Trouble at the Koolaid Point

October 7, 2014

 

[Note: I didn't want to have to write this. But here it is. I'm not linking it to the blog, and it won't likely stay up long *(*Update Oct. 8** I'll be taking it down soon, but a copy has been placed on Wired** ) It is long and rambling and unedited and one of the few things I've written that I wrote mostly for myself. It is all I ever hope to have to say about it. Also? Content warning.]

This month is the 10-year anniversary of my first online threat. I thought it was a one-off, then. Just one angry guy. And it wasn’t really THAT bad. But looking back, it was the canary in the coal mine… the first hint that if I kept on this path, it would not end well. And what was that path? We’ll get to that in a minute.

Later I learned that the first threat had nothing to do with what I actually made or said in my books, blog posts, articles, and conference presentations. The real problem — as my first harasser described — was that others were beginning to pay attention to me. He wrote as if mere exposure to my work was harming his world. 

But here’s the key: it turned out he wasn’t outraged about my work. His rage was because, in his mind, my work didn’t deserve the attention. Spoiler alert: “deserve” and “attention” are at the heart.

A year later, I wrote a light-hearted article about “haters” (the quotes matter) and something I called The Koolaid Point. It wasn’t about harassment, abuse, or threats against people but about the kind of brand “trolls” you find in, say, Apple discussion forums. My wildly non-scientific theory was this: the most vocal trolling and “hate” for a brand kicks in HARD once a critical mass of brand fans/users are thought to have “drunk the Koolaid”. In other words, the hate wasn’t so much about the product/brand but that other people were falling for it. 

I was delighted, a few weeks’ later, to see my little “Koolaid Point” in Wired’s Jargon Watch column. 

The me of 2005 had no idea what was coming.

Less than two years later, I’d learn that my festive take on harmless brand trolling also applied to people. And it wasn’t festive. Or harmless. Especially for women. 

I now believe the most dangerous time for a woman with online visibility is the point at which others are seen to be listening, “following”, “liking”, “favoriting”, retweeting. In other words, the point at which her readers have (in the troll’s mind) “drunk the Koolaid”. Apparently, that just can’t be allowed. 

From the hater’s POV, you (the Koolaid server) do not “deserve” that attention. You are “stealing” an audience. From their angry, frustrated point of view, the idea that others listen to you is insanity. From their emotion-fueled view you don’t have readers you have cult followers. That just can’t be allowed. 

You must be stopped. And if they cannot stop you, they can at least ruin your quality of life. A standard goal, in troll culture, I soon learned, is to cause “personal ruin”. They aren’t all trolls, though. Some of those who seek to stop and/or ruin you are misguided/misinformed but well-intended. They actually believe in a cause, and they believe you (or rather the Koolaid you’re serving) threatens that cause. 

But the Koolaid-Point-driven attacks are usually started by  (speculating, educated guess here, not an actual psychologist, etc) sociopaths. They’re doing it out of pure malice, “for the lulz.” And those doing it for the lulz are masters at manipulating public perception. Master trolls can build an online army out of the well-intended, by appealing to The Cause (more on that later). The very best/worst trolls can even make the non-sociopaths believe "for the lulz" is itself a noble cause. 

But I actually got off easy, then. Most of the master trolls weren’t active on Twitter in 2007. Today, they, along with their friends, fans, followers, and a zoo of anonymous sock puppet accounts are. The time from troll-has-an-idea to troll-mobilizes-brutal-assault has shrunk from weeks to minutes. Twitter, for all its good, is a hate amplifier. Twitter boosts signal power with head-snapping speed and strength. Today, Twitter (and this isn’t a complaint about Twitter, it’s about what Twitter enables) is the troll’s best weapon for attacking you. And by “you”, I mean “you the server of Koolaid.” You who must be stopped.

