I have said many times that I support what Gab is doing. It’s important to understand the implications of Gab in the here and now however. It all comes down to containment.
Free speech zones, limited states, shadowbanning. All of these things have one thing in common. Limiting the reach of your words and message. Containing your dissent so that it cannot spread to the wider population. There’s a reason content that spreads rapidly is referred to as viral. Cutting you off from the general population neatly avoids the potential Streisand effect of outright bans. It allows them to neuter you without the wider world reasoning. You are allowed to stay, but your effectiveness is gimped unless you can find a way around these control methods. The ultimate aim is always to get you to leave and go elsewhere of your own accord.
Time is precious, we all only have so much of it. There are many battles raging across the internet right now across the myriad platforms that we all occupy. But it’s important to understand the relative visibility of each of these platforms. It’s a question of maximum numbers of eyes on a given message. When the entire establishment is stacked against you, efficiency and working asymmetrically at scale are the keys to victory. They can make all the mistakes they like since they hold the power. We have to play the game smarter. We must ensure our impact is felt beyond our circle of friends.
The problem with Gab is one of time. If political activism is your “career” you have the time available to spread your message across multiple platforms. Those of us who are in this out of a sense of principle do not have this luxury. I’ve tried spreading my message to minds/gab and many others. But all it meant was I was spending less time on Twitter where the real battle is. I’ve watched people get banned time and time again and eventually they just give up and flee to another platform. Hint: When was the last time the MSM covered a story from Gab or Minds?
I know the impact a person can have, under the right circumstances, by directing their message to the real battleground. Don’t believe me? Google my username and see what you find.
Now let me be clear, it is important to establish platforms as alternatives to mainstream options. Myspace showed that even the most dominant social media platform can be toppled if a viable alternative is put forth. But this will take time, and with the current consolidation of power within Silicon Valley barriers to entry have never been higher. We need dedicated people willing to make these platforms viable, but at the same time we need to focus on the war currently raging in key battlegrounds. If you are a devoted Gab user then great, but remember that for now Gab is an alternative, not the main focus. They want you to flee to other platforms so the narratives on twitter can go unopposed.
This balance is difficult to attain but it is vital to our success in bringing lasting change. It’s a war of attrition with the deck stacked in the enemy’s favour. But hey, I always did love a challenge. As the old saying goes “anything worth having in this life requires hard work and sacrifice”. There’s a reason I spend so much time online pushing back against narratives. My life would be so much easier if I just let it go and accepted the inevitability of their conquest. You can make a lot of money fighting for the establishment, fighting against them will always come with sacrifices and costs. Never forget however, trying to monetise always leads to compromise. They control the funding platforms and therefore your ability to make a living. This is why I maintain my anonymity and a source of income completely separate from this fight. Remember the Skinner Box? The only way to fight it is to refuse to play their games. Be stubborn, it’s all voluntary. Hence why I’ve had 8 accounts so far.
Containment is however, just the first step. Once they have you isolated and contained you the real fun starts. Look around the MSM and you will see Gab currently being declared a “White supremacist platform”. Anyone who was around for Gamergate will remember the “pedo-board” accusations that were levelled at 8chan. There was no truth to the rumour but it took off like wildfire because it was an accusation so vile that it prompted an emotional reaction in the reader. As Scott Adams regularly points out, people don’t generally make decisions on evidence but rather emotion. This is why the left is so fond of words like “racist”, “bigot” or “Nazi”. Emotional reactions take logic off the table and protect weak arguments from rational scrutiny. But as discussed previously, these words are watered down through overuse. Taking you out of the conversation altogether is a far more effective method.
It’s all about balance. They want people to flee to other sites but they also want you scattered into small groupings so that no one alternative can gain enough traction to present a real challenge to their dominant platform. Anyone with a background in economics will recognise this as monopolistic competition. Competition can rage between the smaller companies, but they rarely propose a real threat to the “market leader”. Through sheer scale the monopoly platform can crush any competitor that begins to make progress down this path. The illusion of choice is a powerful weapon when wielded correctly.
As mentioned containment is however only the first step in this centuries old tactic. Once they’ve contained you on another platform and limited it’s scope infiltration will come next. I warned people about this with Gab when it first started up. People felt safe in their clubhouse because membership was required to gain access. But, like all social media platforms, it’s open to infiltration.
If you want to see how to fight this go look at /Pol/. Many have tried to infiltrate that board in recent months. Slide threads, bait spamming and concern trolling are common. They tend to spike whenever /pol/ gets hold of a real story. This will never work however, because /pol/ is not twitter. It is a board filled with politically engaged posters who have seen these tactics play out over and over again throughout history. The assumption with pol is that everyone is a shill and each poster is only as good as the words they present. This is why true anonymity is so terrifying to those who would seek to control you. A person has no history or reputation to fall back on. They cannot buy influence, they cannot infiltrate effectively with “double agents”. The only option available to them is astroturfing. To those who understand anon culture this tactic is easy to spot and ignore.
Learn from /pol/. Question anyone offering you easy answers. Educate yourself on the enemy’s tactics and, most importantly of all, stay in the fight.
Pave Darker is a political activist and contributor to New Media Central. You can follow him on Twitter @darkpaver
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