If you haven’t heard about #GamerGate at this point, then you are probably in a self exile from news, media and gaming, and I commend your discipline.
“What the hell is #GamerGate? I’m over here doing monk shit”
But for the rest of us – it’s been pretty clear – battle lines have been drawn, opinions have been stated, shills have been shilling, and the big internet culture war is in full swing. You have a side that has never lost vs a side that has nothing to lose, and we are all witnesses and participants.
But notice what I said there? Internet. That’s right, internet. During most of this conflict, the dialogue was confined to blogs, tweets, youtube videos and an occasional mainstream news mention. But I have never encountered a #GamerGate discussion in real life until now, and this experience was unlike any discussion I’ve had before. Well, “discussion” isn’t really the right word here, but let me back up to where this whole thing started – last Friday night – Halloween.
I was hanging out with some friends that live in Riverdale, New York – a Bronx suburb on the edge of the NYC and Yonkers border. I wasn’t planning on getting into any sort of Halloween debauchery, partially because I’ve been working myself stupid with all of my latest projects, and partially because I had a crazy night with Matt Forney, Goldmund, and many other manosphere folks the night before. I just wanted to chill with my friends, and we stopped at a local bar.
The 3 of us are drinking, talking, and glancing at basketball highlights. I make a mental note that the tiny t-shirt Lakers jerseys are pretty sweet. And since #NoNothingNovember hasn’t started for me yet, I decided to step outside and hopefully bum a cigarette, and enjoy that sweet sweet vice one last time before November 1.
Outside the bar – a guy was kind enough to give me a cigarette and we started shooting the shit. Another guy was standing outside next to us in a sweet Wolverine costume, which gave me an idea for something to talk about. What follows… I didn’t expect.
“So what do you buys think about Marvel’s 20 year 45 movie plan, that shit is pretty nuts” – I said, knowing that everyone and their mother loves Marvel movies, and that’s as safe of a topic as can be.
The guy that gave me the cigarette asked me how geeky I was. I was sure that he was ready to talk my ear off about his interests, and I always welcome such conversations because I’m the exact same way, so I answer truthfully – “Really geeky about some stuff, not so much with other stuff. I’m not a hardcore comic book reader, I used to adore Spiderman comics as a teen, but at this point, the only back story I knew with Guardians of the Galaxy was that Rocket Raccoon was in a video game I really liked”.
He looked a little anxious. I didn’t know what to make of it. And then he said:
“What do you think about GamerGate”?
I answered truthfully.
“Quite honestly – I love it, I fully 100% support it, and I think it’s something that has long been overdue. In fact the…“. I didn’t get to finish my thought. The guy just turned around and walked away without saying a word, with an annoyed look on his face. No explanation, no disagreement, no attempt to explain his point of view or to further ask about mine. Nothing. He just walked away.
I have held a long list of beliefs over the course of my life – and I have had to explain all of them at some point. I have also changed my beliefs several times – and changed the beliefs of others. To me – no discussion was ever off limits. I was always prepared to hear other peoples opinions – because this is America – and the 1st Amendment to the constitution – yes – the FIRST – guarantees us freedom of speech, and that is how we all grow.
Of all the discussions, on all the topics I have ever had, controversial or not, I have NEVER had someone walk away from the conversation upon hearing my stance on something.
Until October 31, 2014.
And this is what we must understand about #GamerGate – this is more than just some “online controversy” – this is a battle against extreme authoritarianism, which in its own, is decidedly un-American. No matter who we are, and what we believe, we must at least be able to talk. Anti-Gamergate doesn’t think so.
I’m not going to sit here and lecture you about the merits of #GamerGate - lots of other people have already done a way better job than I ever could have. And you have the right to listen to them, or not, it’s your choice. But I want you to have this choice. That’s my philosophy that I stand by.
But I’ll leave you with this – is a side advocating for silence and blind obedience really the good guys? You decide.