I’d like remind everyone that you are free to curate your internet experience however you please. When your internet experience starts to suck because people are trying to make your life miserable, you are free to deal with that as you see fit.
You are free to withdraw from a space. You are free to ban and block. You are free to call on friends for help. You are free to dig in and argue with every entitled douchebag who comes along trying to win a war of attrition in order to force you out of that space. You are free to be pseudonymous; you are free to use your real name. You are free to publicly disagree with them, even via a blog post if you so choose; or you can privately disagree with them amongst a small tight-knit circle of friends and allies. You can use any number of block-list services like Akismet, RBL, the A+ Block Bot, or even a whitelist-only setup like making your Twitter account Private. You can engage with everyone who thinks the internet is a debate club, or you can ignore those people, or you can block them.
And be damned anyone who says that this is “fascist”.
These people who compare the internet equivalent of screening your phone calls with Nazi Germany are the ones who are in the wrong, and you can even choose to ignore THEM if you so choose, despite their howls of protestation. They are the ones trying to impose upon you the necessity to treat the internet as a debate club, and they are trying to impose upon your time to educate them specifically why their views are incorrect or bigoted or morally risible or utterly laughable.
We human beings only have so much in the metaphorical gas tank to handle only so many interactions and our level of freedom of association unequivocally guarantees that we get to choose which ones we want to have. We may not WANT to have every interaction that we have, but at that moment when we encounter such interactions we get to choose how we react. We get to curate our experience as we please. The internet is an extension of meatspace — it is not its own reality, but it is a subset of reality, populated by real human beings and these human beings’ creations — even including the scripts and forumssome people use to unfairly amplify their voice by spamming or stuffing ballot boxes. And we get to choose how to interact with these other human beings.
What we DON’T get to do is tell others what amounts of bullshit they do or do not trade in order to use a particular service. What we DON’T get to do is levy a penalty for existing in a certain state, or for having certain opinions. Even people who have the most odious opinions in the world get to block people as they see fit. Even the most terrible misogynist, racist, religious ideologue gets to choose whether or not they continue to engage with a particular person.
People complaining about a real-time block list of any sort because it happens to block THEM at some level, well, they think they’re entitled to everyone’s ear. They think they get to say whatever they want to whomever they want and you’re not allowed to stop them. Spammers have that sort of psychology — how dare you preemptively block their very important information about their Louis Vuitton knock-offs? What kind of Stalinesque dictator are you, for disallowing preemptively people screaming about “niggerjewcunts”? Are you on the payroll of Big Science, blocking them from promoting their blog post where they crack the Nostradamus code using a Bible cypher, and use it to prove that time is a hypercube?
The next time someone attacks you for trying to shield yourselves from attack, block them. Or argue with them. Or tell them to go fuck themselves. Or ignore them. Do exactly what you personally deem the most healthy for you. Never take on projects that you know will require more resources than you have available. If you’ve been around a while, you may have enough resources to take on a particularly protracted fight. Or you may have had those resources eroded from years of protracted harassment.
Just remember that what actions you take — for or against particular ideas — have consequences. Every action or inaction has political implications, down to the most seemingly inconsequential. You might, by any particular action — even as innocuous as a single tweet about something you did or enjoyed or something totally otherwise innocuous — prod a hornet’s nest of angry entitled douchebags. Or you might piss off people you thought you were allies with, or you might find out you’re ACTUALLY IN THE WRONG. You might overrun someone else’s resource reserves, and they might as a result disengage with you. They may even want to make that disengagement permanent, and enforce it using the tools available to them by whatever social media service you’re using.
You might find yourself sued for libel, and that libel suit, rarely though it happens, might even be more than a simple SLAPP suit designed to overrun your resources and force you to disengage. Rarer still, such a suit might even be entirely valid! Or it might just be a call to arms to thousands of like-minded folks to try to overrun your resources, though the tell for that sort of situation is that the person simply won’t shut up about this supposed libel suit in public despite a lawyer’s explicit orders. Or it’s an attempt at destroying the credibility of the person making the accusations. You might even be the one reacting to someone else’s actions this way!
Or you might be the one finding yourself blocked from someone else’s site or social media network. Or you might find yourself the target of angry stalkers who demand that you must never block or ban them from your spaces, and you must absolutely engage them in debate on their terms and on their time. You might find yourself on the receiving end of demands for your attention from perfect strangers, or an army of sockpuppets from a single person trying to steal the mantle and megaphone of the Vox Populi.
And still, despite their demands, you’re free to curate that experience how you please. You can ban, block, withdraw, ignore, engage, or abstain entirely. You want different rules in a space, and can’t convince the owner of that space to agree because they’re curating their own space differently, then you can create your own damned space. And you enforce your rules in that space however you damn well please.
Welcome to the internet. That’s how this shit works.