You must read her discussion of the ‘Kool-Aid Point’. There are a lot of interesting insights there.
I wrote a light-hearted article about “haters” (the quotes matter) and something I called The Koolaid Point. It wasn’t about harassment, abuse, or threats against people but about the kind of brand “trolls” you find in, say, Apple discussion forums. My wildly non-scientific theory was this: the most vocal trolling and “hate” for a brand kicks in HARD once a critical mass of brand fans/users are thought to have “drunk the Koolaid”. In other words, the hate wasn’t so much about the product/brand but that other people were falling for it.
That certainly sounds familiar.
I now believe the most dangerous time for a woman with online visibility is the point at which others are seen to be listening, “following”, “liking”, “favoriting”, retweeting. In other words, the point at which her readers have (in the troll’s mind) “drunk the Koolaid”. Apparently, that just can’t be allowed.
From the hater’s POV, you (the Koolaid server) do not “deserve” that attention. You are “stealing” an audience. From their angry, frustrated point of view, the idea that others listen to you is insanity. From their emotion-fueled view you don’t have readers you have cult followers. That just can’t be allowed.
Wow, that really sounds familiar. Don’t you all agree, my cult minions?
You must be stopped. And if they cannot stop you, they can at least ruin your quality of life. A standard goal, in troll culture, I soon learned, is to cause “personal ruin”. They aren’t all trolls, though. Some of those who seek to stop and/or ruin you are misguided/misinformed but well-intended. They actually believe in a cause, and they believe you (or rather the Koolaid you’re serving) threatens that cause.
But the Koolaid-Point-driven attacks are usually started by (speculating, educated guess here, not an actual psychologist, etc) sociopaths. They’re doing it out of pure malice, “for the lulz.” And those doing it for the lulz are masters at manipulating public perception. Master trolls can build an online army out of the well-intended, by appealing to The Cause (more on that later). The very best/worst trolls can even make the non-sociopaths believe “for the lulz” is itself a noble cause.
The sense of deja vu is becoming overwhelming.
So I don’t have the luxury of assuming “it’s just online. Not REAL. It’s not like these people would ever do anything in the real world .” And what you don’t hear much about is what most targeted women find the most frightening of all: the stalkerish energy, time, effort, focus on… YOU. The drive-by hate/threat comment, no matter how vile, is just that, a comment that took someone 2.5 seconds to think and execute. It might be annoying, offensive, maybe intimidating the first few times. But you get used to those, after all, it’s not like somebody put time and effort into it.
But Photoshopped images? Stories drawn from your own work? There’s a creepy and invasive horror knowing someone is pouring over your words, doing Google and Flickr image searches to find the perfect photo to manipulate. That someone is using their time and talent to write code even, about you. That’s not trolling, that’s obsession. That’s the point where you know it’s not really even about the Koolaid now…they’re obsessed with you.
AAAAARGH! Get out of my head, Kathy Sierra!
We need to stop propagating the troll-driven meme that “it’s all just trollin’ and boohoo mean words you should cry more” and start making the hard, fine-grained distinctions. The hater trolls use the ‘just trollin’ and ‘just mean words’ to minimize even the worst attacks and gaslight their targets. In hater troll framing, there’s no difference between a single tweet and a DDoS of your employer’s website. There’s no difference between a “you’re a histrionic charlatan” and “here’s a headless corpse and you are next and here’s your address.” It’s all just trollin’ and mean words and not real life.
It’s all ‘just trollin’ unless you, you know, actually deserved it. Then they’re all, “sure, things got a little out of hand, and threats of violence are never acceptable but, um, what did you expect?” Followed by, “Well actually, if it WERE actual HARASSMENT, then it’s for The Authorities.”
Fun Troll Logic:IF no legal action happens THEN it wasn’t actually "real” harassment
You’re probably more likely to win the lottery than to get any law enforcement agency in the United States to take action when you are harassed online, no matter how viscously and explicitly. Local agencies lack the resources, federal agencies won’t bother. (Unless you’re a huge important celebrity. But the rules are always different for them. But trolls are quite happy to attack people who lack the resources to do anything about it. Troll code totally supports punching DOWN.)
Read the whole thing. It’s a masterful summary of our current situation.
Unfortunately, it’s a little vague on what to do about it all.