After looking at wave after wave of internet justice, viral stories of the abused, I can’t help but wonder – is there anyone having fun in this “friendly and supportive” community of, say, allies of women in STEM? Or is it just a sad place full of people who’ve been treated unfair? Certainly people who got a job, e.g. popularizing science, creating empowering women images etc. are having a lot of fun with their creativity. Some of the internet shaming walls are making fun out of the abusers, which probably makes someone happy as well. But for me somehow, the interaction with the women-allies community did not have any particularly fun episodes. The shaming walls are entertaining, but just as much as they are cruel and blind. I’ve participated in some of the “girl-scientist” projects, where we did fun things to interest them in science. That was a very good experience, but somehow you need to be a special kind of person to enjoy working with kids. For ordinary folks, it’s exhausting! Also, it’s a little bit besides the point, because obviously the girls themselves didn’t know that we were making this event because feminists told us so. We never explained to them how they should become empowered as soon as the classroom stops pushing them into their gender roles. So this event never mentioned anything about underrepresentation of women in STEM, much less about issues of harassment. It was just a fun event, but technically we cannot call it a part of what is “feminist subculture”.
I’d like to point out that reading viral news can be addictive. Everyone of us has an offense-seeker inside, and a very fine sense of justice for people on the other side of the globe that we never knew existed. So every time the news mention something about an offensive statement of a politician, or a harassment scandal – we click, not expecting that much fun, but expecting gratification of our disturbed sense of justice. One can compare reading viral diversity news to cigarettes – few of the smokers would say cigarettes are fun, but surely they bring momentarily satisfaction.
Are educational meetings fun? The ones where the concepts of consent are explained to clueless audience, and such. For a sensitive person, they may inhibit your communication skill completely, as you’re afraid to get into a story. But if you are a little bit more tough, then they might be a good place to meet social justice-minded people. But not a good place to argue with them. Whatever the modern political correctness is, if you think it’s a good idea to point out inconsistencies in it to the authorities who enforce it, it’s not. It won’t be a very good experience for you to get into that argument, mostly because that same authority figures get a lot of outlandish accusations, so even if your suggestion is constructive and useful, they are likely to discard your opinion as just another troll’s.
But if you actually have a troll friend, it may be a good idea to bring him in one of those meetings and enjoy the mess and anger that he causes. I personally never enjoyed trolling, but it’s always nice to feed a friend a tasty meal. Be aware, though, that as much as there are tough-skinned people, there are also actual victims around. If someone is actually getting hurt by words, maybe it’s better to tell your friend to shut up.