Trigger warning: emotional abuse, suicide
This is a pattern that is worth mentioning, if only for the sake of self-defense for AltSciFi.
Remember the defamation attack that began in early 2018 January?
It now seems to be the result of a set of actions that are often and easily replicated. This how it works, and how to spot it in people you might follow on Twitter.
The next step for attackers would be to say “well, if it keeps happening, it’s clearly a pattern of your behaviour.” That’s a lot like saying that if you’re repeatedly harassed, you “asked for it” or the harassment is somehow your fault. In fact, it’s exactly the same as saying that — a close cousin to the emotionally abusive tactic called gaslighting. And that’s why this blog entry documents the most recent episode as thoroughly as possible. Better to do it now than have to defend against someone else’s lies later.
The other alternative is bullying, which has already happened: call the other person a “snowflake” and “triggered” for defending themselves. Notice when that happens, both in this post and elsewhere.
Another option is to pretend that this blog entry is “the real bullying”, which belongs in the “I know you are but what am I” category of childish attempts at using someone’s words against them. There, the bully plays victim and accuses their target of “drama” for defending themselves.
This is the original false claim made by someone we’ll call “Arachne” (Arachne is a pseudonym used to protect her identity in case she decides to delete the embedded tweets below. Screenshots have already been taken to ensure that she can’t lie about what was said):
Here is the response that led to the new attack.
The previous case began late in 2017 (not 2016). An artist (we’ll call her “Artist-1”) on Twitter accused AltSciFi of “stealing art” after the AltSciFi account reposted one of her images on Twitter with proper attribution (by attaching another tweet that cited her username). That defamation attack snowballed and continued for nearly a year after she re-appeared to spread her trash-talk to another, more popular Twitter user a few months later. It would have been easier to mitigate the effects if that first attack was well-documented with screenshots from the start.
This brings us to point number one:
Red Flag Number 1. Immediately Quote-tweeting with ridicule instead of engaging in conversation (or simply clicking Block, Mute or not responding at all)
The moment that someone you follow starts quote-tweeting with ridicule, take a very careful look at what’s actually going on. The quote-tweets will often tell a distorted story, literally framing the quoted tweet in a way that serves the quoter.
In the previous defamation attack, Artist-1 decided to try to win easy “clout” by pretending that AltSciFi was “stealing” art. The AltSciFi account quickly blocked her and that seemed to be the end of it. Not so, as we’ll see.
In the current attack (on 2018.12.09), our new friend (we’ll call her “Arachne”), did exactly the same thing. Her first response to the request for further reading material was quote-tweeted ridicule.
Her claim is false, by the way. Mindfulness has not been shown to “dangerously trigger people with PTSD and cause permanent mental and neurophysiological issues in some people”. In any case, if you’re suffering from a severe diagnosed mental illness or symptoms such as psychosis, please consult your mental health professional before attempting any form of self-medication, including mindfulness techniques.
This was her next response, which she later admitted was bullshitting (and intentionally misleading anyone else who stumbled into the thread as well). This constitutes a deceptive and possibly harmful scare-tactic to dissuade people who could benefit from mindfulness training:
This was her next response. Notice the continual use of quote-tweeting and ugly ridicule:
And yes, in case you were wondering: the DSM (therapists’ diagnostic ruleset) does leave an over-broad interpretation of “post-traumatic stress disorder,” which has led to widespread over-diagnosis and misdiagnosis. Read more here (click/tap here) if you’re curious to learn more on the topic.
When AltSciFi pointed out that her reaction was uncalled for, this was her response.
Note that Arachne’s username on Twitter is “ArachneLastname” and her display name is literally “Arachne”. She literally invites people to use her first name by displaying her first name as her Twitter display name.
Followed by this:
Red Flag Number 2. Assumption of gender, followed by misogynistic/misandrist/transphobic insults
Arachne apparently also keeps a Twitter list of “mansplainers”, to which AltSciFi was added. This was the first instance of gender-based harassment, as AltSciFi intentionally does not present as any gender on Twitter (or anywhere online, in fact — which has amusingly led dudebros on Reddit to assume AltSciFi is a woman, and commence misogynistic attacks. More on that another time.) And no, you can’t “tell” a person’s gender any more than you can “tell” by looking at them. Aside from that, your gender is no one else’s goddam business unless you trust them enough to voluntarily tell them.
Note here that the article Arachne provided does nothing to substantiate her claim, as revealed here by simply reading the article, which Arachne obviously didn’t do (as she admits later):
Her response was this:
Summary of tactics used up until this point:
- calling someone a “jackass” for not believing unsubstantiated claims
- quote-tweeting with ridicule if they ask for links to research
- adding to lists of “splainers” for daring to question you
- saying “Google it pay me” instead of engaging?
