The internet is a magical place. People you’ve never interacted with nor heard of prior to interacting with them will block you, for reasons.
It’s Monday night, I had just finished eating pasta for dinner and was settling down with a vodka soda to watch The Fabulous Baker Boys on HBO when it happened. Comrade Cud points to a snarky reply he wrote that upon first glance, didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
HE’S MAKING YOU HIS MANSERVANT. Whatever in the hell is this?
In search of context, I scrolled up. This was my introduction to Culture Shots.
In a take that’s about as spicy as a packet of Taco Bell mild sauce, he writes:
“If you @ me
– With a Pepe avatar
– Argue with me that holding someone accountable for being friends with an ethno nationalist is guilt by association (???)
– Say that shooting flares at refugees (asylees) is a joke?
I won’t debate you, I’ll simply…” <sassy woman gif>.
He’s got 99 problems and a Pepe IS one. So many, it warranted a subtweet that probably won’t be seen by those Pepes on account of the block protocol. Perhaps this is a warning to all future Pepes? I’m sure they will cease and desist all trolling upon perusing this subtweet. Brilliant!
Also, I guess I’m confused about the second point. It’s oddly…specific. Holding your problematic friend accountable is now deemed “guilt by association”? Is there a vampire church newsletter I can subscribe to? I have a hard time keeping up.
This piqued my interest. “Go on…” I thought, as I continued to read.
Here’s where things start to come apart, and Culture Shots proceeds to drive his point right off the edge of a cliff. He tweets, “This is why THEY’RE (read: monolith) so angry that @steve_shives blocks people.” You know, just for clarification. Devils, details, and all that. Or maybe the subtweet reminded him of Steve Shives, and he was all “oh hai Steve, this is how you remind me of what I really am..”
WE’RE THE SAME, STEVE. I’M JUST LIKE YOU. I GET IT. XOXO.
He then goes on to make a sweeping generalization that everyone Steve Shives blocks are trolls, or people who otherwise represent ideas that are so harmful, it warrants blocking them to ensure these ideas are not normalized.
Gosh, I can’t imagine why anyone would be offended by that.
This is the part where I have to say that if said monolith were accurate, and Culture Shots wasn’t straw manning Steve’s block list, this would be a good opinion to hold. You shouldn’t platform Nazis. You shouldn’t engage with them and normalize their ideas (especially if you suck at debate, which I’ve seen a few times now and yes, by self-described leftists). The trouble is, this doesn’t fairly or accurately reflect everyone blocked by Steve at all.
Maybe it was a year or two ago, Cud found Steve Shives on YouTube by way of livestream. I know, because I was there. Much like Culture Shots, Cud thought Steve Shives was pretty awesome. He was laughing and having such a grand ol’ time, he went looking for Steve Shives on Twitter.
I’ve never seen someone so full of glee sour, so quickly.
Have you ever been stonewalled or rejected by someone without knowing why? I’m sure there are plenty of ways to react to that. You might begin to ruminate on every word spoken or action taken on your part that could explain the other person’s behavior. You might start to question your memory or doubt your value as a person. Or you may not care because that person isn’t worth it to you. But I think it’s safe to say most people usually feel anxious, hurt, or angry, to some degree.
Even if it’s some rando on the internet that you’ve never interacted with, it’s possible to feel this way. Maybe Cud wouldn’t have cared as much if he hadn’t been watching Steve on YouTube just before. But no, this was someone he liked, with a sizable platform, who had chosen to pre-emptively block him.
“Are you blocked by Steve Shives too?!”
I checked my phone. Thank God. I too, was blocked by Steve Shives.
“Well at least it’s not personal? I mean, I don’t see how it could be.”
The night really didn’t recover after that. Thanks Steve Shives.
We discovered that he uses block bots, or block lists. Essentially you can subscribe to a block bot that will automatically block all accounts on a centralized list. How does an account end up automatically blocked? Let’s say you follow Steve Shives. The bot will then compare the follow lists of your account to its own deemed by the admin to be “problematic”. If you follow one or more of the accounts deemed “problematic”, the bot in turn blocks you on Steve’s behalf automatically. One can say a block bot deems you…guilty by association.