It begins with simple threats. You know, rape, dismemberment, the usual. It’s a good place to start, those threats, because you might simply vanish once those threats include your family. Mission accomplished. But today, many women online — you women who are far braver than I am — you stick around. And now, since you stuck around through the first wave of threats, you are now a much BIGGER problem. Because the Worst Possible Thing has happened: as a result of those attacks, you are NOW serving Victim-Flavored Koolaid. 

And Victim-Flavored Koolaid is the most dangerous substance on earth, apparently. And that just can’t be allowed. 

There is only one reliably useful weapon for the trolls to stop the danger you pose and/or to get max lulz: discredit you. The disinformation follows a pattern so predictable today it’s almost dull: first, you obviously “fucked” your way into whatever role enabled your undeserved visibility. I mean..duh. A woman. In tech. Not that there aren’t a few deserving women and why can’t you be more like THEM but no, you are NOT one of them. 

You are, they claim, CLEARLY “a whore”. But not the sex-worker kind, no, you are the Bad Kind of Whore. Actually TWO kinds:  an Attention/Fame Whore and an Actual Have Sex In Exchange For Jobs, Good Reviews, Book Deals Whore. I mean, could there be ANY other explanation for your visibility? But the sex-not-merit meme is just their warm-up, the lowest-hanging-fruit in a discredit/disinfo campaign.

Because what the haters MOST want the world to know is this: what you’re serving your audience? It’s NOT EVEN ACTUAL KOOLAID. “Snake oil”, the trolls insist. You’re a “proven liar”. Or, as I was referred to yet again just yesterday by my favorite troll/hater/harasser: “a charlatan”. And there is “evidence”. There is always "evidence". (there isn't, of course, but let’s not let that get in the way.)

And the trolls aren’t stupid. The most damaging troll/haters are some of the most powerful people (though they self-describe as outcasts). Typically, the hacker trolls are technically-talented, super smart white men. They’re not just hackers. They are social engineers. They understand behavioral psych. They know their Kahneman. They “get” memes. They exploit a vulnerability in the brains of your current and potential listeners.

How? By unleashing a mind virus guaranteed to push emotional buttons for your real, NOT-troll audience. In my specific case, it was my alleged threat to a free and open internet. “She issued DMCA takedowns for sites that criticized her.” Yes, that one even made it’s way into a GQ magazine article not long ago, when the writer Sanjiv Bhattacharya interviewed weev and asked about — get this — the “ethics” of doxxing me. Weev's explanation was just one more leveling up in my discredit/disinfo program: DMCA takedowns. I had, apparently, issued DMCA takedowns.

If you are in the tech world, issuing a DMCA takedown is worse than kicking puppies off a pier. But what I did? It was (according to the meme) much much worse. I did it (apparently) to stifle criticism. If a DMCA takedown is kicking puppies, doing it to “stifle criticism” is like single-handedly causing the extinction of puppies, kittens, and the constitution. Behold my awesome and terrible power. Go me.

But here’s the thing. I never did that. I never did anything even a teeny tiny nano bit like that. But sure enough, even on my last day on Twitter, there it was again: Kathy did DMCA’s. And it wasn’t even a troll saying it, it was another woman in tech who believed the meme because she believed weev. Because in twisted troll logic, it makes sense. She must have done something pretty awful to deserve what, according to weev, “she had coming.”

After the GQ story came out, the one where weev “justified” the harassment of me by introducing the DMCA fiction, I asked him about it on Twitter. “Where, seriously, where exactly did I ever issue a DMCA?” His answer?  Oh, right, he didn’t have an answer. Because it didn’t happen. But see? he doesn't have to. He's already launched the Kathy-does-DMCA-takedowns meme. Evidence not required. For that matter, common sense not required.

(For the record, far as most people have been able to determine, most of what happened to me long ago was triggered by a blog comment I made that said “I’m not moderating my blog comments, but I support those who do and here’s why.” That’s right, Blog. Comment. Moderation. Just a tiny hop, really, from that to full-blown DMCA takedowns. Easy mistake.)

For me, the hot button to rally the army (including the Good People) against me was my (totally fictional) legal threat to freedom. But there are so many other hot buttons to use against women in tech. So. Many.

