How to Defeat Social Media Witch Hunters

Author’s Note: This is the fourth part of an ongoing series. My intent is not to bring attention to myself nor to any particular party. You’ll notice I speak here in generalities. I refuse to participate in the same witch hunting that is ruining our online communities. My intent is to raise awareness of the inherent problems of public shaming so that we ALL may back away from the practice. To catch up, you can find part 1 herepart 2 here and part 3 here.


Picture this. You log into Facebook one morning and notice that you have several unread messages. Curious, you open one. It’s a contact of yours. An acquaintance, not really a friend, but someone you’ve had plenty of interaction with online. Their message is as follows:

“Hey man, I don’t want to get involved or anything, but I thought you should know that people are talking about you! I’ve included some screen shots so you see what’s happening, but I’d rather you didn’t tell anyone I showed them to you.”

What you see in the screenshot is a public post from another casual acquaintance. Someone from your writing community or art club or music circle. They’re accusing you of something. Publicly. Right there for the whole world to see. Your heart rate increases. Surely there’s been some mistake. Ten, fifteen people have suddenly blocked you from their friends lists. No one has come to you privately (save your well meaning friend who doesn’t want to be involved.) No one offered to talk to you directly about any of this.

Maybe you got into a political argument with them a day or a week prior and came down on the wrong side of the moral majority and now you’re literally a nazi.

Maybe you had an awkward conversation with a girl online late one night and misread some signals. Now you’re being accused of sexual harassment.

Maybe you’re a freelance editor and you’ve been buried in work. Suddenly you’re perpetrating a heinous fraud. A slime-ball thief who only meant to rob unsuspecting authors of their hard earned money and NEVER intended on finishing those edits in the first place!

You’ve been publicly shamed on social media. Now what?

First of all, don’t blame the people sending you screenshots. Even though they never come to your aid publicly and may SEEM like they’re just trying to fan the flames and watch the drama, they usually DO mean well. They just know that if they get in between you and the angry mob, they’re going down with you.

Rest assured, you DO have options. Your public career is NOT over. You don’t HAVE to bend to the will of the witch hunters.

1. They only wield as much power as you give them

Don’t defend yourself. Just don’t do it. Allowing the witch hunters to control the narrative by putting you on the defensive will end in failure. You see, you’re already guilty in their eyes. They’ve seen the screen shots, remember! The out-of-context, totally blown out of proportion screen shots. If they ever had any intention of giving you a fair shake, they would have contacted you privately as adults to discuss your side of the situation before they cast public guilt on you in the first place.

And do not bloody apologize! You may think it will calm everything down, even if you truly believe you did nothing wrong, if you just say you’re sorry. They’ll forgive you, right? Wrong. They’ll hang you from your apology and laugh as you shit yourself as you choke to death on it.

Do not even acknowledge the so-called charges. Do you. Go on about your life and ask your well-meaning friends who will continue to try to keep you up-to-date on the witch hunters’ public shaming attempts to simply drop it and stop talking to you about it.

You will find, curiously, that ignoring the fire is the strongest wet blanket you can throw on an internet mob attack. They HATE when you don’t give them attention. They are, after all, accusing you of career-ending atrocities. Only, as I’ve discussed in previous parts of this series, the witch hunters have accused so many people of being harassers, racists and closet homophobes at this point that their weapons have dulled edges. The accusations by and large fall on deaf ears.

2. You don’t have to watch it happen in real time

Log out. Your career doesn’t end if you’re not on social media for a day or a week. Often times it feels like if you’re not actively engaged in your own public execution, it’s a sign that you’re guilty. That you’ve lost. After all, since no ACTUAL charges are EVER going to be brought against you, the only way the witch mob “wins” is if you go away. So it feels natural to stand your ground and refuse to make yourself unseen.

Only that’s just going to cause you more stress. The fact is, witch hunting is a bustling business. There’s going to be a new witch to burn next week or next month. Within a day or two or a week or two some other poor sap is going to have his head under the ax. Sure a few over zealous witch hunters will continue to harass (ironic isn’t it?) and berate you to those in your creative circles who love to sit back and watch a good witch burning, but the heat will die off surprisingly quickly.

Taking a week or two to yourself to catch up on work or spend time with real life friends and family can do a lot to bolster your morale and keep you thinking positively in the face of a very stressful, very traumatic situation.

Come back whenever you want, and yes, expect a fresh wave of crazy public posts about you upon your return, but notice how much less bite there is to it the second time around.

3. Don’t take it personally

One of the first things you’ll want to do is retaliate. You’ll want to try to dig up all the dirt you can on the witch hunters. After all, we’re all human and in the digital age of no privacy, all of our sins happen publicly. Maybe you watched one of the most vocal witch hunters get black out drunk and projectile vomit all over your shoes at an industry convention after he couldn’t handle rejection from a woman, and now he’s trying to lecture YOU on how to behave around the opposite sex.

