I thought I was inured to social media abuse. But this was something new: a calm public discussion about how to find me and what to do to me. No one deleted the comment by “gnomish.” The conversation just kept spiraling along.
I know that this is much worse for women; I shudder to think what Christine Blasey Ford’s email has been like lately. I know enough American history to understand that for people of color the deed has followed the threat with chilling regularity. I know that it’s worse in other places — 207 environmentalists or defenders were killed last year around the world. I have no idea if these people actually wish to murder me, though it’s disconcerting to imagine who among those millions of visitors to the site will read the comments and decide to drive to my house.
But aside from my own fear — and I’m now installing surveillance cameras, because it turns out that public death threats slash through some of the psychic insulation privilege provides — what really bothered me was the matter-of-factness of it all. What does it say about a society when people just routinely call for the killing of those they disagree with? You’ll note that “gnomish” abbreviated his profane phrase, because curse words are banned on this website. But its moderators apparently just read right past the death threat.