A particularly robust troll-crafted hot button meme today is that some women are out to destroy video games (shoutout to #gamergaters). Another is that they are taking jobs from men. Men who are, I mean obviously, more deserving. “If women/minorities/any oppressed group are given special treatment, that’s not equality,” they argue “I guess you don’t believe in equality, feminists.” Quickly followed by, “wait, did I say ‘oppressed group’? There’s no such thing as an oppressed group I just meant Professional Victims Who Pretend To Be Oppressed And Serve Social Justice Warrior Koolaid.”

Life for women in tech, today, is often better the less visible they are. Less visible means fewer perceived Koolaid drinkers. 


THE GAME IS FIXED

I’m not sure I like comparing trolls to animals (because insulting to animals), but as an animal trainer, I’m painfully aware of the power of operant conditioning. Yes, sure, “don’t feed the trolls” has been the standard advice, a bullshit talking point propagated by trolls to blame their targets. “You brought this on. You don’t want this? Don’t engage.”  Except that’s not actually true. It’s the opposite of true, once you’ve been personally targeted.

As any parent of a two-year old can tell you, ignoring the child usually leads to escalation. Cry harder, scream louder, and in the most desperate scenarios, become destructive. Anything to get the attention they crave. Simply moving on is not an option for the haters once you’ve been labeled a Koolaid server and/or a rich source of lulz. Ignore them, and the trolls cry harder, scream louder, and become destructive. 

If you’ve already hit the Koolaid Piont, you usually have just three choices:

1. leave (They Win) 

2. ignore them (they escalate, make your life more miserable, DDoS, ruin your career, etc. i.e. They Win

3. fight back (If you’ve already hit the Koolaid Point, see option #2. They Win).

That’s right, in the world we’ve created, once you’ve become a Koolaid-point target they always win. Your life will never be the same, and the harassers will drain your scarce cognitive resources. You and your family will never be the same. 

The hater trolls are looking for their next dopamine hit. If you don’t provide it, they’ll try harder. But the escalation to get a response from you? That’s not even the worst escalation problem.

The more dangerous social-web-fueled gamification of trolling is the unofficial troll/hate leader-board. The attacks on you are often less about scoring points against you than that they’re trying to out-do one another. They’re trying to out-troll, out-hate, out-awful the other trolls. That’s their ultimate goal. He who does the worst wins.

Which may explain the slow, steady increase in both frequency and horror of online harassment. What was mostly drive-by nasty comments in 2001 then progressed to Photoshopped images (your child on a porn image is a particularly “fun” one), and what’s after images? Oh, yeah, the “beat up Anita” game. And what’s left when you’ve done as much digital damage as you can?

Real-life damage. 

Doxxing with calls to action (that — and trust me on this — people DO act on). 

Swatting (look it up). That nobody has yet been killed in one of these “pranks” is surprising. It’s just a matter of time. 

Physical Assualt: the online attack on the epilepsy forums, where the trolls crafted flickering images at a frequency known to trigger seizures in those with “photosensitive” epilepsy. Think about this. People went to the one safe space they knew online — the epilepsy support forums — and found themselves having seizures before they could even look away. (Nobody was ever charged.)

Side note: I have epilepsy, though not the photosensitive kind. But I have a deep understanding of the horror of seizures, and the dramatically increased chance of death and brain damage many of us with epilepsy live with, in my case, since the age of 4. FYI, deaths related to epilepsy in the US are roughly equal with deaths from breast cancer. There isn’t a shred of doubt in my mind that if the troll hackers could find a way to increase your risk of breast cancer? They’d do it. Because what’s better than lulz? Lulz with BOOBS. Yeah, they’d do it.

But what disturbed me even more than the epilepsy forum attack itself were the comments about it afterwards (I won’t link to it, but you can search for it on Wired). “I lol’d”  “That’s awful, but you gotta admit… hilarious!”  Once again, high-fives all around. This is the world we have created. 

