Wil Wheaton is an actor best known for playing the role of Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. More recently he’s become another woke white guy on Twitter who liked to troll conservatives with stuff like this tweet after a shooting inside a church: “The murdered victims were in a church. If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive….” Nice!
Anyway, earlier this month Wheaton decided to ditch his Twitter account in protest of the fact that Twitter was refusing to ban Alex Jones from the site even after other social media sites (Facebook, YouTube) had obliterated Jones. Wheaton wasn’t just looking to make a momentary protest, he decided to abandon the site for good. In a post on his own website, he said Twitter had stopped being fun, thanks mostly to terrible people on the right:
It started to get toxic slowly at first, then all at once, starting with the misogynist dipshits who were behing the gate-which-shall-not-be-named. That was clearly a turning point for Twitter, and it never really recovered from it. I watched, in real time, as the site I loved turned into a right wing talk radio shouting match that made YouTube comments and CSPAN call-ins seem scholarly. We tried for a couple of years to fight back, to encourage Twitter to take a stand against bad actors (HA HA LIKE ME BECAUSE I AM A BAD ACTOR RIGHT YOU GOT ME HA HA HA). Twitter doesn’t care about how its users are affected by themselves, though. Twitter cares about growth and staying on the good side of President Shitler’s tantrums.
I mean, honestly, the most lucid and concise indictment I can give Twitter is: it’s the service that Donald Trump uses to communicate with and incite his cultists.
So, Wheaton deleted his Twitter account and moved onto a smaller site called Mastodon thinking that there, away from the terrible right-wingers infesting Twitter, he could recapture some of the early fun of social media. What happened next surprised him:
I found a harsh reality that I’m still trying to process: thousands of people who don’t know me, who have never interacted with me, who internalized a series of lies about me, who were never willing to give me a chance. I was harassed from the minute I made my account, and though I expected the “shut up wesley”s and “go fuck yourself”s to taper off after a day or so, it never did. And even though I never broke any rules on the server I joined (Mastodon is individual “instances” which is like a server, which connects to the “federated timeline”, which is what all the other servers are), one of its admins told me they were suspending my account, because they got 60 (!) reports overnight about my account, and they didn’t want to deal with the drama.
Had the right-wing infested Mastodon too? It doesn’t sound that way. In fact, Wheaton was hounded off the site by people who accused him of being anti-trans. Witness the revolution eating its own:
During GamerGate, I was dogpiled and mobbed and brigaded and attacked by thousands of accounts. I started using a blocklist that was supposed to help stop that. I did not know that the blocklist I signed up for also had a lot of trans women on it. When I found out, I did everything I could to remove those women from the list I shared. When there were still innocents on the list, I stopped sharing the list entirely. Despite this, a mob has decided that I’m anti-trans. 3/x
This lie that I am anti-trans, or anti-LGBQ, is deeply hurtful to me (I know it’s nothing like the pain LGBTQ people deal with every day, as they simply try to *exist* in a world that treats them so badly, but it is still hurtful in its own way to me). I just want to make it extremely clear: that is a lie, and the people spreading it are misinformed.
So I’m leaving the Fediverse, which has treated me with more cruelty, vitriol, hatred, and contempt than than anyone on the birdsite ever did. 4/x
I know that I’m well-off, well-known, and as a CIS white hetro dude in America, I live life on the lowest difficulty setting. I know that I have very little to complain about. But I still have feelings, and I really do care about the world and the people in it. What I see is a lot of anger and cruelty directed at the IDEA of me, from people who I just hope don’t realize that it really does hurt me, in my heart, to be accused of being someone I am not, and to be the target of a hateful mob.
So even after all this Wheaton is still apologizing for his privilege as if he might be wrong to complain about being lied about and harassed. Memo to Wil Wheaton: You’re not the one who should be apologizing! Here’s his conclusion about what it all means:
This isn’t limited to Mastodon.cloud (the worst attacks and dogpiling came from a few other instances before the instance I was on became awful) and it isn’t limited to Twitter.com. I see this in the online space all the time now: mobs of people, acting in bad faith, can make people they don’t know and will likely never meet miserable, or even try to ruin their lives and careers (look at what they did to James Gunn). And those mobs’ bad behaviors are continually rewarded, because it’s honestly easier to just give them what they want. We are ceding the social space to bad people, because they have the most time, the least morals and ethics, and are skilled at relentlessly attacking and harassing their targets…
For a brief moment you think: Maybe he finally gets it. Maybe he’s about to say that left-wing mobs are bad and should be opposed. Maybe he’s going to wonder how he overlooked that fact for so long. But no, he’s just going slink away, wondering if he’s lost his mind:
I’m done with social media. Maybe I just don’t fit into whatever the social media world is. I mean, the people who are all over the various Mastodon instances made it really clear that I wasn’t welcome there (with a handful of notable, joyful, exceptions, mostly related to my first baby steps into painting), and it seems as if I was just unwelcome because … I’m me? I guess? Like, I know that I’m not a transphobe, but holy shit that lie just won’t die, and right now as I am writing this, someone at Mastodon is telling me that I am, because people said so, and I should apologize to them. I mean, how am I supposed to respond to that, when it happens over and over and over again? “You’ve been lied to about me. Please give me a chance” just doesn’t seem like a viable way forward with people who are, for whatever reason, very, very angry. And these people seem to have an idea of me in their head that doesn’t fit with the idea of myself that I have in my head. It’s honestly caused me to rethink a lot of stuff. Like, am I really the terrible person they say I am? I don’t think I am, but I’m doing my best to listen, and when I say, “please stop yelling at me and let’s have a conversation that I can grow from” I get yelled at for “tone policing” and honestly I just get exhausted and throw up my hands. Maybe I’m not this person they tell me I am, but I represent that person in their heads, and they treat me accordingly? This is one of those times when my mental illness makes it very hard for me to know what’s objective reality and what’s just in my head.
This poor guy is wondering if he’s crazy after just a few weeks being targeted by social justice warriors. That’s sad, but I guess there’s some rough cosmic justice to this, though I’m not sure he sees it yet or ever will.