The left actually originally owned memespace. Dawkins is social leaning, anonymous was always a bit social justice with the term social justice warrior created to discredit it, 4chan was actually quite while libertarian a little left and somethingaweful always had socialist tendencies. LOWTAX raised money for charities, like a lot of money but paypal just couldnt comprehend ppl coming together from the internet could be anything but a scam.
The left then decided all these computer nerds were no good and wanted distance from them, so distance they got. Even today you say you are a gamer to a leftist and voila you are an instant misogynist and racist. Guess what. #gamergate had some merit as a topic of discussion, it just got hikacked by the right because of a refusal by the left to think gamers were anything but monsters from the internet.
So our natural allies had no choice but to support Trump. So they did. I dont blame them having been there actively through the whole story.
Left has no one but their own arrogance and failure of vision and inclusion to blame.
while I know a ton of gamers who are very left, I do agree this is still probably a majority. and why? because imo the gaming community not only allows, but often explicitly enables these views amongst members. freedom of speech is all well and good, but is it really worth the cost when so many are alienated? how do you balance?
it’s been stated repeatedly that PPAU has a diversity problem, and there seems to generally be a consensus that ppl want to fix this. same in the gaming community but I don’t see as much vocal support to increase diversity (in fact often violently opposite). So I don’t think you can really say left are to blame for the lack of inclusion. Simply reacted to a hostile culture that grew unchecked with lack of self-policing. Failure of vision though, maybe. Could have tried to find ways to bridge the gap, and didn’t.
as far as memes go, I think this has been largely effect of less intelligent and more easily manipulated sheeple flooding the internet which previously was offlimits and too nerdy. they’re all here now and they’re happily shitposting the most offensive crap they can find and egging each other on. this nothing new, in meatspace we just created laws to reduce the amount of black people publicly lynched and women slightly more able to prosecute their abusers… but the prejudices are still very much there.
How to fix I’m very very interested in working out… this kind of discussion helpful I think.
I don’t think ‘the left’ is an actual thing where people decide what to do and how to react to various issues. What happened is a subset of the left, which for lack of a better term I will label ‘liberal identity politics’ got a lot more mileage than it had been for a variety of reasons, including promotion by Clinton Democrats. They didn’t criticise wealth inequality or Wall Street so didn’t hurt Clinton donors and made up the Democrats meritocratic faction which has been dominant until the Sanders campaign.
Social media has a habit of amplifying the worst of everything because it is easy to find caricatures that fit an imagined stereotype. There are literally billions of people, some of which will fit that caricature. The worst of a stereotype with anger people who don’t like it and that view will get amplified by going viral.
Social media also removes context for debates within specialist interests. Fifteen year old nerds are going to offend many of the general public, equally cultural criticism that was once meant for academic types gets shared to audiences who don’t have degrees and miss the context.
Having a degree in Creative Arts, I like me some cultural criticism, but I have studied the creation of culture for years. I found stuff like Feminist Frequency interesting, taken with a grain of salt. I find the study or representation to be worthwhile thinking about because I make art, thinking about what and why things have been portrayed certain ways makes me think about what and how I portray things in my own work.
Music has been subjected to cultural criticism for longer than I have been alive, and found the gamergate thing to be a bunch of people crying about stuff that is normal for musicians. If cultural criticism was really influential there wouldn’t be any film clips that objectify women, so I just scratched my head, but again, I am the target audience for cultural criticism. Young gamers were not the target audience and without the context of an academic interest in cultural studies, it got amplified for the wrong reasons because it infuriated people.
On the other side, all of the rape threats sent to Zoe Quinn just demonstrated to people who thought gamers were sexist, that gamers were sexist. 15 year olds pwning other 15 year olds with threats of rape in games is normal, 15 year olds are generally horrible people, I was. Outside of that context it is threatening, especially in a world where rape is fairly common. Again the worst cases were used to discredit gamers in general, because social media amplifies the worst examples of everything.
And so the division was created.
We seem to be in a different situation where there is serious push-back against liberal identity politics from within the left. Socialist and Anarchist types ignored liberal identity politics because there is no focus on economic inequality. Being different movements, there was no need to engage with them until they became used as a caricature of the left in general. Again, the worst caricatures of people’s opponents are easy to find on the Internet.
As the criticisms of liberal identity politics gain more traction the needle will swing back the other way. We can help with this somewhat, particularly on the issue of cultural appropriation because it is squarely in the realm of intellectual property.
How this helps create better memes? I am not too sure.
As a literal 15 year old internet nerd, a stereotype which some here have used offensively and a bit hypocritically, I’m hoping this first-hand experience will help.
There are a few problems or rather errors undertaken when people are trying to cross this communication gap between a minority which feels the major populace is out of touch with it and the out of touch major populace.