So I don’t have the luxury of assuming “it’s just online. Not REAL. It's not like these people would ever do anything in the real world .” And what you don’t hear much about is what most targeted women find the most frightening of all: the stalkerish energy, time, effort, focus on… YOU. The drive-by hate/threat comment, no matter how vile, is just that, a comment that took someone 2.5 seconds to think and execute. It might be annoying, offensive, maybe intimidating the first few times. But you get used to those, after all, it’s not like somebody put time and effort into it.

But Photoshopped images? Stories drawn from your own work? There’s a creepy and invasive horror knowing someone is pouring over your words, doing Google and Flickr image searches to find the perfect photo to manipulate. That someone is using their time and talent to write code even, about you. That’s not trolling, that’s obsession. That’s the point where you know it’s not really even about the Koolaid now…they’re obsessed with you. 

This is a very long way from the favorite troll talking point “Oh boohoo someone was mean on the internet.” 

Mean: “You’re fat and retarded and deserve to be raped”. (we all get tons of those, but those aren't what we're talking about)

Stalking:  “Here’s yet another creepy and terrifying thing I made for you and about you and notice just how much I know about you…” (1/200)

There is a difference. 

We need to stop propagating the troll-driven meme that “it’s all just trollin’ and boohoo mean words you should cry more” and start making the hard, fine-grained distinctions. The hater trolls use the 'just trollin’ and 'just mean words' to minimize even the worst attacks and gaslight their targets. In hater troll framing, there’s no difference between a single tweet and a DDoS of your employer’s website. There’s no difference between a “you’re a histrionic charlatan” and “here’s a headless corpse and you are next and here’s your address.”  It's all just trollin' and mean words and not real life.

It’s all ‘just trollin’ unless you, you know, actually deserved it. Then they're all, “sure, things got a little out of hand, and threats of violence are never acceptable but, um, what did you expect?” Followed by, “Well actually, if it WERE actual HARASSMENT, then it’s for The Authorities.”

Fun Troll Logic:

IF no legal action happens
THEN it wasn’t actually "real” harassment

You’re probably more likely to win the lottery than to get any law enforcement agency in the United States to take action when you are harassed online, no matter how viscously and explicitly. Local agencies lack the resources, federal agencies won’t bother. (Unless you’re a huge important celebrity. But the rules are always different for them. But trolls are quite happy to attack people who lack the resources to do anything about it. Troll code totally supports punching DOWN.)

There IS no “the authorities” that will help us.

We are on our own. 

And if we don’t take care of one another, nobody else will.

We are all we’ve got.

Which brings me to why I really wrote this.


WHY I CAME BACK

Most of the back-story is not important, and I hope to never have to talk about it again, but here’s the relevant bits:

In 2007, I was the target of a several-week long escalating harassment campaign that culminated in my being doxxed (a word I didn’t even know then) with a long, detailed, explicit document, posted pretty much everyone on the internet (including multiple times to my own wikipedia entry). It was a sort of open letter with a sordid (but mostly fictional) account that included my past, my career, my family, and wrapped up with my (unfortunately NOT fictional) social security number, former home address and, worst of all — a call to action for people to send things to me. They did. I never returned to my blog, I cut out almost all speaking engagements, and rarely appeared anywhere in the tech world online or real world. Basically, that was it for me. I had no desire then to find out what comes after doxxing, especially not with a family, and I had every reason to believe this would continue to escalate if I didn’t, well, stop “serving the Koolaid.”

A year later, I had one of the worst days of my life. I got a phone call from a journalist, Mattathias Schwartz. He’d been working on a long-form feature magazine story about trolls for the NY Times, and it was about to come out. He wanted to warn me about something in the story, something nobody expected: one of the main subjects of his story had just — out of the blue — announced that he was “Memphis Two” the author of That Document (i.e. my dox) and added that he was part of the harassment of Kathy Sierra.

