Remember GamerGate? I know you don't want to.
What Gamergate should have taught us about the 'alt-right'
Looking back, Gamergate really only made sense in one way: as an exemplar of what Umberto Eco called “eternal fascism”, a form of extremism he believed could flourish at any point in, in any place – a fascism that would extol traditional values, rally against diversity and cultural critics, believe in the value of action above thought and encourage a distrust of intellectuals or experts – a fascism built on frustration and machismo. The requirement of this formless fascism would – above all else – be to remain in an endless state of conflict, a fight against a foe who must always be portrayed as impossibly strong and laughably weak. This was the methodology of Gamergate, and it now forms the basis of the contemporary far-right movement.
I've been thinking a lot today about what factors led us to where we are, with president-elect Trump and his growing coven of white supremacists. There are a lot. I considered listing them all down because I couldn't get a handle on all of them in my head at once. Then I realized that I'm pretty sure these factors are all the same ones that have been fucking with the general populace in favor of the rich, powerful few for centuries. White supremacy, patriarchy, ableism, transphobia, homophobia, capitalism, the general desire of the powerful to not only maintain their power but get more, human instincts that have become increasingly mal-adaptive in a rapidly changing world.
There is one serious difference. The Internet. The ability for people connect with like-minded people, the clashing of very differently-minded people, the anonymity, the echo chambers, the ability to spread fake news combined with people not checking to see if it's real or even read more than the headline (we're all guilty of it). It's very new and we don't know how to deal with it all.
It's not all bad, of course. It's very much a double-edged sword. Good people get together, bad people get together. Real information is spread rapidly, fake information is spread rapidly. But whether you think it's more good or more bad, it's here to stay. And the patterns from GamerGate are going to keep repeating until we can find a way to do better. Somehow, we have to break the cycle of eternal fascism.
Or we'll be wiped out from global warming. Stay tuned to find out which happens first.