Toxic Activists


A relative yelled at me on Facebook and made me cry when I said I agreed with most of what Biden did his first month in office. She was mad that some of her friends lost jobs they’d been promised for the Keystone Pipeline, which I get, but... it didn't make me agree the pipeline was a good idea in the first place, and I didn’t like how she treated me over it.

Anyway, I unfriended a bunch of people, including that relative, for mental health purposes. Even knowing that my relative will calm down eventually, I can't cope with the kind of energy that bleeds stress and anger and negativity into the lives around it, not even temporarily.

A few times in the past, I've thought maybe I could appeal to my conservative friends/family by mentioning that I know there are bad liberals and maybe giving an example. But I never did it because it wouldn’t have done anything. Like, yeah, there are bad liberals and good conservatives, just like there are good liberals and bad conservatives. But if I started trashing folks just to connect to someone else, that’s hella uncool.

I did mention to my mom during one of our “we’re politically different but we can talk about it and not get mad at each other and actually feel better afterwards” chats that there’s a part of the fandom I'm in that really hates the part of the fandom I belong to (specifically, the characters I want to end up together). They say the pairing I like is abusive and stuff... but the reasoning for that hate changes if it’s successfully challenged. The reasons are excuses. Excuses to be bullies.

I told my mom that this is how my least favorite liberals are, too. Some liberals use morality as a smokescreen to bully others. They don’t actually care if their accusations are true or if their actions are appropriate. They don’t care if the punishment fits the crime. They just want to bully someone, and bullying someone over a morality issue is a socially acceptable form of being a raging dick because the smokescreen is excellent.

How can I tell a bully from people with genuine concerns? I look for motivation: WHY are they saying these things? Does their reason make sense in a rational, real-world context? I also look for whether the response fits the crime. When reactions are disproportionate to the reality of the perceived “crime,” and especially when expressing any other opinion makes you a target, then it’s a good bet they’re just bullies looking for excuses.

One thing worth noting is that none of this means they don’t care about their moral causes, they just don’t care who they punish for them.

It’s much easier to yell at strangers online than it is to make a positive difference in the world. It is much easier to tear people down than help people up.

Online harassment masquerading as social justice doesn't hold up when compared to women’s shelters, legal advocates, educators, rights defenders, volunteers, counselors, peaceful protesters, and even the smallest cogs in wheels fighting to make positive change in the world. If online bullies really cared that much about this stuff, they’d do something real--but bullies don’t like to do real things. They don’t like to do hard things.

I didn’t want to share this with my conservative relatives, who would probably just use it as an excuse to complain about their negative experiences with liberals. So, here. I’ll share this with y’all in the hopes that, if you’re liberal like me, you’ll be a little more aware of how destructive these online moral justice warriors really are, and how they’re not actually helping anyone.

And if you are a moral justice warrior? Consider whether your impact actually makes a positive difference or if you're just doing it to feel good about yourself and get praise from others online. If it's the latter, maybe consider getting away from the online aspect and reinvesting your time in something more tangible. Volunteer, fundraise, donate, or even look at career opportunities that will help you make a difference. Helping might be harder and slower, but it does more good than destroying people online ever will.