I sat down. “I’ve never heard of this person. Am I in any danger?”  He gave me the only truthful answer, “I don’t know.”  But then he added, “I don’t think so, because honestly I don’t think he sees you as important at all.” So, whew. He was right. I was not important. And after all, they’d already put checkmark in the WIN column for me. I was gone. I’d not be serving any more Koolaid. Nothing to see here, etc.

And there I hoped it would end, fading away as all things do as the internet moves on and this troll I’d never heard of would just go back to whatever it was that trolls do.

But you all know what happened next. Something something something horrifically unfair government case against him and just like that, he becomes tech’s “hacktivist hero.” He now had A Platform not just in the hacker/troll world but in the broader tech community I was part of. And we’re not just talking stories and interviews in Tech Crunch and HuffPo (and everywhere else), but his own essays in those publications. A tech industry award. His status was elevated, his reach was broadened. And for reasons I will never understand, he suddenly had gained not just status and Important Friends, but also “credibility”. 

Did not see that coming.

But hard as I tried to find a ray of hope that the case against him was, somehow, justified and that he deserved, somehow, to be in prison for this, oh god I could not find it. I could not escape my own realization that the cast against him was wrong. So wrong. And not just wrong, but wrong in a way that puts us all at risk. I wasn’t just angry about the injustice of his case, I had even begun to feel sorry for him. Him. The guy who hates me for lulz. Guy who nearly ruined my life. But somehow, even I had started to buy into his PR. That's just how good the spin was. Even I mistook the sociopath for a misunderstood outcast. Which, I mean, I actually knew better. 

And of course I said nothing until his case was prosecuted and he’d been convicted, and there was no longer anything I could possibly do to hurt his case. A small group of people — including several of his other personal victims (who I cannot name, obviously) asked me to write to the judge before his sentencing, to throw my weight/story into the “more reasons why weev should be sent to prison”. I did not. Last time, for the record, I did NOTHING but support weev’s case, and did not speak out until after he’d been convicted.

But the side-effect of so many good people supporting his case was that more and more people in tech came to also… like him.  And they all seemed to think that it was All Good as long as they punctuated each article with the obligatory “sure, he’s an ass” or “and yes, he’s a troll” or “he’s known for offending people” (which are, for most men, compliments). In other words, they took the Worst Possible Person, as one headline read, and still managed to reposition him as merely a prankster, a trickster, a rascal. And who doesn’t like a “lovable scoundrel”? 

So I came back because I saw what was happening.

I came back because I connected these dots:

* Weev writes an explicit warning to all women in tech that speaking out (in his words "squealing like a stuck pig") will be "punished". 

* Weev demonstrates this by punishing a woman that was, for better or worse, a role model for some in the already-way-too-small group of women in tech.

* Weev then becomes celebrated in tech, spun as a straight-talking, no bullshit, asshole who speaks truth to power. Truth. Weev. Is. About. Truth. And Privacy. Ours. He wanted to protect Our Privacy with The Truth. 

(If you want an example of gaslighting, imagine how I felt watching this unfold)

* And there it is. I came because if weev is credible, and endorsed as a “friend”, then the document he, at the least, ENTHUSIASTICALLY CONTINUES TO ENDORSE, is... well what does this mean?

I came back because I believe this sent a terrible, devastating message about what was acceptable. Because nobody in a position of power and influence in the tech world ever, NOT ONCE, brought up the explicit threats in that document, except for The Verge. (Tim Carmody, Greg Sandoval, you are my heroes). 

I came back and watched endless streams of funny, casual, online banter between weev and some of those I respected and trusted most in tech. You know who I mean. I watched him being retweeted into my stream in a positive way. I actually did lol, though, when Twitter’s algorithm kept insisting You Probably Want To Follow Him! That’s how much our Venn diagrams overlapped.

But the one thing I never expected was that after all these years, he’d suddenly deny it. Even more so, that reasonable, logical, intelligent people would actually believe this. He’d suddenly, after 6 years, claim that a world-class, international, Livingston-winner (“Pulitzer of the Young”) journalist would just somehow… come up with that.  And that in six years it never occurred to weev, not once, to publicly deny it no matter how many times he was asked about it.

