Essays on Technology and Culture

Flickering the Gaslight: Tactics of Organized Online Harassment

“For many of us, hooked into an abusive relationship with tech, with Twitter, with local and global communities, or even corporate entities, we are constantly walking on eggshells. The toxicity (or implicit threat) of sexism, racism, transphobia, ableism, and poverty leave us feeling utterly isolated and without recourse. Faced with organized infiltration, appropriation and psychological abuse in our online communities, we have stopped believing in our own interpretations of what we experience. We don’t believe our innate reactions are valid. If we are extremely lucky, and not utterly isolated, we rely on the trusted counsel of a few close friends, so that we can periodically reassure ourselves that what we are perceiving and experiencing is real.”

Flickering the Gaslight: Tactics of Organized Online Harassment by Gersande La Flèche | Model View Culture

The same tools that enable marginalized groups to find each other and unite for their benefit had the problem of exposing them to ever more anonymous abuse. It doesn’t help that so many declarations of harassment are so easily dismissed by those of us in a space of privilege online. Either harassment doesn’t happen to us, or it’s just an inevitable fact of living online. Neither is a valid reaction. The experience of harassment is real, and we owe its victims to find a way to end it.