DDoS

Reading Kathy Sierra’s account of the horrific attacks against her by anonymous internet trolls – and the way the tech community has treated the lead troll since – just chopped my soul down this week. Kathy Sierra, Adria Richards, Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian – every awful detail outrages me more.

Then, oddly, I find myself feeling grateful that my harasser hasn’t Photoshopped my daughter’s face on a pornographic image.

When that’s what you’re grateful for, something’s deeply wrong.

I don’t have answers, but I do have some half-formed thoughts. I’m grateful to the women who are out there braving the worst hordes of mysogynist trolls and speaking up in the name of change. I will continue to support them publicly, privately, monetarily, in any way I can. I’ve always thought it’s every woman’s job to stand with each other, spread the heat as thin as we can, and be our own formidable horde.

But.

Even for allies, there are days when preserving your sanity is more important than educating yet another stranger who wants to know what you’re talking about. Or explaining that “just ignore them” isn’t enough. Or filling out another online abuse report. Or discovering anew how badly our tools fail the most vulnerable in our community.

Those are the days it feels like the unwinnable scenario Sierra described, a DDoS attack on one’s spiritual reserves. And you know what? That’s when it’s okay to opt out.

On those days, I can and will choose to spend my time in safe, private spaces, where I will surround myself with people who feed – rather than deplete – me. That’s a fine choice. I fully support Sierra’s departure from Twitter, and understand why she did, even while it makes me sad.

It’s not a woman’s job to make the world a nicer place for everyone to live in her spare time. Some days a woman’s job is to build her own world and invite only the people worthy of it inside.