- gender-based harassment as a cheap insult
It gets worse.
Notice where she slips in the word “misogynist”, appropos of nothing. Where did that come from?
If Arachne wanted AltSciFi to “get the fuck out of her mentions”, there are three ways to do that:
- Stop responding
- Click/tap the “Mute” button (the exact purpose of the Mute button)
- Click the “Block” button
An even better way to avoid a fight is not to openly try to antagonise and shame a random person who, in good faith, asks you a question for which you claim to have an answer. Starting a fight, then later pretending that you “just wanted to be left alone” is like… starting a fight, then pretending to be the victim when you realise that your attempt at bullying isn’t going so well.
What AltSciFi has already learned from the previous defamation attack is that if someone wants to defame or attack you, they will continue to do so at every opportunity after the initial event. This is why this blog entry is necessary — to completely document this event immediately after it occurred.
By quote-tweeting and distorting six of AltSciFi’s tweets with derisive garbage — then descending into gender-baiting and misandrous shit-talking — Arachne displayed a desire to shame and harass an “enemy” into silence.
This “playing the victim” tactic is continued below.
Notice the excuse-making here. Arachne makes an unsubstantiated claim, immediately jumps to shaming and insults, and then, when it’s revealed that she actually was wrong in the first place, she openly admits that she was trying to mislead everyone in the thread by posting a bogus link to a study that didn’t have anything to do with her (bogus) claims.
Note that on Twitter as in the rest of life: the burden of proof is always on you to substantiate your own claims. The more extraordinary the claims, the more extraordinary the evidence must be.
And read the tweet where that point is addressed here (click/tap here)
Making a wildly unsubstantiated claim, then telling others to “Google it” is how conspiracy theories and other wrong ideas attain the status of fact. People rarely check the veracity of a claim, especially if it fits their existing beliefs or is spoken by someone they trust.
Notice the continued gender-baiting here. Arachne is leaning into self-victimisation mode here — there were somehow “hints” that AltSciFi “missed”, or “requests” that were ignored. As you can see clearly, all that really happened was a string of insults, gender-based shaming tactics and attempts at misleading her followers.
The pattern continues.
Red Flag Number 3. Playing the victim and insinuating that anyone who disagrees with you is “violent” or an “abuser”
Arachne pretends to be the victim again, claiming that there were “boundaries” that were “run over at top speed”.
Now the thread descends into a different kind of emotional abuse.
“I sincerely hope you haven’t actually assaulted anyone yet and that you get help for your abuse and control issues.” This sentence insinuates an accusation that AltSciFi is a probable sexual predator, abuser and strives to control women.
Remember that Arachne has no clue as to AltSciFi’s gender (or if AltSciFi is agender).
This is how you weaponise gender in social media.
Again, this isn’t about how “women are evil”. Men do it, too. If a man thinks you’re a woman, any disagreement means you’re “weak”, “emotional”, “obviously very passionate”, etc. Both types of gender harassment have been used against AltSciFi.
Insinuating publicly in front of a large audience that a person is a sexual abuser because they disagree with you is on a completely different level. It’s not only disgusting, it’s openly defamatory and a dangerous attempt at blatantly lying to an entire group of people (Arachne’s Twitter followers).
And it gets worse.
Red Flag Number 4. Smear tactics
Almost two hours after our previous skirmish ended, Arachne felt the need to return:
To which the response was curt and unambiguous:
Here’s the other aspect of this game: when a woman decides to launch a defamatory attack via quote-tweets against someone she labels as a “guy” or “dude” — or worse, some sort of bogeyman “abuser” — her male followers will follow like mindless attack dogs.
Some idiot time-traveled through a year of AltSciFi’s tweets to search for literally anything to talk trash about. Note that he had to sift through an entire year. And this is the worst he could come up with. The tweets speak for themselves:
Here we see a smear tactic that has become popular over the past year or so — dig into someone’s Twitter history and try to discredit them based on an offcolour joke or offhand remark.
This time, however, that smear tactic backfired miserably. Only the worst kind of idiot would blame someone for offering a list of suicide helplines to a person who claimed to be on the edge of suicide. That type of muckraking in order to harass a person just because they dare to disagree with you is absolutely disgusting and completely inexcusable.
After this exchange, they finally shut up (and most likely moved on to an easier victim). And now, this blog entry offers extensive documentation of exactly what happened.
P.S. The holidays are a tough time for many people. Here is the list of helplines you can use in case you feel the need to call for help. Please talk to a professional if you feel like you’re experiencing a psychiatric emergency. There’s never any shame in asking for help.