Zoya Street and Aevee Bee on Discursive Violence

Zoya Street has a piece up at Medium with the subtitle “addressing peer hostility,” and it is about the ways that rage and violence, pushed through social media, marked and defined the past year. He does a great job of collating a number of posts by different people in the games community who have felt victimized by the flows of abuse that have shot through the small critical community around games seemingly unfettered over the past year.

Aevee Bee has a post up on the same topic, essentially arguing for an increased generosity toward one another across the board, and criticizing the tactical choices that a number of games critics and developers have chosen in the recent past.

I’m really making this post as a signal boost. Not only do I think that these posts need to be read as widely as possible, I think they need to be read together, one after another.

My own small addition to this is that I think Zoya is really onto something by taking a historical look at the term “tone policing,” and I think there is a lot to be gained by thinking through that with Aevee’s idea that “anger isn’t violence, violence isn’t anger.” Pairing those two concepts means that we should be looking at the field of discourse around games and make active decisions about what kind of behavior we want to see there and how that behavior can be different from what we’ve been enacting before. This is a moment where an immense dissatisfaction with the state of things should have all of us questioning the ways we are communicating. If widely adopted and defended tactics are having an opposite effect than their intended effects — if they’re disempowering rather than empowering — then we all need to change. I’m at the heart of this as much as anyone else is.

Spurred by these pieces, I’m going to make an active effort in the coming year to point out instances of bullying and violence that I see on twitter (and social media more generally). As I wrote a little while ago, I’m going to do it plainly: “You are being a bully.” This is a small act, but I think it might be important. I want to signal to people being shouted down, silenced, made afraid to speak, that there is someone seeing this and recognizing that they’re being treated poorly. Along with this, I’m going to refrain from this behavior myself. I’ve been working on for the past six months or so, but I’m tired of pile-ons and massive subtweeting or drive-by critiques of articles in 140 characters. I’m going to make an effort to be better.

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One Response to Zoya Street and Aevee Bee on Discursive Violence

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