trans people in question were saying things we disagreed with a lot, but that does not fucking invalidate their gender or make it okay or funny to refer to them as "she/he/it." Whether we agree or disagree with their opinions has nothing to do with it.

And yes, I do know that being transgender is not exactly the same thing as identifying with a nonhuman animal or a fictional character. I know it pretty damn personally, in fact, since we collectively experience dysphoria about our body and I identify as genderqueer myself. (And my own ideal appearance would probably cause me to get harassed for not looking clearly either male or female.)

The thing was that the trolls were conflating all forms of not identifying with your body. Including being trans. And regarded them all as stupid and delusional.

A lot of the time, people seem to think that ignoring trolls will make them go away. We used to think that. We used to use "don't feed the trolls" as a tagline on Usenet all the time. A lot of people think that trolls are basically just screaming for attention and they don't care whether the attention is positive or negative, as long as they get it, and that if you don't give them the attention they desperately want they'll go away.

And yeah, there are some trolls who work like that. I've hung out on video gaming messageboards so I'm familiar with that type-- the type who really would just go away if people stopped responding to them when they posted the same thing three hundred times. The thing is that assuming all trolls are like that is dangerously wishful thinking.

Some trolls-- and we were starting to see this back on Usenet in the 90s, and it was one of the main reasons we left it-- are practiced sociopaths and manipulators who've just taken the same kinds of things they do offline, and started doing them online. Some people basically learn how to be effective sociopaths through the Internet. In a way that can't be prevented just by "not feeding them." Because the kinds of people who do this stuff are not just getting shits and giggles out of seeing people respond to very obvious bait repeatedly. They want to hurt people. They want to turn communities against each other, or against specific people. They want to use people against other people, and they don't care who gets hurt. They find it funny, and some people have the mentality that the more people they can hurt, or the more people they can get to join them in trying to hurt a certain person or community, the better. And they can orchestrate some pretty elaborate social schemes in order to do this.

We saw several trolls approach trans people, and other people who didn't identify with their bodies-- again, it doesn't matter that not all these things are the same as being trans, it was that the trolls were TREATING them all the same way-- with typical concern trolling bullshit. "Get help. You are obviously delusional if you think you can be a woman/man when you're clearly not." And some people tried to argue with them, and the trolls responded with increasing insults-- calling them stupid and pathetic, reblogging their posts just to mock them and get other trolls joining in. (Because that's what people who are genuinely concerned about another person's psychological health do. Yeah.)


And for some reason this made the SJ community start to sit up and notice them. People who weren't checking the Tumblrs of the people blogging this stuff to see that they were saying the same things about trans people.

And this idea got started, I don't know how it got started, I think it was from a minority of people taking some kind of simplistic model of privilege and oppression, and trying to apply it sledgehammerishly to every form of human difference ever, like it worked the same for every single group. But anyway, suddenly it seemed like almost everyone talking about them in the SJ community was convinced that Otherkin, fictives, etc were all claiming to be persecuted on the same level and in the same way as trans people and people of color and disabled people and so on. And that they believed transgender experiences were perfect mirrors of their experience, you just replaced "gender" with the name of some species or something. That EVERY SINGLE ONE OF "THEM" BELIEVED THIS, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, AND THAT "THEIR" COMMUNITIES WERE ENTIRELY BASED AROUND THESE BELIEFS.

(Most of the people I know with those identities, who participate in SJ communities, are pretty damn closeted, actually, or very low-key about it. Or no one ever responds to them when they say that actually yes, they do bodily belong to various oppressed groups. And most of them are pretty adamant that no, it's not exactly the same as being transgender, or similar things, even if they have experienced oppression from the psych system.)

