On Predators and Communities

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was an online community for nerdy things. For people who liked nerdy things like buffy, or outlander, or harry potter, but didn't have friends who also liked those things to talk about with, it was heaven. It was a haven. It wasn't perfect, of course, but what community is? Generally, this community was pretty great.

When I found that community, I felt like I had come home. I looked up to the people who had founded it, and who seemed to lead it with such wisdom. I made friends online who became some of my best friends in real life. It was a positive place. People took care of each other, and took each other seriously, and created wonderful things.

Unfortunately, it turns out that one of the founders of the community wasn't what he seemed.

What he had seemed: a good man, a gentleman, a scholar. A Ravenclaw. A feminist. I looked up to him. I trusted him. I listened to every podcast he thought to create.

What he had done: He used his wife, who was also a founder of the community, for her money, her united states citizenship, and her podcast following. He used the community that they built together to stoke his pathetic ego. He undermined his wife, talked over her, and in the end, he abused and assaulted her. He'd had it pretty good, but it wasn't enough for him. Once he didn't need her anymore, he found a younger set of victims and left abruptly.

She told the truth about how he had treated her, and he stayed silent. His new victims stayed silent. He attacked his ex-wife in private, where no one in the community would see, so that it was only her word against his silence, so that he could continue feeding off what attention and validation he could get from the people that wouldn't believe, couldn't believe.

And that gorgeous, wonderful, positive community? It tore itself apart. People took sides. People condemned the abuser; people condemned the victim. People refused to take sides. And all of that wonderful positive energy that could have been going to making things and caring for each other went into fighting each other and compiling evidence and announcing their stance on the whole situation.

And really, I don't see how else it could have gone any different, given human nature and a psychopathic, manipulative asshole. But it's still a goddamn tragedy when you consider that he should never have been worth our time in the first place.