'Never cruel or cowardly. Never give up, never give in.'
I'm considering getting those words on a shirt - or possibly as a plaque to hang on my wall - because not only are they spoken by one of geekdom's flagship idols, The Doctor, but because of what they represent. The name, 'The Doctor', was the name he chose for himself, and that name was a promise, and that promise was those words up there. A man's entire life, his entire being, his morals and ethics and choices and goals and methods, all summed up in those words. As a huge fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, WarCraft, StarCraft, Diablo, Elder Scrolls, Minecraft, Legend of Zelda, Mario, Lord of the Rings, DC, Marvel, Half-Life, Portal, Halo, and.... and the list just goes on and on and on, I like to think myself as a member of the geek community at large. As a member of geek culture. And I've always been proud of that.
And there's a lot to be proud of. With idols and heroes like Picard and Kirk, The Doctor, Captain America, Batman and Superman... how could we go wrong? I don't think it's wrong to confess that I look up to these characters; I don't think it's corny to admit that a lot of my outlook on life was based on things said by Captain Picard, or things done Superman. This is where geek culture finds itself possessing an embarrassment of riches not really found in any other subculture; heroes to idolize are plentiful and varied.Never cruel or cowardly.
With such a quantity of great men and women to look to for guidance, you might think that geek culture is kind and accepting, just and righteous. You might think that geeks would stand up for what is right, that we as a group might say to the world: no, that's not just or fair, and we won't stand for it. You might think a fan of The Doctor would try to emulate him, or that a fan of Superman might hold to his ideals. I certainly thought those things.
And I was wrong. I was shocked and saddened last month, to see geek culture - my
culture - behaving in a manner that was very cruel and cowardly indeed. If you haven't yet guessed (and wisely fled from this post as fast as you can) I'm referring to the so-called 'Quinnspiracy'.
Now, let me get something out of the way right now. I am not defending her actions, nor will I ever do so. But the actions that really bear scrutiny - the truly telling deeds that were done that day - were by the geek community, the gamer community. And they did not tell a good story.Never cruel or cowardly.
They told a story of people - thousands upon thousands of people - who worked together to unleash a campaign of terror and punishment, the scale of which I have never seen applied to serial killers
. They told of hundreds of people who thought a worthy use of their time was to call this woman, call her friends, call her family, and shriek awful obscenities and make horrifying threats. They told of hordes of rampaging, furious, uncaring geeks
who were perfectly okay doing their very best to destroy this woman's life because of some allegations made by her bitter ex-boyfriend (many of which have been found to be false - shockingly, bitter ex-boyfriends are not
unbiased sources of information).
In the weeks that followed, in the fallout that ensued, I found myself frightened - terrified
- by the culture I once thought of as my home. People who defended her were attacked, their personal information posted. Anyone who dared imply that maybe they were overreacting a little found themselves targeted by a violent, digital lynch mob. Is that what we, as geeks, do? Viciously try to destroy anyone who disagrees with us, or dares to get in our way?
For a group that is supposed to idolize The Doctor, or the Avengers, or the crew of the Enterprise... on those days, I didn't see a whisper, or a hint, of any of these heroes in geek culture. There was no Doctor, no Avengers, no Enterprise. What did I see? I saw Daleks, fueled by hatred and out to destroy... something, anything. I saw a horde of rampaging Ultron robots, bent on nothing less than the total extermination of their target. I saw the Borg, relentless and wholly without mercy.Never cruel or cowardly.
I doubt I will ever completely trust my fellow geeks again. On that day, my culture revealed itself for what it truly was; a culture that, when given the choice between being the Doctor and being a Dalek, overwhelmingly chose to be a Dalek.
And you may be saying now, that's not fair, they were a vocal minority! Most of us didn't say or do anything!
And you're exactly right. Most of you did nothing. Did nothing, and said nothing, and just let it happen. And that's almost worse.
Some of you are about to accuse me of being a 'white knight'. I don't mind telling you: the culture here, specifically on deviantART? It's absolutely disgusting. It horrifies me. The derision, and mockery, and outright hatred between artists is staggering - and none are more snidely derided than the 'white knight', the one who steps in to try and defend someone being attacked.
If the choice is between being a 'white knight', and whatever the hell you are, attacking and mocking and encouraging suicide in your fellow artists, I'll take white knight, thanks. Without hesitation or doubt, white knight, every time.
(original image can be found here.)
So what am I saying? What am I getting at?
I will always try to live my life as the best person I can be. Day in, day out, I will always strive to be ethical, and generous, and helpful, and caring, and never, ever, cruel or cowardly. But I think it's high time I stop being the only one, and if I'm not the only one (and I know
I'm not), then it's time for those others to make themselves known, to make themselves heard. Silence is not a means of staying out of the issue; silence is a choice, a choice to allow abuse and death threats and vicious campaigns of digital terror to continue. I will not
allow my culture to be hijacked by those who dare
call themselves geeks, while blatantly ignoring everything
geek culture should mean.
The next you see the Daleks coming, don't join them. Don't turn away. Fight them. Be the Doctor, and fight them