Brute Reason

A collection of thoughts about psychology, social justice, and anything else I give a shit about. freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason

Topics: feminism / psychology / lgbtq / sex / politics / abortion / health / mental illness / language / depression / sexism / sexual assault / fashion / racism / education / social justice

my actual writing, if you're curious

Let’s take a trip back to the early aughts, when political blogs and arguing about politics on Internet message boards went mainstream. As a college student and later as a newspaper reporter, I was subject to all manner of vile and ad hominem insults in comments. I nevertheless subscribed to the prevailing ethos of the time: that unmoderated comments were the least bad approach, because they acted as an important check on the writer or publication that was hosting them, a particularly important feature in an era when anyone could publish anything. My 25-year-old self felt confident that, having been subject to vitriol as serious as death threats, I was fully aware of the costs of the approach I advocated. Like many bloggers, I quickly developed thick skin, especially with regard to trolls. It wasn’t always easy, but it seemed a small price to pay for all the excellent comments I got to read as compared to the prior world of boring letters to the editor.

Then I guest-blogged for Megan McArdle. At the time, she was employed here at The Atlantic. My stint running her page while she vacationed included the keys to the blog’s inbox. Even as someone who’d previously blogged about immigration in California’s Inland Empire, fielding insults and aggressive invective as vile as any I could imagine, I was shocked by a subset of her blog’s correspondence. To this day, I don’t know if I was experiencing a typical or atypical week. Perhaps in the abstract, there isn’t any threat more extreme than the death threats I’d received and brushed off as unserious. But I read emails and comments addressed at McArdle that expanded my notion of how disturbing online vitriol could be. And it took my actually reading them for my perspective to change.

I’d never been exposed to anything like it before.

When Misogynist Trolls Make Journalism Miserable for Women - Conor Friedersdorf - The Atlantic

This is why I share the shit I get. Men straight-up DO NOT BELIEVE IT until they see the evidence. It’s all “well people are mean to me online too” and “well everyone gets shit online, that’s just how it is.”

Everyone gets shit online, but what kind of shit and how much shit is highly variable.

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