The Megaphone & The Strawmob: Reflection

#GamerGate has been a topic which has seemingly only been able to be discussed in a particularly emotive and overly passionate way and it was refreshing to be able to air my own thoughts on the matter and discuss the matter calmly with Andy and with Nabeel.

I find it interesting that a lot of the discussion centred around what the #GamerGate movement could have done better. Andy suggested that those with legitimate concerns should have¬†dropped the hashtag in favour of something else to rally under, whilst I suggested that it would have benefited from some form of leadership from very early on. However, in both cases, negatives were drawn – for Andy’s suggestion, the possibility of it actually being put into practice was questioned, whereas mine would arguably have changed the nature of the movement too¬†far, to the point that it would have lost¬†some of its key benefits. At this moment in time, then, it is obvious that there is no perfect¬†solution to the problem, and this is something that, as citizens of the internet, we will have to seriously think about when it comes to future movements.

The discussion didn’t touch much upon¬†how we, as individuals, should adjust our thinking towards such movements, but there was a fair amount of criticism levelled against the mass media and how it dealt with the situation. Andy’s point about the particular bias against gaming as a hobby was was excellent, and something I had not considered. Indeed, one only has to look at the extreme blame given to video games when it comes to mass shootings in America – even to this day – to see how much of a bias at least certain branches of the media have against the gaming subculture. Andy also commented on the¬†media’s obsession with sensationalism when it comes to these stories,

“People having this [harassment, doxxing] done to them for no good reason is newsworthy, and unfortunately, legitimate protest about a legitimate issue is not.”

Indeed, both Nabeel and myself raised two previous examples from the offline world where the news coverage had chosen the sensational over the legitimate (Occupy Movement, Student Protests). This definitely suggests that this particular problem spreads wider than the internet alone, and we should also be questioning how and why the general media chooses to present the stories that it does and in the way it does. However, this is a huge issue that merits its own discussions elsewhere.

 Aside: Social Media Controversy

As no-one else had tackled issues like the Strawmob, I decided to investigate blogs who had talked about how businesses and business-people have tried to exploit situations on social media to their advantage. Adam’s blog post¬†focused on companies’s exploitation of current world events to drum up interest, whilst Dom’s post¬†focused on companies’s attempts to use “edgy” humour to do the same. In both cases, they showed a tendency for things to backfire, though arguably less so in Dom’s discussion – most of the “edgy” humour shown did not provoke outrage, and certainly did not “blow up” as in the case of the ‘Image from #Rochdale’ tweet that Adam referred to. However, I very much liked the fact that he questioned whether we should, in fact, be outraged by some of this humour, and also whether this sort of tactic is effective.

In both of my comments, I used the example of the Lotus F1 Team to illustrate my points – I found it interesting to look at the same media phenomenon from two different perspectives. On Adam’s blog, I opened up the idea of a moral “grey area” when it came to social media, especially due to its international nature. I was very glad to see that he¬†really engaged with this, citing the Tesco horsemeat scandal as an excellent example of my point¬†that¬†I hadn’t considered. Most of my comment on Dom’s post could be considered to be arguing against the points that he raised, but I definitely valued the fact that his post made me consider the issue as deeply as I did, even if our conclusions were different.


Burgess, C. (2014), The Megaphone & The Strawmob: #GamerGate and Social Media, The Progressive: Calum Burgess.

Johnson, T. (2013), Fox & Friends Hypes Flawed Link Between Mass Shootings And Video Games, MediaMatters.

Stiles, A. (2014),¬†‚ÄúHere, this will make you feel better‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Using tragic world events to promote business products through social media,¬†UOSM 2033 Living and Working on the Web |¬†Adam’s Blog, Enjoy.

Uzoziri, D. (2014), How far will businesses go for free advertisement? Welcome To The Wild, Wild Web.

My Comments:

On Adam’s Blog

On Dom’s Blog

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *