Manipulation and Argument 101

This tweet could easily sum up 2014 for me.

As I’m closing in on 30 years old, I’m learning many things about myself. One of which is that I’ve spent the majority of my life as a very trusting person. That sounds like a humble brag, but I assure you nothing has caused me more pain and suffering than this naivety. My insistence in believing that everyone really means well, despite the hurt they’ve caused, has tripped me more times than I’d like to admit.

During my time on social media I’ve observed arguments regarding controversies in gaming culture. Specifically, I have noticed a consistent tactic within the waning “gamergate” community. That theme is simple, but utterly destroys any hope of either side communicating effectively. And it’s a tactic I have finally come to understand now, at 29 years old. Finally.

Willful ignorance. Saying you do not understand the problem when you do. Stating subjective opinions as solid facts. And lastly, intentionally misusing and misunderstanding words or concepts.

This may come off at first at harmless stupidity, but I assure you it’s intentional. Here’s an example:

“Anita Sarkeesian is largely ignored by gamers.” is a lie. A complete and boldface lie. One a gamergater attempted to sell me just yesterday. But perhaps more infuriating is that it’s one that so easily proven wrong. So why? Why try to sell me a load of bullshit I could easily prove wrong? And how could someone believe something so clearly inaccurate? This type of thing spins my head- as it’s tailor made to do exactly that. The answer is of course they don’t really think that at all. It’s a tactic, a game play. Made to create an environment where their opponent feels off kilter, even crazy.


“Do you have any evidence that I’m a misogynist?” Misogyny is an abstract concept. Save for a screencap of a forum wherein they’ve stated, “Hooo boy do I love bein’ a misogynist!” there’s no way to provide “evidence”. Mainly because that’s not how evidence works. They’re demanding you provide evidence for something as if one could find their business card, Mr. Grade A. Jackass – Misogynist.

But surely the young teens and 20-somethings remaining in this dissipating group aren’t smart enough to manipulate people, right? But that’s part of the deception too. You don’t need to be a mental juggernaut to manipulate people. My first inclination is to assure myself, and you, that people may not even be aware that they’re doing it. When someone grows up in a home where manipulation is rampant, they internalize that these head games are a perfectly acceptable way to communicate.

But what I’ve finally learned this year is this: People who manipulate you always know that they’re manipulating you. Always.

Anything you say, no matter how clear your terms, will be misunderstood- on purpose.

They will misuse words like censorship- on purpose.

They will misinterpretation your values and points- it’s all on purpose.

It’s meant to wear you down. To spin you around until your too dizzy and exhausted to fight back. It’s the game that abusers play with their victims. Confronting them with their behavior will only lead to more manipulation and lying because that’s the only way they know how to interact with people. The only winning move is not to play.

It’s amazing to me how these events came into my life in the exact right time, to show me how people will lie directly to your face. It showed me that sometimes, often in fact, people are not as well meaning as they seem. It’s been an incredibly painful thing to realize, but very necessary. Like the last threads of my childhood innocence have come undone and fluttered away in the wind.

In gamergate’s quest for “ethics in journalism” it’s all about control. Controlling the narrative, controlling who is and who is not a “real gamer” control, control, control. And at the end of it all they smile right at you and say they’re a liberal atheist. It’s insanity inducing. And it’s that way on purpose.