(Schwartz himself came into these conversations more than once over the past year to remind weev about their conversation, to confirm that yes, it happened exactly as he described in the 2008 feature. Not that it made a difference. After all, in weev vs. amazing writer with everything to lose by lying, who are you going with? Weev. They went with weev.)

As I said in a now-deleted Twitter exchange, I couldn’t imagine “what sort of suspension of disbelief” one needs to accept a context in which a journalist who has never heard of me, somehow pulls MY name and that document out of thin air, then somehow mistakenly attributes it to the object of his story. Or that why, in all those years, weev never once publicly tried to refute this? He even wrote a response to the NYTimes story (the story where he outs himself as the doxxer) on his own blog, where he takes issue with several aspects of the article but never disputes the facts, and never even hints that weev-as-my-doxxer was inaccurate.

And he's been asked about it many times over the next years, including that GQ interview where he explained his reasons for doing it. Never once, until I returned, did he ever publicly deny it. The NYTimes article stands, for 6 years, without correction or challenges. Weev of course now claims he wrote to the NYTimes, but has never produced, you know, “evidence”. 

So there I was, now having unbelievable conversations with prominent people in tech that were more willing to believe the most absurd story over, well, one of the most respected journalists still left in the world. That they were willing to believe weev over... common sense. Logic. That they had the fantasy belief that though weev was known to be one of the most skillful and manipulative liars (and that description is from a friend of his), somehow, he wasn't lying now, to them. I pushed back, but only if it was someone in the tech world who was not a troll, but an intelligent, rational, reasonable, person. 

I underestimated the willingness of people to still, no matter what, believe him.

But recently I came to realize that OK let's say we do suspend disbelief and let’s say he didn’t do it. Let's say he simply wanted people to think he'd done it. That doesn't actually change it.

Because the problem, the reason I came back is this:

Weev unequivocally, enthusiastically, gleefully, repeatedly ENDORSED it. He tweeted, many times, that I “had it coming”. I deserved it. That the “truth” in my dox was why I left the internet the first time. 

And so again, I connect these dots:

* A document issues an explicit threat, warning women against speaking out. Lots and lots of women in tech have seen this document.

* Weev endorses this document, enthusiastically, repeatedly.

* Prominent people in tech endorse weev

Which could easily be seen as…

* Prominent people in tech tacitly endorsed that threat against speaking out.

Some of those people are/were feminists. I cannot even comprehend the cognitive dissonance.

THAT’s why I wanted to push back. Every. Single. Time. If someone described me, or the article about me as a lie, (as @erratarob did on my last day) I stepped in to do what I thought was the most rational approach: to just keep pointing to the facts that were known. To push back on the twist and spin. I believed the fine-grained distinctions mattered. I pushed back because I believed I was pushing back on the implicit message that women would be punished for speaking out. I pushed back because almost nobody else was, and it seemed like so many people in tech were basically OK with that. 

But a few days ago, in the middle of one of those “discussions”, this time with @erratarob, I realized it wasn’t worth it. He concluded that I was just trolling so people would troll me back. I asked him what he thought I should have done. And his answer was “don’t feed the trolls.”  “Ignore it and move on.” Perhaps Rob didn’t know that I'd already tried that for six years, but that it was weev who kept that damn thing alive no matter how gone I was. He managed to tweet to my social security number not long before he went to prison, and well before I resurfaced. No, I didn't troll him into that. I didn't "engage".

But Rob didn’t do anything wrong. He was saying what he truly believes. What, sadly, a whole lot of people in tech believe. Rob just happened to be the last “you asked for it” message I wanted to hear. So I just stopped.

