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This Week in Discourse: Royal Rumble
Can hating a stranger be your whole identity?
Welcome to Friday! The Internet is still filled with nonsense.
If you see internet nonsense happening during the week, play it safe! Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and let the professionals handle it.
People Hate Meghan Markle
The British monarchy is having a big coronation party this weekend for King Charles. On the surface, there’s not really any good reason for people to care about the royals these days. But Stan Culture is still a huge thing, people obsess about stuff much weirder than the King of England, so it’s not that surprising that hordes of people still care about the royal family. What’s surprising is that most of the conversation hasn’t revolved around Charles at all - frankly, he’s not that interesting. Instead, the coronation has been an excuse for anti-Meghan Markle spaces to go absolutely insane.
Some background - Meghan Markle is a former actress who married Prince Harry, King Charles’s son. This was seen as either ground-breaking or controversial, as Meghan is a divorced (gasp!) American (gasp!) Black (GASP!) woman marrying into a family that clings to outdated traditions like a pitbull clinging to the world’s last chew toy. It would be impossible to litigate all the drama that occurred after Harry and Meghan’s marriage but here are the VERY abridged cliffs notes - Meghan supporters think the British press and royal family are racist, bigoted creeps who treat Meghan like crap for basically no reason, while Meghan haters think she’s a phony, bitchy social climber intentionally turning Harry against his family.
All of this is well and good - having opinions about celebrities is fine! We’ve all indulged. Some people take it a much too far with Stan Culture and build their entire identities around liking a musician or an actor. But a much stranger and newer phenomenon is anti-Stan Culture - building one’s identity around someone you hate.
Egged on by the British tabloid press, Meghan haters have built an ecosystem devoted entirely to documenting and analyzing Meghan’s life. There have been coordinated harassment campaigns on Twitter, and these were not simple instances of people venting frustration. These were sophisticated, planned campaigns. According to social firm Bot Sentinel,
Hate tweets about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex included racist content, tweets calling for Markle’s death, and accusations that Markle was faking her pregnancy…
“This campaign comes from people who know how to manipulate the algorithms, manipulate Twitter, stay under the wire to avoid detection and suspension,” Bot Sentinel CEO Christopher Bouzy told BuzzFeed News. “This level of complexity comes from people who know how to do this stuff, who are paid to do this stuff.”
“the hate narrative around Meghan Markle was bolstered by a “bot network,”… and included monetized YouTube channels that made over $400,000… hate accounts coordinate on several platforms, use Twitter to spread disinformation, monetize their hatred, and circulate conspiracy theories on YouTube”
And it’s not just Twitter. Perhaps the premier Meghan-hating space on the internet is the subreddit /r/SaintMeghanMarkle, a whirlpool of conspiracy, insanity and obsession. This subreddit by itself has thousands and thousands of comments per day leading up to the coronation - which Meghan isn’t even attending. It’s hard to overstate how far through the looking glass the subreddit is. This is a place where Meghan is morally equivalent to Jeffrey Dahmer or Ivan the Terrible.
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The posts include plenty of standard insults and discussions of Meghan’s looks, her personality, sense of fashion, behavior, etc. There’s also more insane stuff like conspiracies that Meghan is personally responsible for rumors about Prince William having an affair (or secretly responsible for any negative press William gets). There are posts about how criticism of the sub is anti-white racism. There are posts about how Meghan’s pregnancy was faked and her children are dolls or paid actors. There are conspiracies accusing her of having worked as an escort and being tied to Jeffrey Epstein. Like any fandom or cult, there’s impenetrable lingo - Meghan is the ILBW (Instagram-Loving-Bitch-Wife), TW can either mean The Who’s or That Woman/That Witch, etc. Individual posters often have thousands of comments just on this subreddit, just in the last year.
Anti-Meghan fandom has been documented for years, and is so well developed that there’s even scholarly research about it. The coronation seems to have brought it to a fever pitch. The subreddit has gotten so poisonous that Reddit admins are threatening to ban the subreddit entirely, to which the moderator of the subreddit had a very normal response:
I find the royals themselves fairly tedious, but the phenomenon of anti-Stans fascinating. What drives someone to obsessively hate a random celebrity as though that celeb had personally murdered their puppy? Why would you build a community around it, or base your identity around something you can’t stand? I’ll be writing more about this soon, so if there are any particular Stan or anti-Stan communities I should research, let me know.
This Week in Elon
Believe me, I wish as much as you do that we didn’t still have to talk about Elon Musk. We already know that he’s fully ensnared by the One Ring of Posting. But this week Elon got up to a larger than normal volume of hijinks:
Twitter made their 37th change to how verified labels work - for some users they now just say “This account is verified”. This might be because Elon is manually giving blue checks to popular celebrities to make it seem like they paid for them, but it was legally dicey to claim they paid when they didn’t.
Users discovered a glitch that allows legacy blue checks to get their verified blue check back.
Last week, New York’s MTA announced it would not pay 50K per month for Twitter API access and would have to shut down automated subway updates. Twitter folded and will now allow them and other critical infrastructure functions API access for free (as they had in the past).
This is a single week’s worth of nonsense. The future with Blue Sky can’t get here fast enough.
Bad Tweet of the Week
Links and Posts
I regret to inform you that UmbilicalCordTikTok is a thing. Click at your own risk. It’s… well, it’s what you’re probably thinking it is.
In a very depressing story, a guy murdered someone for laugh reacting to a Facebook post. If ‘road rage’ is a thing, we need a term for ‘posting rage’.
TikTok suspends a libertarian think tank account for posting pro-democracy-in-Hong-Kong content, showing they are indeed beholden to the CCP.
We talk about a lot of deranged things here, so every This Week in Discourse ends with a happy thought. Here is a baby lion doing his best.
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