What first has to be established is this surge of conservatism across the internet is not coming from the sheeple on social media, it’s coming from those deemed nerdy by the left and right. Views of the average ‘nerd’ has massively changed over time, from the bookworm being the major ideal from the 80’s and before, the stereotype or the gamer arose in the 90’s. This was fine then, they were the minority and many showed intelligence, it seemed fitting, but now the world is in a technological era where everyone is attached to a device, where three-year-olds have IPads and while this sounds like Armageddon to anyone above 30, that’s where the problem lays: It sounds like Armageddon to anyone above 30.
People are approaching this with no experience of the online world, articles like this show a lack of experience and that’s why they feel out of touch, they’re being judged and reviewed by people who lack understanding of the topic. Memes arose as something innocent and funny, those heavily engrossed in the cyber world and those more soft-core on social media had something similar to laugh over, that’s where the road began to split in two. There came a new kind of meme, one that was funny because it had a “you can’t say that in public” attitude, while social media was still engrossed in sneezing panda. This soon developed and became more hardcore and started attaching itself to laughing at race, religion, gender etc. making jokes which were dark or inappropriate to say normally. Social media ignored this, the internet loved it, and soon they became more and more hard-core and mocked those in the real world who actually beleived the stuff they joked about, like alex jones and trump. But then came in the sheeple of the internet users, who started to believe the jokes being made by the meme makers because like everyone, they wanted to fit in. Eventually as this content swayed more and more right, opinions did too.
In short, if you want to change things, put boundaries on how offensive memes can be, the only thing I’ve seen stop an inappropriate thread from getting worse was moral shaming. DO NOT name and shame everyone making inappropriate jokes and stop trying to sway memes a certain way, just set some broad boundaries and tell people if they’ve crossed them (not boundaries legally enforced, just something loose), don’t rationalise things you if don’t understand them (that’s not attacking forums like this, that’s attacking the influentials in politics and society which try to give opinions and suggestions on these issues reguarding cyber-culture while they still need help setting up microsoft word on their computers), and try not to generalise a group of people; history teaches us that ends to annoy those being generalised.
P.S: sorry if there’s any editing errors, I was really tired when I made this
Thank you @JustAKid, for your perspective and insider insights.
So if I understand you correctly, you are saying that meme makers, deemed “nerdy” by both left and right", have been making memes that became more and more inappropriate, which influenced people’s opinions as they believed the content and tried to fit in (i.e. sheeple). You seem to distinguish between content creators and socmed users whose opinions were (partly) shaped by said content, as this would help them fit into the cultural environment.
I think a lot of people (can’t say what proportion) are very prone to adjust their opinions to whatever they expect to be the dominating opinion around them. At least for me it takes guts to speak my own mind when I know there will be people listening/reading who strongly disagree. In my ideal world, politics would be a space where exactly this is possible, where people find the courage to engage in discussions about difficult topics with people who have entirely different perspectives, ideas and information, but where it is also possible to change your mind and improve one’s opinion exactly because of being exposed to arguments and facts which lead one to come to new conclusions freely.
I think it’s really sad that the kind of free and humorous exchange of ideas that’s possible through memes seems to have been steered from the top towards the, as you call it, “conservative” side by a select few meme makers (who I doubt I would ever honour with the ‘nerd’ descriptor, some of whom come off as rather fashy imo). I think this is really sad because memes are demonstrably such an effective way to make ideas go viral, as long as there is some resonance in society. Where are the social justice memes taking the piss at government fails such as robodebt? or at the scramble to get as much coal out of the ground as possible before no country in the world wants any anymore? couldn’t pepe the frog make some snarky comment about climate change as he uses up Australia’s last water resources on a cotton farm?
Sidenote on “hate-speech” laws: In my personal experience, including in Germany where I am living currently, laws which let government agencies subjectively determine what is and isn’t too offensive only ends up protecting governments’ human rights abuses being protected from criticism, and not those who are actually oppressed by fascistoid governments. I’m saying these kinds of laws can easily be abused by authorities for a kind of Orwellian mind control.
I completely agree with what you’re saying and I can see where you’re coming from in the last paragraph, it’s very difficult to find a solution to being able to stop a governmental abuse of boundaries with that system, it is certainly difficult to find a way to stop memes being taken too far without there being flaws or exploits in the solution. To anyone reading this I am more than open to ideas if you’ve got anything.
I think @Jano’s ideas are promising possible solutions, by improving the ability of a collective intelligence to self-regulate. From what I’ve learnt in discussions with Jano, and from reading her work, I believe the idea is to implement a more nuanced rating system than just positive/negative (black&white, polarizing, divisive), but a scale of say -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3, on different aspects or criteria of a piece of material. The most relevant aspect/criterium here would be the level of respect for / violation of human rights: