A couple years ago I turned on Twitter to read my feed and realized I hadn’t seen a post from Wil Wheaton in a while. He was one of the first celebrities I followed, first because I enjoyed Star Trek as a teen, and secondly because I enjoyed his writing. So I found it dismaying to go to his feed and discover I had been blocked.
I soon realized this was a thing, and that he blocked 20k+ people who he termed as trolls.
Me? A troll?
For a moment I tried to think of a reason I had been blocked, and then promptly forgot about it since it wasn’t that important. I hadn’t spoken to him, and while I found his content funny or interesting at times, it really didn’t make a huge difference. I stopped following his content, watching his YouTube, or buying his books, and found other authors who hadn’t blocked me.
But there was a consequence to him blocking me that I didn’t learn until later. You see Mr. Wheaton didn’t just block 20k+ people. He put out a block bot so that others could block them as well. Hundreds of people blocking me just because someone decided I was undesirable without even speaking to me.
What could I have done to be labled undesirable? Perhaps it was my insistence that wearing sexy armor in video games isn’t sexist, and can even be empowering for women. Mr Wheaton posts a lot of Suicide Girl content so you would think he’d agree with that.
Perhaps it was my insistence that as a survivor of rape and abuse I didn’t have to live as a victim, and others could be helped to stop letting their past dictate who they are, and instead take control of their life. Heaven knows at least one ‘friend’ ditched me after I said that to him.
Maybe it was because I follow many people labled ‘deplorable’, as well as those from the other side because I do not want to be part of an echo chamber. I want to see why others feel the way they do, and learn from that. I want to love my enemies, and give them fewer reasons to be my enemy. I want to be a shining example of what I always thought a good person would be. (Not that I’m always good at that part, but I try.) And to me being a good person always meant accepting people where they were, and trying to encourage them, not tear them down.
Maybe it’s because I was outspoken about my disagreements with Anita Sarkisian who saw sexism in everything, even Mario rescuing Peach. But you know what I think of when I see damsel in distress tropes? I think of my boyfriend who helped me cope with my social anxiety, who held my hand to steady me when I wanted to run from the room, who pushed me to run after my dreams instead of being afraid of them. Rescuing damsels isn’t just about blowing up bad guys and storming the castle, it’s about being a rock in the storm. A safety net. A partner. And my boyfriend definitely rescued me, many times.
Whatever reason Mr Wheaton decided to block me, that’s fine. But it saddens me that his judgment has been substituted for others. They blindly download his block list and do not make a choice for themselves, they allow the choice to be made for them.
I have been cut off from a segment of society that has decided the echo chamber is better. No opinion outside theirs is okay, and anyone who disagrees is banished.
Maybe not a bad thing to be cut off from, it sounds incredibly stifling. But a bad trend in general. Echo chambers can never survive because no two people think exactly alike in all things. Eventually they break down.
And yet, other than being cut off from a few people, Mr Wheaton’s block list has not hurt my life. I guess it doesn’t really matter in the end.