Resist the urge to sink to his level. You will only further embarrass yourself and taint your artistic legacy by getting into the mud slinging. Remember, these people truly believe they’re doing the right thing by culling the community herd. It’s nothing personal. They aren’t attacking you because you’re actually a bad person. They’re attacking you because they assume EVERYONE is bad until they prove otherwise.

4. Remain supportive of your community

It’s going to sting when a mentor or an author or artist you grew up idolizing joins in the attack on your reputation. Again, it will feel natural to feel hurt and betrayed. You’ll want to throw their books away or rip their artwork off your walls. But one of the best things you can do is remain respectful and supportive of your community. Keep buying and reviewing books. Keep participating in themed art challenges. Keep your head up. This will go a LONG way toward making the rest of the community supporting the head hunters start to second guess the flimsy examples of proof that were provided at your public sentencing.

In the end, unless you give witch hunters the power to shame you out of your online community, it is only a matter of time before the heat dies down, the fire goes out and the witch hunters are on to the next target.

The BEST thing you can do is refuse to participate in the public lynchings that don’t involve you. To privately contact those who do get themselves involved and explain to them the harm they’re doing to their community. I believe we’re at the end of the public shaming era. It’s only a matter of time before this hysterical practice has lost all its effectiveness. Until then just sit back, relax and remember, this is all just a simulation inside of a computer program anyway.

How Social Media Public Shaming Works

Author’s Note: This is the third part of an ongoing series. My intent is not to bring attention to myself nor to any particular party. You’ll notice I speak here in generalities. I refuse to participate in the same witch hunting that is ruining our online communities. My intent is to raise awareness of the inherent problems of public shaming so that we ALL may back away from the practice. To catch up, you can find part 1 here and part 2 here.


Post-election 2016, mainstream media declared that we’re living in a post-fact, post-truth era. Many people took this to mean that “fake news” on social media had helped to influence the election and make Donald Trump the most unlikely president in US history.

But that’s not really true. Fake news had nothing to do with the UK stunning the world when they voted “leave” and created Brexit. Nor did fake news have anything to do with last night’s vote in Italy to prevent further centralization of government power with their constitutional referendum.

What’s happening around the world is that the mainstream media has lost control and confidence of the voting public. And what “post-fact” and “post-truth” really means is that the media no longer has the ability to spin propaganda in any truly effective way. The REAL fake news, no longer dictates the outcome of public will.

And so it goes at the micro level as well. Public shaming, internet bullying, witch hunting. There is a commonality with which the mainstream media and internet communities have chosen to impose their will on us. Increasingly they’ve both relied on social shaming tactics to quiet dissent and impose a collective order.

The cries of RACISM! SEXISM! XENOPHOBIA! HOMOPHOBIA! are falling on deaf ears. When every other person on your social media is accused of these REAL and AWFUL character traits, the accusations begin to lose their edge. Indeed, an entire presidential campaign was fought by calling one of the candidates every one of these things.

And people stopped caring. Cry wolf long enough, and the village will watch it eat you just for the satisfaction of seeing you finally shut the fuck up.

So in that spirit, I present to you the three ways in which social media witch hunters have historically tried to burn out heretics from online communities. Because the first step in ridding your house of cockroaches is to shine the light on them. Understanding their methods brings us one step closer to ending social media public shaming.

1. They will come for your Virtue

The first, most common, and up to now most effective way to root out a witch is to attack their virtue. This happens when a group of social media users begin to accuse their target of racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia. This is where they’ll throw around words like stalking and harassment. And this is what works the best.

Who can defend themselves against these accusations? There are always some out-of-context screen shots of private text conversations or something similar. Just something to try to show that these accusations aren’t dreamed up out of thin air, even though they often are.

This doesn’t mean that real stalking, real harassment, or real racism doesn’t exist. It just means that the frequency with which these accusations occur would lead one to believe that every damn third man at a horror convention is both a member of the clan and a convicted rapist.

2. They question your integrity

Should the target somehow manage to wiggle free from the virtue destroying dog-piling, the astute witch hunter will quickly shift away from talk of racism or homophobia in favor of questioning the target’s integrity. At this level, every other author or game designer or musician or painter or whatever becomes an expert financial manipulator. A schemer and perpetrator of the most heinous frauds imaginable. They’ll send out work as a freelance editor and then NOT TURN IN THE EDITS ON TIME!

