Via the facebooks (where this post is doubled) I found an interesting article re hysterical MRAs, #gamergate trolls, pickup artists and angry douches on the web in general. Takeaway message: they’re not angry “nerds” lashing out. They’re just arseholes. The linked article’s a whole four months old (!) but is still accurate in large part.
“These anonymous men aren’t underdogs who have been unfairly excluded from pop culture due to their dense interest in quirky topics. They’re antisocial hatemongers, and one way or another, they will be left behind.”
That’s the thing – the key difference between the comic/gaming/fantasy/scifi/etc fans I’m familiar with (and am) and petulant little online anonymous arse-parrots who want to wreck other people’s shit: “nerds” don’t give a mouldy turd if they’re shut out of “popular culture”. They have their own culture and they didn’t – don’t – actually care if it’s popular. Occasionally you’ll encounter people who prefer it that way – indeed, there may well be a small number of uber-hardcore fans who appear (or just are) utterly unwelcoming to noobs (such people are culturally ubiquitous though, not just limited to niche pursuits), but by and large it’s my experience that fans of so-called “nerd” culture love sharing their love with new fans. After all, what’s so wrong with having more people to share your favourite stuff with?
When I started high school in 1989 I’d come from a tiny primary school (four kids in my final year!) in a little rural bubble. Like most others in my demographic I’d read as many comics as living miles from the nearest newsagent would allow, grown up on ’80s TV and I had a decent C-64 library to while away the hours, but the guys I quickly formed friendships with expanded my cultural horizons in ways I’ll always be grateful for. Library sessions of D&D, Tolkien-worship, C-64 game swapping (and occasional pirating – hopefully the statute of limitations on that little misdemeanour has expired) hours poring over 2000AD comics, endless discussions of hypothetical T-800/Jason Voorhees death-matches, equally endless bong-fuelled Zeppelin-soundtracked SNES/Mega Drive marathons, all leading to later obsessions with Asimov, Iain M Banks, death metal, prog-rock, PC gaming, Terry Goodkind – the things I still love and pursue are in large part thanks to the guys I made friends with at school (and soon afterwards), and whose deep love for their favourite things was both infectious and freely shared.
Again, that’s the key difference between guys who just love comics/gaming/etc and the troll-hordes online. The anonymous wannabe stormtroopers of gamergate and the various other misogynist sub-cultures online simply don’t want to share and they don’t play well with others. And there’s no love in what they do; only a desire to protect what they perceive as their kingdoms against encroachment by the unworthy, based on a mistaken belief that others want to take them away or (especially in the case of the hordes attacking women in gaming) dumb them down or dilute all the fun out of them in the service of social justice (the latest four-letter word among the manchildren, it’s synonymous with “political correctness gone mad”).
So, to those standing on their ramparts (or, more appropriately, hiding in their keeps and sending endless poison-pen missives) and waxing loathsome about how Feminazis or social justice warriors or Beta males are going to ruin their cultures, whether online or meatspace: good. I hope they do. Your cultures, as they stand, are opposed to equality and to inclusiveness and, crucially, are not based on love for what you do. They’re toxic, jealous and far more more cliquish than any adolescent gang I ever encountered in high school. The people in the cultures I’ve long identified with – the movie and music obsessives, lifelong gamers (33 years and counting), fantasy and comic fans, the lovers of all things science-fiction (and science fact) – know very well that the more, the merrier.