I understand why Steve would want to use a block bot. Having a sizeable platform on YouTube I am certain he’s been subjected to harassment and abuse from mobs who wish to silence him. And it’s his prerogative to use block bots if he feels it is necessary. Twitter, after all, is historically terrible at addressing abuse.
But I know of many more YouTube personalities who have not felt the need to use them, and they seem to be getting along fine. Additionally, mass harassment campaigns are typically never coordinated on Twitter, and any bad actor can just use a list or a sock to keep tabs on you if they really wanted to. WHY ARE YOU HURTING YOURSELF STEVE?
Anyway, back to Culture Shots.
Cud had some harsh words for Steve Shives in response to the monolith he had been lumped into. But he directed them at Steve, not Culture Shots. I personally would’ve gone after the sweeping generalization part, but that’s just me?
Culture Shots, dude. I know Cud and he is a nice guy. A nice guy who was deemed “guilty by association” because Steve enthusiastically embraces the use of block bots. Now he’s surly, and with good reason when you take to Twitter to state all folks blocked by Steve are Pepes. But he’s not a Pepe, and didn’t even come for you. And you weren’t even the least bit curious as to why, out of nowhere, a mutual took the time to state “Shives is a lazy shithead.” That’s not your typical insult. It’s random. It’s oddly specific. And no one would blame you if you were, say, taken off-guard and had an awkward chuckle. There’s a story behind “Shives is a lazy shithead”.
In a cringey sort of way, Culture Shots responds again by stating the obvious, in a way that comes across as a bid for clout by way of public throne-sniffing. I mean, dude, Steve can’t even see who you’re responding to. You could’ve said nothing and he’d be none the wiser. Do you really think he needs you to defend him?
NOT THAT I HAD TO. I AM A VERY SPECIAL GOOD BOI.
Riddle me this, Culture Shots. How is one to appeal their block, whilst blocked? The only time I’ve witnessed a successful appeal in recent history was by virtue of being invited to BreadTuber’s livestream and confronting Steve directly because, as fate would have it, a fundraiser that made history brought them together. I suppose instead of generalizing Steve’s block list you could’ve been intervening on behalf of your “friends”?
Psst…are your friend Pepes? Is this a subtweet about call-out culture because you’re out here, like, doing the Lord’s work ‘n shit and there be thirsty comrades out there tryin’ to steal your shine? I feel ya, man. It’s about time we cancelled the cancel culture, amirite? FUCK THE MAN!
Wait, no? Zero self-awareness you say? Well, enjoy your flogging.
Sometimes the best response is saying nothing at all. That goes for both Cud and Culture Shots. Steve knows what he’s doing, and sometimes you’re better off just turning the page. Perhaps Steve doesn’t realize his decision to use block bots coupled with the way he has chosen to publicly frame that choice has resulted in triangulating comrades on the internet. Actions almost always come with unintended consequences. Suffice to say when you have a large platform, perception can become lopsided in the more powerful person’s favor. I felt compelled to weigh in on Cud’s behalf, and I was hoping to at least engender some empathy in Culture Shots.
My intent was to add context to Cud’s criticism and humanize him. Culture Shots seemed to just want civility, which I was.
I guess for him “civility” is a one-way street.
THAT’LL BE ALL
Maybe the “manservant” comment got to his head and morphed into some strange projection whereas in a bid to hold onto what dignity he felt he had left, he decided to treat me like the “manservant”. Or maybe it was his blind (or conscious) complicity in patriarchal power structures that made him feel comfortable dismissing me in a way that I’ve experienced countless times before from men in the past. The spectre of sexism seems to haunts women regardless of what spaces they navigate or occupy.
