Posts Tagged ‘Whitney Phillips’

Like a number of people I know, I’ve been reluctant to write online in light of what happened last Friday. Anything I could write, including a bunch of things I’ve got backlogged, seemed so trivial, and the last thing the internet needed was another opinion on the tragedy, so I wasn’t about to write that even if it would have been healthy to purge all the things running around in my head in something beyond a sad or angry twitter post.

Additionally, most of what I did read (and I was indeed reading and retweeting a bit of what others were all-too-willing to post) was shit . . . ideological, reactionary, narrow, disrespectful, etc., and all that despite of intent. More often than not, people need to shut up and think first instead of blurting things out online.

I’m ready to–not sure it is the right phrasing because the effect of events like this doesn’t just go away–move on; and that last sentence in the above paragraph brings me around to a more broad topic that a friend recently published an article on and I’d like to briefly chime in on.

Over at The Awl, my friend Whitney Phillips co-authored (with Kate Miltner) a piece called “The Internet’s Vigilante Shame Army.” The article deals with a lot of what has happened this past year with relation to individual online misdeeds/mistakes/creepiness and the subsequent retribution via doxxing/public shaming/IRL fallout carried out by groups of angry users. It is a long read, and covers a large number of subsets of behavior, but is quite excellent in analyzing one important aspect of where our online discourse is right now.  I strongly recommend anyone who finds this post reading it in its entirety before he or she bothers with the rest of my post.

A declaration of topic from the opening section by Phillips:

If recent high-profile controversies surrounding Violentacrez, Comfortably Smug, racist teens on Twitter, Lindsey Stone and Hunter Moore are any indication, it would seem that many people, members of the media very much included, are increasingly willing to take online justice into their own hands. Because these behaviors attempt to route around the existing chain of command (within mainstream media circles, the legal system, even on-site moderation policies), I’ve taken to describing them as a broad kind of online vigilantism. It might not be vigilantism in the Dog the Bounty Hunter sense, but it does—at least, it is meant to—call attention to and push back against some real or perceived offense.

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