Response to @JennOfHardwire
My experience with harassment concerning GamerGate is pretty varied. I started posting about GamerGate before there even was a GamerGate along with many others. The first night I entered the discussion, I had a user get 5-6 of his/her friends to pile on me. I was called many exciting and fun names. All of them related to my intellectual, occupational, or personal abilities.
The same night, one of the pile-on group decided to tell me that I was, in fact, privileged. As a gay man, that does not fly with me. I lived in a time where being gay was cause for physical and psychological abuse. I suffered both. After being piled on, insulted, and derided, I deleted my twitter. If this was the Twitter community, I would refuse to be part of it.
After some reflection however, I noticed that the bullies were winning again. I refuse to allow bullies to win. I recommitted to the GamerGate ideals as the tag was created. My commitment to it was simple: Help GamerGate away from disorganization. As I've covered many times, I'm a social worker. It is incumbent upon me to help foster community growth. I dove into GamerGate to first assess the nature of the community. In my assessment, I saw that GamerGate was a diverse group of people across every demographic.
To date, I followed on my Twitter anyone who follows me. There are straight men and women, bisexual men and women, gay men and women, and trans men and women. There are whites, Blacks, Asians, Hispanic/Latino(a)s, and so many other "general" categories that could be broken down into a whole host of raciocultural demographics and countries of origin. I saw their political ideologies were incredibly diverse. I have met staunch Republicans, Democrats, Liberals, Labours, New Democrats, Greens, Independents, Socialists, Communists, Anarchists, Progressives, Traditionalists, and so many others.
So, I decided to enter into the fray to attempt to help with organization. I started my Medium pieces after another writer "interviewed" me and completely misconstrued my points for their point. At the time, I assumed good will on the part of this user. I came to find out this user was not attempting in good faith. They had a conclusion in their head, and the interviews would confirm that conclusion. Unsurprisingly, it did.
Soon thereafter, a group of victim-oriented women decided that GamerGate was about misogyny. GamerGate was about cis-gender, heterosexual, white, conservative men who demand gaming be free of diverse influence. These women are, to nobody's surprise, expert in their ability to emotionally manipulate others. One of them was the subject of the expose prior to the formation of the GamerGate tag. The expose (which included necessary and unnecessary details) detailed a long history of emotional and psychological abuse through construction of an unrealistic narrative that drove a man to panic. However, the emotional high of getting away with the lie supersedes the emotional and psychological well-being of those being abused.
This is how an abuser functions--their needs are greater than the needs of the abused.
This is when I, and others, stood up and declared we were minorities. I am gay. I have been gay since birth. I realized that I was gay when I hit puberty. I have absolutely no romantic or sexual interest in women. I stood up, with my own voice, and declared that as the case.
These women, and their growing allies, dictated that I was not gay. I was a confused, stupid, or lying. My reality was not real. Their reality, their view, and their need of me was greater than my identity. Again, to nobody's surprise, it was the same abuser who led this campaign once more to erase any and all minorities from GamerGate.
The term for this behavior is gas lighting. It is the construction of an alternative reality with the deliberate intent to psychologically dissociate (at worst) and confuse (at best) the victim. Those who engaged in this were actively attempting to cause psychological distress by evoking a long history of racism, sexism, transphobia, and homophobia. This transcended harassment into abuse.
Throughout my life, and the life of any minority that is not readily identifiable, I have been told that I can't possibly be gay. I have to be confused. I can't know my identity. "Are you sure?" and "Have you tried women?" are major themes in the lives of many gay men. "Maybe a good dick will get you" is a major theme of lesbian life. Every minority that one cannot readily categorize experiences this.
It was the righteous victims who employed age-old histories of bigotry to validate their point.
Soon thereafter, I started writing on Medium. These people, in my mind, made this personal by attempting to leverage important concepts like misogyny, privilege, and -isms into exclusive weapons. Almost with the first piece, I started to receive harassment. Most of it was directed at my intellectual, cognitive, or adaptive abilities. I was called stupid, idiotic, moronic, retarded, and many others. I received at least a couple comments like this in every medium. They were typically from people who are quite prominent as opponents of the GamerGate tag.
At the same time, I was on Twitter attempting to reach out and communicate with those who oppose the tag or are neutral. Sometimes it would be someone sending me a message that someone is suicidal and needs help. I would go help. There were many nights where I would get home from work at 6, have 2-3 messages in my inbox of emotional need, and respond by trying to be a friendly person.
Soon thereafter, a slew of articles came out from really questionable authors using really questionable sources. I wanted to write about them. The same happened with the really sad attempts at statistical analysis of GamerGate. Well, once again, I got some really great insults. There were some days that I was wading through really horrible comments. I focused on the good. Even though there were "academics" out there mocking me, as a person, for my work, I still wanted to try to present thought-provoking ideas.
