Some Thoughts on the Verge’s “The End of Kindness”

September 12, 2013 § 1 Comment

why can't i hold all these feels

Greg Sandoval’s article about weev and the cult of the angry young man has me juggling a lot of feels. First and most importantly, I’m relieved to see this article in print; as I discussed way back in March, I was dismayed to see the outpouring of support for weev post-conviction. Not because I agreed with the charges, they were clearly bullshit, but because the magical reframing of weev as American free speech hero was an even more insidious flavor of bullshit.

Sandoval’s article calls attention to this fact, and challenges the impulse to adopt as a martyr for FREE SPEECH (I have expressed my attitudes towards FREE SPEECH of the all-caps internet eye-roll variety here) the same guy who has for years stomped all over the speech of others, particularly women, and even more particularly Kathy Sierra. This is a weird, offensive, and ultimately counterproductive impulse — I can’t think of a better way to undermine arguments for a free and unregulated internet than by rallying behind a self-proclaimed anti-Semitic racist who likes to terrorize women on the internet. From a purely PR perspective, that seems like an odd move.

But maybe not so odd, given recent conversations about the cult of the bro within the tech space, summarized nicely by Nitasha Tiku in this Valleywag article. Maybe the reason weev is regarded by so many people as an American treasure is because so many people have internalized the idea that violence towards women, whether symbolic or directly physical, isn’t that big of a deal, a point Sierra reiterated in her interview with Sandoval. “His rise as a folk hero is a sign of how desensitized to the abuse of women online people have become,” she stated.

Just as importantly, weev’s case shows the gendered and raced one-sidedness of so many conversations about FREE SPEECH — I can’t remember a time I have ever heard a woman (qualification: who isn’t a bigoted Ann Coulter white lady type) or person of color hide behind the First Amendment to justify their speech. Much more frequently (and/or much more always, since I can’t for the life of me think of a counterexample) FREE SPEECH, at least the kind weev is celebrated for helping protect, is almost always deployed by precisely the people  whose speech has always been the most free to silence those whose speech has always been the most precarious.

So maybe, in the end, weev IS a free speech hero —  in which case, we had better rethink the politics behind that term. Because if Andrew Auernheimer is what we mean when we talk about FREE SPEECH  — well, I’ll let you fill in that blank for yourself. Personally I am inclined to say no thank you.

Monthly Update, or, On Adjusting to a New New Media Landscape

September 6, 2013 § 1 Comment

Marsh nathan chris

Chris and I have been busy of late settling in –or attempting to settle in– to our new home (the above picture was taken just up the path from our house). Arcata is a different can of worms, I’ll tell you that much, which in addition to being simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying has forced us to think about the things we’ve been wrong about, particularly in relation to social media. Which, as Chris explains in this blog post, doesn’t really exist out here, at least not in the ways we’re used to:

Soon after moving to Arcata, lots of old friends kept sending me invites to the new, private, hyperlocal social network The video made the idea seem perfect for our needs. I signed up and invited my neighbors to do the same. But they never did. They didn’t see the point when they already know each other and interact with each other face to face. The typical Arcata resident doesn’t consider their next door neighbors to be strangers. They don’t walk around avoiding eye contact with everyone they come in contact with. There’s no sense of anonymity when walking in a crowd because that crowd is made up of people that you have seen before and will definitely see again and again. I’m not saying it’s better this way. It certainly has its disadvantages too. But holy shit this experience has been teaching me that most of what I thought I knew is hardly even applicable in a place like this. And I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what I wanted.

I’m also pretty sure this is exactly what I wanted, but it does require reexamining all of those assumptions that I have apparently been making for the last five years. Chris says it best:

Living and working in media in New York can give a person (read: a person like me) the sense that they have a better understanding of how the world works than most other people. After all, when you’re successfully supporting yourself within the highly competitive markets of the self-proclaimed capital of the world, your experiences become the authority. Maybe it’s because I’m a white man, but when I would make a universalizing claim about how “people” use the “internet” (read: the parts of it that I was interested in) I tended to feel confident that my perspective was at the very least well-informed. From where I sat, I could confidently say that the internet had become so integral to “our” daily lives that it was hard for “any of us” to imagine it any differently.

And I hate to admit it, but I’m similarly guilty. I have universalized. I have used that “we” uncritically. I feel a bit sheepish about all that (a common theme on this blog today).

On the other hand, this experience has definitely given me a new perspective on the work I have done, am currently doing, and will continue to do in the future — work that will take pains to avoid positing a “we” when actually referring to the behavioral practices of a specific affinity group, in this case people getting paid to do things on and say things about a relatively small sliver of the internet that may matter a lot to some people, but certainly not to everyone, the end.

I Know What I’M Wearing to Jason’s Party!

April 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s the whispered “fashhhhion shaaaaack” that gets me.

Review of HBO’s “Girls”

April 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

a rainbow of beige

Yesterday I wrote about HBO’s Girls, a show for and about white people that is either very smart or very dumb. Maybe both, but not for the reasons people might think.

Full article here.

[and/or full text after the jump]

« Read the rest of this entry »

Marry Me, Tumblr Profile

March 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

The internet is a magical place

Some genius created a Tumblr profile featuring people crying on cam. Grade: A+

Reading Rainbow

January 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

Just stunning!

My girl’s at it again! Via the Daily Troll.

Also here.

Also hey look, German hackers are auslookin to build their own open-source internet!

In unrelated white people news…


Not to Sound Racist, But……[twirls hair]

January 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

Also, yes, “shit [category of people] say” has been around for YEARS in internet time (a month), and I’ve not posted any because most of the early ones weren’t very funny plus would have made Richard Dyer eat his own face (“shit girls say” should have been “shit upper middle class white asshole girls say”). But this one wins because of HOLLER.


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