This week there was an academic event at Sunderland University, that included discussions about the role of social media in academia and teaching. That is a subject I am very interested in. So I took part on twitter in the discussions relating to it, on the Sunderland Uni hashtag #uoslec2012
One of the points I made, was the importance in this field of the work of American academics and ‘social media theorists’ Nathan Jurgenson and PJ Rey. Their blog, Cyborgology is one of the most inspiring things I have read and engaged with recently. You can read more here:
However one of the academics, and one of Pink News’ ‘top 50 LGBT influential tweeters’ of 2011, Chris Ashford, did not welcome my contributions to the hashtag or the discussions. To his 4,000 followers on twitter, many of whom are academics he tweeted:
‘I would ask anyone getting messages from @Notorious_QRG to ignore them. This is a troll. #onedownsideoftwitter’
I was upset and angered by his comment. Partly because he and I used to be on friendly terms, and he used to (I thought) value my contributions to discussions on his blog and on twitter. And partly because he was obviously deliberately attempting to ‘silence’ me and stop me from being listened to by his academic colleagues and friends.
Calling someone a ‘troll’ is more than just commenting on their behaviour, it is a way of dehumanising someone. Of putting their humanity and decency into question. Of shaming them.
I really thought Chris would know better, as a ‘queer theorist’ and supporter of ‘minority’ groups against bullying and discrimination, than to try to make a fool of someone and to turn them into a pariah, an outcast. A troll.
He is not alone in his method of shutting me up. A method that as yet, is unsuccessful, but still very distressing. Later in the week Martin Robbins a science writer and ‘skeptic’ told me that the reason I get banned from feminist blogs is because of my ‘scarily aggressive behaviour’ on said blogs. When I asked him, a great believer in ‘evidence based’ statements to provide evidence of my aggression he did not respond, except by blocking me.
I think one of the problems people online have with me, is that I don’t behave how a ‘troll’ is supposed to. And when I am cast in this role I challenge it. And I challenge their reasons for using the term to describe me, and to put me down and to try and make me go away.
I’m not going away.
And I am not accepting this kind of stereotyping either.