I’ve mentioned in a few past entries that my internet home away from home is Cybre.Space. Cybre.Space is one of many “instances” that use the Mastodon software. I put that last sentence in there to try and clarify that “Mastodon” is not one singular social media site; the correct term for the inter-connection of instances is “The Fediverse.” Anyways, I’ve also mentioned my disdain at Wil Wheaton joining an instance, and trying to make himself at home. Which is exactly what he did.
A little background info: the reason myself, and a number of other people, all jumped on-board the fediverse was because of things like harassment and being no-platformed based solely on what we are. The fediverse boasts a large number of queer and trans users. The fediverse is an opportunity for us to try and rebuild ourselves; our names, reputations, and voices. Things that have been taken away on Twitter.
Years back, during Gamergate’s height, Randi Harper created a shared blocklist that was described as targeting the worst of the movement. Twitter’s staff certainly wasn’t going to ban them, so pre-emptively blocking them was the second best option. But then, it was discovered that this was not the case. The list she was passing around was her own personal blocklist. Harper is a registered Republican with a long documented history of hatred towards the transgender population. So in actuality, the “anti-GG” blocklist people were subscribing to was not to shut out a horde of screaming weirdos mad about video games, but rather trans people and their allies who were tired of being treated like shit. Now, while Randi’s list is not the first anti-trans blocklist out there, it is the largest, with the most reach. Even now, three years later, many trans people are still feeling the impact of their social circles being cut off, and opportunities to make a name and some money closed off before they could even get started. Some people, myself included, ended up getting doxxed over this whole thing.
Wil Wheaton used this list, and encouraged his million plus followers to also use it. When the anti-trans part was brought to his attention, he did nothing for a long time, then eventually came around to letting people know that he would personally unblock you on Twitter if you messaged him on his personal Tumblr account, which clearly makes up for everything, obviously. A number of people did, then found that they were blocked by him on Tumblr soon after. So it’s pretty easy to figure out that this was no accident, and that Wheaton absolutely has problems with trans people. And needless to say, between this, and his refusal to even comment on, let alone condemn, his friend Chris Hardwick over a number of abuse allegations raised against him, have not exactly endeared him to our community.
Fast forward to earlier this month, during the online strike against Twitter for its refusal to ban Alex Jones. Wheaton signed up for Mastodon. Now, he didn’t sign up for the “flagship” instance of Mastodon.Social. Or any instance that shows up on the fediverse. Rather, he joined an instance run by a guy who frequently deadnames Chelsea Manning, and wants to see her back in prison. An instance that will ban users from certain countries that “promote terrorism.” An instance so bad, it’s effectively banned from the fediverse at large (a number of alt-right instances are blocked from interacting with other instances at the admin/mod teams discretion). And then the first thing he did when got there was complain about how he couldn’t mute users on the federated timeline who didn’t speak English (a number of Mastodon instances exist within French and Japanese communities). So yeah, a guy with a reputation for transphobia and rape apologia showed up to an online service full of the same people he ran out in the first place, and acted like an entitled, racist idiot.
My initial take was to simply block and mute him, and encourage everyone else to do the same. This isn’t Twitter, he doesn’t hold the power to effectively silence an entire population here. He’s off on some shitty, alt-right instance far away from all of us. I maintained this position, even as he migrated to a less racist instance that does interact with the rest of us. As someone who has a 20+ page Kiwi Farms thread because of him, it wasn’t easy to maintain that position, and not proceed to digitally walk up to him and lay down the law. Of course, other people did, to the point that the admins of his instance felt like he wasn’t worth the hassle of keeping around. So he took his ball and cried about the mean trannies who bullied him.
And then The Verge, the same website that went to bat for an alt-right figurehead who should be in prison for rape, just so they could take a shot at me and Chelsea Manning (yeah, I’m as shocked as you are that I would ever be held remotely close to her esteem), sided with Wheaton. And now I’m starting that maybe Wheaton’s decision to move to Mastodon wasn’t so innocent.
Forgive me if I sound like a conspiracy theorist here, but given how it’s been revealed that there is a literal media conspiracy against trans people, I’ve learned to be a bit paranoid. Wil Wheaton more or less destroyed an entire social platform for a group that already faces a number of obstacles with making connections and earning an income in the first place, so he went to the site that they all had to migrate to thanks to him. And when he was predictably ran out by justifiably angry people, he could then run to the media and complain about how the harassment he faced from pissed off trans women was literally worse than the neo-nazis on Twitter. In essence, another platform for the same queer/trans people he clearly hates so much is now being looked at as a den of online abuse, akin to 4chan. We’re already being called “Woke Gamergate” by transphobes, and now we have to deal with the least liked Star Trek character fucking with us yet again. And I can’t help but feel like this was 100% his intention. I mean, his best friend is a rapist, and I can’t imagine the “respecting boundaries” apple falls far from that particular tree.
In conclusion: Shut up, Wesley. Please consider staying the fuck off the internet. Bazinga.