I didn’t “rage quit”, I just walked away. I shut off a big cognitive resource leak. From the beginning of my time tweeting as Seriouspony, that I tweeted I was not likely to stay and that I was looking forward to where we would end up next. I’m not GONE gone. I’m just not on Twitter. But I have to add I'm not surprised to see my leaving Twitter framed as, once again, an example of someone who "just shouldn't be on the internet". Because nothing says "unbalanced" like having the freedom to walk away from a social media network. Because you can. Because you have a choice. Because you have the most beautiful and awesome ponies on the planet.

WHAT NEXT?

No idea. But I do think we need more options for online spaces, and I hope one of those spaces allows the kind of public conversations and learning we had on Twitter but where women — or anyone — does not feel an undercurrent of fear watching her follower count increase. Where there’s no such thing as The Koolaid Point. And I also know the worst possible approach would be more aggressive banning, or restricting speech (especially not that), or restricting anonymity. I don’t think Twitter needs to (or even can, at this point) do anything at all. I think we need to do something.

We can do this. I know we can. And many of you — especially you javaranchers — you know why I’m so certain. You’ve seen a million visitors a month in a male-dominated community year after year after year maintain a culture defined by a single TOS: be nice. You’ve seen how learning thrives in an environment where you can be fearless with questions and generous with answers. If millions of programmers can maintain one of the largest and most vibrant developer communities online, for 15 years, without harassment of any kind, then anyone can. Good luck trying to convince me it can’t be done. Because I have something the trolls do not— evidence.

If you made it this far, I cannot possibly express how grateful I am for the wonderful experiences I had during the time I was on Twitter as Seriouspony. The appreciation for the horses made my heart sing. And those of you who have ever talked with me there, or sent me pony pictures, or ever sent me a message or spoken to me at a conference about what you learned from me, you have done more for me than you will ever know.

And I miss you all right now. I miss hearing the stories about your life and your work and your thoughts and your pets, especially your pets. But again, it's not like I'm GONE gone. 

After all, the ponies have only just begun to learn to code...

When I know where they’ll be, you will be the first to know :)  And when you all find a new space, that feels right, I know you will let me know.

<3,   Seriouspony


[footnote-I-wish-I-didn’t-have-to-add: it’s been brought to my attention that my complaints about weev’s dox of me were apparently (and bizarrely) twisted to suggest I thought prostitution and being a victim of domestic violence were somehow “shameful.” That THIS must be the reason I didn’t want that narrative out there. First, that’s, well, I don’t even. Second, OMG you have no idea what I and my children have experienced in our lives so please, let go of the “Kathy hates that dox therefore Kathy hates prostitutes and victims of domestic violence. You know nothing of my life, so please stop imagining you know what I think, feel, or have been through. Quit trying to shoehorn me into a she-must-have-deserved-it-see-she-is-a-bad-person narrative. My reasons for not wanting a false backstory about my children to be publicized by a prominent troll has nothing at all to do with “shame” and everything to do with “actual truth”. Because even if you believe I deserved to be doxxed, the story of my children was not weev’s to tell (or let's say it was not up to the person-pretending-to-be-weev-that-weev-thinks-did-this-awesome-thing-to-me)]



[Update October 11: at the time I wrote this, I was aware of "drinking the koolaid" as a figure of speech. And given the influence of Tom Wolfe's book about Ken Kesey and The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test, as I was growing up, I had always assumed that was the origin. I apologize for not taking greater care in researching the history of this phrase. I chose this phrase precisely because it's the one I've seen used most often by trolls in this context, and their intent is to offend, insult, discredit, and harm. But my use of it in this way minimizes the terrible tragedy to which the phrase was later applied. Again, I apologize.]

[Update October 10: some of what I describe in this post is happening right this moment for game developer @spacekatgal who is leaving her home tonight following a string of rape and death threat tweets including one with her address, coming in the midst of an already overwhelming online attack she’s been battling for quite some time.]

[Update October 10: I'm not coming back to Twitter. So please, those who want to show support, do it by discussing solutions, ideas, the kind of tools and communities you'd like to see, etc.  Now, as for pony pics, I'll be posting them on Exposure.]