While some were conducting unethical research without consent of her subjects through "informal conversations," I was writing a Medium piece suggesting a solid framework of how to approach research in the GamerGate hashtag while recognizing CITI requirements, the self-determination of people to participate, and methods to get us to a solid conclusion.
While some were engaging in decrying toxic masculinity and demanding you "listen and believe," I was doing research on decades of academic research on video games and violence as well as less than 10 years of research on sexism and video games.
While some were just telling everyone about how much of a victim they are because of invisible forces, I was helping people to learn about those forces and look at them critically across multiple populations to see common trends in behaviors and perceptions.
All the while, I received some really hateful comments. Had there been more access to my personal information, I'm pretty sure it would have been used as ammunition. Thankfully, they only knew I wrote Mediums and they thought I was stupid. That's all they had.
Then one day, an opponent of GamerGate decided that they wanted to once again pretend they were a mental health professional. This is my personal tic. I went to school for many years, took many classes, lost many relationships, and struggled through undergraduate and graduate school as well as licensure. I have over $60,000 in debt for a piece of paper that says, "You can do this." "This" is working with people from across the lifespan to assess, diagnose, and treat every single mental illness diagnosis in the DSM and ICD using a large amount of theories of treatment.
I have extensive education in cognitive, behavioral, humanistic, feminist, solution, brief, psychodynamic, schema, rational emotive, systems, structural, narrative, experiential, acceptance and commitment, strategic, collaborative, motivational, interpersonal, communication, reality-oriented, experiential, object-relations, and so many other forms and theories of therapy and approaches across modalities of group, individual, family, and community intervention.
I have distinct knowledge of the policies and ethics that my license follows.
So I decided to dialog with this person who decided that they could insult me as a person, retweet me to get their followers to attack me, and run while watching the chaos unfold. I decided that I was done with allowing the bullying to go without being addressed. This person shared their day with me--a hard day of writing, tweeting, and organizing a convention.
I made the choice to share amalgamated clients with any and all personal and protected information. This includes names, ages, phone numbers and such. I chose to keep in gender and a general diagnosis range with a very brief snapshot of circumstance. "I have a client with Bipolar who could lose their job" is actually a combination of multiple clients--a client, a client with Bipolar, a client who could lose their job.
Very quickly, this person started to retweet what I said. Soon, I had hundreds of notifications in just under an hour. I had people telling me I was a horrible person, a horrible therapist, a terrible social worker, etc. Whereas they did not have information to attempt to attack me before, and had to remain quite general in their insults, they had new information thanks to this user. They accused me of HIPAA violations on Twitter, Reddit, and elsewhere.
Some of them started to talk of doxxing me, finding out my place of employment, alerting my boss.
Even users on their reddit and Twitter who typically support them were saying, "Hey, back off." This one individual whipped up such a frenzied storm that I had thousands of notifications when I got home.
I had more notifications in a couple hours than I have followers. All because one person decided to retweet my conversation with them. I had threats of doxxing, attacking, and bodily harm to me and others.
It was after this that I, frankly, had enough. These people had made my day such a living hell that I had to actually push some clients. I could not function that day. All I could think about was the accusations. I called my clinical and privacy officers. Both laughed at the accusations, told me to be careful, but said I was fine. However, it stuck in the back of my head. What if these people found out my information? What if they came after me? Many people would be hurt all because I had an opinion on the internet.
So, I decided to take a break from Twitter for a bit. During that time, I decided that I needed to step back from it all. I cannot allow the hatefulness of a few to permeate my life.
I have no stopped engaging in GamerGate as a hashtag and movement. I will no longer be writing Mediums. I will not be keeping an ask.fm account (where I got some really mean stuff). I have had some requests to continue streaming or to do discussions about issues concerning GamerGate. I have decided I will do those, but I simply cannot engage with the issue anymore.
I have watched many of my friends be run out by horrible people. LianaK, who I consider a dear friend in all of this, is barraged daily by really foul individuals. I can't do that anymore. Actual human lives depend on my ability to focus on the emotional health of others. To do that I have to have good emotional health.
Do I feel like I was run out of the GamerGate issue by the harassment, vitriol, and hatefulness displayed by those who oppose GamerGate? I think this is the million dollar question that any who read this will wonder.
Without reservation, equivocation, or hesitation I say simply this:
Thank you for your interest in my story Jenn. The many kind people in GamerGate, and some of those outside of it, are the reason I am still on Twitter and willing to do little things here and there. I came back from my break over Christmas with 20+ messages and over 200 notifications wishing me a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and hoping I came back while respecting my need to step back.
I have seen hate movements. I'm a gay man living in the south. I've organized against Westboro Baptist Church.
GamerGate has to be the worst hate group in recent memory.