They’ll be accused of plagiarism. They’ll be said to have run off with the kickstarter or indiegogo crowd funding money that they’ve raised. Mind you, no charges are ever filed in these cases. No criminal activity is ever shown to have occurred. These are scare tactics designed to discredit and humiliate a person into quitting their position. Be it magazine editor, small press publisher, tabletop or video game designer.

The witch hunters aren’t any more interested in pursuing actual litigation than they are in presenting tangible evidence of what again are REAL and SERIOUS problems that DO actually occur from time to time in our communities. Just not with the damn frequency that these witch hunters want us to believe. Which leads us to:

3. Talent and ability

By far the least sexy, and least effective form of social media public shaming. The attack on the target’s talent. See, witch hunters are busy people. In addition to trying to weed out evil doers and culling the community herd, these people are, strangely enough, also typically financially dependent on the very same community they serve and protect. They’re writers, editors, publishers, game designers and the like. It’s almost like there’s a real, tangible financial benefit to shrinking the competition. Coincidence?

Anyway. At this level, the accusers actually have to have READ the target’s work. Or played their games, or watched their films or whatever it is the target actually does for a living. In order to shame him for it, the witch hunters have to actually make an effort to consume it.

And since art is subjective, calling an author or musician or filmmaker a hack is only going to be effective among those looking for confirmation in the first place. It’s long been understood that criticism has barely any effect on sales, especially in the area of book reviews. So while it is common for a target to have their books or games or music mass-reviewed poorly on sites like Amazon as a bullying tactic, it’s rarely an effective way to humiliate and shame the target.

So there you have it. That’s how the thankless job of the weary social media vigilante works. The reluctant crime fighter who just can’t stand the idea that somewhere out there, a white man, who happens to be direct financial competition to him, might not support gay marriage.


How Social Media Witch Hunting Killed Genre Fiction

Author’s Note: This is the first part of an ongoing series. My intent is not to bring attention to myself nor to any particular party. You’ll notice I speak here in generalities. I refuse to participate in the same witch hunting that is ruining our online communities. My intent is to raise awareness of the inherent problems of public shaming so that we ALL may back away from the practice. You can find part 2 herepart 3 here, and part 4 here


Since Donald Trump won the US election, liberal social justice warriors have doubled down on their hysterics, which makes public life a nightmare for the rest of us. This has been especially apparent in the genre fiction circles I run in.

Just in the past 30 days alone I’ve seen a conservative author and publisher banished from Facebook for a month after someone reported a Led Zeppelin album cover as obscene that had been sitting in his photo book for ages.

But it’s not only the banning from social media for posting mainstream album art that’s troubling, but also the way in which the writing community attacked the author and the album art as being grotesque and obscene because the imagery contained naked children in a non-sexual manner.

I’ve seen a prominent fiction cover artist friend condemned as personally transphobic because of a political protest picture he drew showing Mike Pence wearing a dress and makeup as he cried.

And another author summarily excommunicated from a genre fiction community for refusing to edit a set of travel blogs about his recent experience at an industry convention which focused on a crush he developed on a female author there.

The self-censorship and the fear that self-censorship creates in the community has stifled, choked and ultimately, in this author’s opinion, killed small press genre fiction. It’s no secret that next to no one is making money writing fiction outside of a few key markets. But the horror, sci fi, and bizarro writing communities were booming only a few short years ago.

From around 2008-2012 there was a HUGE wave of successful small press authors as one of the largest publishers of genre fiction, Leisure books, closed its doors. But as political correctness and the witch hunts that inevitably followed became more and more frequent, the creativity and content of genre fiction suffered.

Sci Fi has been embroiled in the very public Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies Hugo award controversy over the last several years. Lovecraftian horror saw its godfather, H.P. Lovecraft (who has been dead 80 years,) have his likeness removed from the World Fantasy award bust. But the social justice erosion hasn’t ended there.

Extreme horror and offensive bizarro have all but vanished from the marketplace because authors are too scared of being publicly shamed and excommunicated from their circles to pursue the more edgy and controversial content once celebrated by fans.

And without the edge and bite of the more extreme stuff, the rest of genre fiction looks bland, tame and boring in comparison. Sales have fallen off and writers are finding it harder and harder to justify the long hours behind their computers without any sort of financial benefit.

Social Justice has now bulldozed through video games, comic books, music, fiction, politics, indie filmmaking, Youtube channels and anywhere else creative people dare to express free thought and free expression.

Will the Brexit movement and Donald Trump’s conservative sweep of American politics swing the pendulum back toward a climate more favorable and conducive to creative freedom? No. We’ve just let the damn Christians out of the penalty box to fight us from the other side.

And that is a world I truly fear. Genre fiction is dead. May whatever fresh hell comes next sting gently and take us away in the quiet of the night.