Doubling down is what many of us do when backed into a corner. Ex-Google employee James Damore is doing it with his ‘diversity’ memo. America did it in Vietnam, and more recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. We do it every time we discuss politics. It’s really nothing new. That’s why when I heard about the most recent Pewdiepie controversy, I didn’t really care. I’m not offended or incensed, I’m not outraged (I’m too exhausted for that). Really, I’m not going even bat an eye.
This is what these people do. It’s what all trolls online do — it’s what the rise of Donald Trump has done to discourse online. This isn’t, of course, the first time that the Pewdiepie controversy has happened. Last month as a sign of atonement, Pewdiepie called Nazi jokes a “dead meme.”But then he did what he does best. He doubled down with racist slurs on his livestream. Now though, his behavior generated hundreds of think pieces online (just like this one!). But all of them are missing one key point.
He doesn’t give a shit. He may lose endorsements from mainstream media companies, but we’re sure as shit talking about him right now. Every time he opens his mouth he gets his fifteen minutes of fame. And our cycle of media outrage culture allows for it. For Pewdiepie controversy is a marketing tactic. Just like Milo Yiannopoulos, he’s nothing more than a provocateur. Instead of trying to ban hate speech, instead we should consider hearing people like Pewdiepie out.
Then maybe we’ll realize how toothless and vapid they all are. They’re nothing more than barnacles clinging to the harbor of anger and fear. But once that ship sails, they’ll be as relevant to the mainstream as any fringe figure should be (as in, not relevant at all). So let the Pewdiepie controversy die like it should, and let him keep his core audience of zombied-out Generation Z gamers. But that doesn’t mean his provocations should be a part of our discourse.
In fact, the best way to get trolls to go away is to not feed them. So maybe that’s what we should do.