Social Media Fiefdoms

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The other day I was reading a blog by a fat girl & it was weird. I’m fat (ish! ish!) myself so I can relate to the social / romantic misery of it when you’re young – and no one should ever treat you badly because of it – but what I didn’t get was the guff about diets being akin to genocide (you won’t be eradicated – you’ll be thinner) and the strange demands made of ‘allies’.

There was a whole list of things that thin people must do if they want to be an ally of the fat person.

They must say the friend is fat and oppressed,  they must not talk about their own body issues – in fact – they must not have body issues, they must acknowledge the emotional work that the fat girl must do daily to talk about her fat, they must care enough about her to feel ‘unsafe’ in these endless conversations about her being fat, they must not blame her for being fat, they must know that they can do harm even when they’re trying to do good & – finally – when she tells them what she needs, they must supply it.

So I wondered how & why this whinny bore would have any allies?

I’ve seen these kind of demands before – in the form of articles on sites like Salon, Buzzfeed, Jezebel or Everyday Feminism – made by depressed people, or trans people or WOC & it always makes them seem like high-maintenance leeches – but then – they also have concrete things they need to get – mainly help from doctors or justice in the courts – so it made a kind of sense. This fat girl wants nothing but an entourage.

And it occurred to me – all these Identity / Personality Cults – are the internet’s religion.

In a fusion of social causes, self-help, celebrity and Capitalism – there’s evolved a new kind of Feudal Chivalry.

The Oppressed or Famous Person is the King or the Damsel.

The Ally is the Knight who pledges fealty to the King and who fights on behalf of the Damsel.

Some Scandal / Demand / Product is the Joust or the Quest.

Attention / Praise / Virtue / Status / Love / Money is the prize / tribute / tithe / tax

Some groups – like Hackers – will function like a Monastic Order.

It’s not really a surprise considering the most active social media users seem to be immersed in fantasy video games with their medieval value systems and changeable avatars.

The dark side of this – is the dark side of any religion: Liars, con-artists, impostors, thieves, predators –  trolls, flamers, Edgelords – the murky cults (pro-ana, suicide, killing, child abuse, even truly unbelievable things like Erotic Cannibalism) – and the treatment of heretics, atheists, apostates and heathens who get doxed, outed, reported to their employer, stalked, bullied, harassed, slandered, shunned, told to kill themselves, threatened, and murdered.

It also stops a critique of a global economic system that puts the advancement of a few above the security and rights of the many. Worse – like a Ponzi scheme – it encourages the poor to give to the rich in the vain hope of joining them.

There’s also those of us who don’t realise we’ve stumbled upon a cult, try to make a point (apparently logic is oppressive to oppressed persons – even if they’re only oppressed in their own heads) and end up with a heap of Screaming Popes in our notifications.

I’m still bruised from the Torchwood forum.

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