The Backchannel
The Backchannel
Apr 12, 2019
Extremely Offline: Mike Cernovich and Katie Herzog on Trolls, Social Media Mobs, and the Fever Swamp Outrage Machine We Call the Internet
Play • 58 min

Mike Cernovich is notorious on the left because of his past behavior as a social media troll, beginning with Gamergate, and continuing on through Pizzagate and countless other Twitter flare-ups. He's often lumped in with the alt-right, even though his actual politics are a mixed bag of economic populism, anti-interventionism, border restrictionism, animal welfarism, and mild support for Trump, putting him somewhere slightly to the left of David Frum. In the era of Trump, however, it's not your policy preferences that define your politics, it's your positioning within the Culture Wars.

Katie Herzog knows this well. Katie, who writes for The Stranger, is gay and an out-and-out leftist. Yet if you ask certain of her detractors on Twitter, they might tell you she's a fascist homophobe. Why? Because she frequently criticizes certain quarters of the left, particularly when it comes to identity-based issues such as de-platforming and cultural appropriation.

Mike and Katie have almost nothing in common politically. But they do share a point of view on how on internet shaming and social media mobs are shaping our political discourse, a perspective informed by their own experiences. Mike has been both the target and the perpetrator of online pile-ons, a role he seems to relish. Katie has been more on the receiving end, and while she doesn't quite enjoy the experience, she certainly hasn't ducked for cover in her writing on the cultural battles of the left, either.

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