And a lot of the SJ community's callout beatdown rage response, in many places, seemed to be based in this myth that they were "claiming to be just the same as trans people." WHEN THE SJ COMMUNITY WOULD PROBABLY NOT HAVE KNOWN ABOUT THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE, OR WOULD NOT HAVE CARED ABOUT THEM AS MUCH, IF NOT FOR TROLLS WHO WERE CALLING TRANS PEOPLE PATHETIC AND DELUSIONAL AND INSANE AND ALL KINDS OF OTHER NASTY THINGS.

Oh and some of these people who eventually ended up being "cited" by the Tumblr SJ community as supposedly being typical examples of how spoiled privileged teenagers with these silly, ridiculous identities were appropriating the oppression of trans people, and various other marginalized groups, and how we should all be angry at them and attack them for it? Those people were trolls themselves. People who had created troll personas, pretending to be members of hateable communities, trying to make those communities look as ridiculous as possible. Or because they believed they were making some kind of "point" about some supposed nonexistant widespread problem of the Tumblr SJ community supposedly accepting everyone who claimed any kind of marginalized identity at all, and therefore invalidating people who experienced real oppression. (Given the mass dogpiling and knee-jerk reblogging and agreement we saw when Tumblr SJ people attacked various people considered hateable-- or trolls pretending to be hateable people-- I'm not sure where they got this impression. We have seen people in various hateable communities who seemed to be treating every single form of identity in the same way, but they are a definite minority, from everything we've seen.)

For example, there was one person on Tumblr calling themselves "prince_koyangi," who claimed to be, if I'm remembering correctly, a pangendered, asexual, polyromantic, autistic catkin, as well as "trans-Korean." (...I have another rant I'm working on about various assumptions about the so-called "transethnic community," or more specifically, the fact that we have NEVER BEEN ABLE TO FIND IT outside from isolated trolls, and a very small number of people who naively but sincerely believed it referred to people of different ethnicities within a plural system. Which is actually something that was reported as early as the 18th century in Western medical literature. But this is definitely not the time to sidetrack into that.)

Anyway, after going on for a while, answering questions in various ways which all gave off indicators of being a troll to us but apparently not to a lot of other people, getting featured on Oh No They Didn't and Fark.com (mainly because of their claim to be "trans-Korean," I think), "prince_koyangi" declared that they were actually a troll and the creation of three separate people working together, to "show the absurdity" of the various identities they had claimed to have. Actually we weren't able to read their full "explanation" post because we were having a rough time of it offline for unrelated reasons, and frankly got too triggered to finish it. Just that we, and various other friends, definitely saw them admit to being a troll.

A friend of ours wrote to them and said that while you could debate about the oppressed status of the other things they claimed to be, appropriating an autistic identity, to suggest that being autistic was somehow "trendy" or for any other reason, was definitely not okay. They never got an answer to that question, because the next day "prince_koyangi" deleted their Tumblr. I'm not sure how many other autistic people ever knew about this, although I expect that if large numbers of people had been saying similar things to them, the trolls (or some other troll watching the whole thing from the sidelines) might eventually have started strategizing to pit the autistic community against people considered hateable.

Anyway, summary of this entire mess: they were a troll, anyone who continues to point to them as any kind of "example" of the kind of identities they were claiming, do your research. They were a troll, the end.

And some trolls actually didn't seem to recognize that they were a troll-- the same trolls who were trying to pit the SJ community against everyone with a hateable identity. So in some places, the trolls actually ended up being trolled by other trolls, because their worldview was so pessimistic that they believed anyone claiming any 'weird' identity, even if that identity would actually be considered questionable, outlandish or offensive within much of the person's claimed community, is being totally honest.

One additional thing we've noticed about trolls and hateability, and another thought about hateability and culture in general. )

...Anyway. I don't know what to do right now except to keep writing the truth as I understand it and dealing with various myths, distortions, and outright lies as we encounter them.

(And if I've genuinely gotten any of this wrong, like about the timing when the trolls started to interact with the Tumblr SJ community or similar, let me know. Because if I'm going to deconstruct something I want to do an accurate deconstruction of it.)



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