Those were the thoughts running through my mind. The funny thing is that I could’ve swore he originally responded differently. I recall reading a response to my second reply and deciding that I had already said what I wanted to and to let it go. Just under thirty minutes later, this new reply came in, which was a surprise because he was dismissing me after we had, what I thought, was a civil discussion that had ended at an impasse. Which is to be expected, because I don’t expect to change another’s mind with arguments alone. All I can do is say my peace and leave it to the other person to do with it what they will. Anyway, there’s no evidence of another tweet. Maybe he deleted it? Maybe I imagined it?
Rather than jump to conclusions, I asked him to explain what he meant:
Dude, I was done with this conversation 30 minutes ago. A statement like that is really not necessary, and he chose to communicate it in perhaps the most dismissive way possible. It looks a lot more like Mr. Civility had to get one last dig in because…reasons?
When you imagine telling someone “That’ll be all”, what does that person look like? What is your relationship to that person? Maybe you’re thinking of a waiter, a servant, or a subordinate? Hopefully your next thought is “but only in the movies, because that would require a nauseating level of self-importance I may mess my computer”.
This is what I pictured. And I know what you’re thinking Culture Shots, but you can just EAT YOUR HEART OUT.
Culture Shots, if you were simply done with the discussion you wouldn’t have replied. I wasn’t going to. No, at best you’re a haughty dick who needs to not only have final word in a conversation, but needs to do it in a denigrating sort of way.
I responded in kind. Apparently, Sir. Culture Shots is used to sniffing his own farts because he takes my reaction to his bullshit as his moment disingenuously to accuse me of being the one who is condescending. Gaslighting, anyone?
So, I called him on his shit directly, to which he responds by clutching his pearls in horror stating “Okay, clearly this is a bad faith discussion”. Ha! He really does think he’s adorable, doesn’t he? Calling you out for your condescension is not a “discussion” because my self-respect and dignity are not up for discussion, genius. I mean, you can’t be fucking serious, can you? You really, really cannot be…
I mean, he even doubled-down on his prickishness with yet another sassy women gif. Just amazing.
Then he blocked me out of retaliation. To protect his fragile ego. To have the final word.
I guess the most frustrating part is as a woman, dismissals like this occur quite often. You can be civil. You can be fair. And yet, if some jackass feels their ego is threatened, they turn around and treat you like crap, and if you respond in kind or call them on it, you’re either “crazy” or “the asshole”.
Culture Shots, you sir, are a manservant and a manbaby. I’m not going to pretend I wish you well because I’m not a phony who uses “civility” as a shield for treating people poorly. Good riddance.
As for Shives, I do wonder if he is some sort of marketing genius, and #blockbotgate is a dramatic way to get more attention focused on him. I also wonder if he’s a masochist. After all, it has to be really uncomfortable to be confronted with someone your bot blocked for the wrong reasons publicly, at random.
At least I think it would be.
As for Cud, this experience has really made me think long and hard as to how easily I can get into his account, block Steve Shives, and mute all mentions of his name. In fact, I suggest that anyone who finds themselves in this situation do the same, particularly if there’s a strong likelihood said blocker will slide into your timeline again, unexpectedly, in the future. Who can risk Steve receiving another grant because he’s doing all this great work (wouldn’t know, lost interested when blocked), and having all this dust get kicked up once again?
Perhaps it’s time to do something radical. Why not pre-emptively block Steve Shives? You know, because he’s probably going to block you anyway if you’re just some “rando on the internet”. In fact, I think he would appreciate it more if people just saved him the time and blocked him. Spare your rando family, rando friends, and rando mutuals the nasty discovery of Steve Shives blocking them or Steve Shives appearing in their timeline or mentions after he blocked them, ultimately ruining what would otherwise be a delightful evening at home.
Stick it to the bread man, and #BlockSteveShives.
And FFS stop using block bots like you’re fucking robocop or some shit.
Note: The original story took place when I was using another account. I am currently not blocked by Steve Shives on this account because I have chosen not to follow Steve Shives for precisely that reason. It’s a gift, really, to give Steve the opportunity to block me himself in case he ever reads this.