Watergate is forever known as the scandal that put an end to Richard Nixon. A break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee that unravelled illegal activity, and Nixon had no choice but to resign.
Since then ‘Watergate’ has become synonymous with american political scandals. For everything else, there seems to be a liking for the later part of the word for anything else that may be deemed a controversy.
Gamergate, celebgate, bendgate. It’s definitely thrown around these days. Sure it sounds like it’s a little out of hand, but there’s been a definite reason for it.
Not to be confused with a type of ant, gamergate happened at the expense of indie game developer Zoe Quinn. An ex-boyfriend having a terrible time coping up with a broken relationship unloads a series of blog posts in hopes of “Showing the world what kind of person she really is.”
Whether or not it was the man’s intention, a pandora’s box of sorts opened up on the internet and hundreds of internet users from all over the place relentlessly harassed Zoe, anyone defending her, and the fundamentals of games journalism of being corrupt. All the while carrying flags of Misogyny and antifeminism at everything.
It was a hashtag fuelled by conspiracy theories, and calls to fightback for something these users never had in the first place. What started out as an outcry from people that just don’t like Zoe Quinn, has turned into a fight between a hobby for children and Feminism.
Celebgate, (otherwise known to Reddit as ‘The Fappening’) probably a little more widely known to people do to the fact that they were leaked nudes of Hollywood actresses. Leaked is also too strong a word in this case, as they were really just photos sitting on the iCloud not going anywhere and a bunch of people creeped their way in to accounts and took them out to share with the world.
It’s controversial for a couple of reasons:
First, these were photos that were taken without consent and shared all over the internet, thus fetishizing the objectification of women that the internet already seems to have on a regular basis.
Second, it’s shows an incredibly distinct flaw in Apple’s system. If one were to manually delete a photo off of their Apple device, the phone will continue to stay on iCloud wether you like it or not.
But the fun doesn’t stop there for Apple. With the release of the iPhone 6/6+. First was a 4chan related incident that involved the website convincing people that you can quickly charge your phone in the microwave.
There’s been instances of people putting their brand new iPhone6+’s in the pockets of their tight pants, giving them a wee bend. I suppose it’s controversial because people didn’t think that aluminum phones would bend in places they have no right to belong in.
While it’s humorous to thing that people are finding controversy in their own ineptitude, it seems that bend gate has a whole different meaning now.
But why am I saying all of this in the first place?
On August 9th of this year, an unarmed teenager was fatally shot in Ferguson, Mussouri. What followed was an unrest of protests and rioting lasting a little over 2 weeks.
Though the police plan on making changes that are absolutely necessary for the community, it’s clear that the citizens of Ferguson have no trust for the force that is supposed to protect them.
On the other side of the world, thousands of protesters for Pro-Democracy have crowded Hong Kong streets to fight against the Chinese government’s attempted influence into Hong Kong’s elections.
It did start out as a peaceful protest, but grew into what the government considers to be ‘unlawful’.
What goes on in Ferguson and Hong Kong are actual protest from communities that deeply care about the place they live. When enough people gather together for a cause they will fight back in a powerful number to get their voices heard. All in on place, all as one voice.
The difference with those and the #gates lies in the sincerity. By comparison, gamer/celeb/bendgate, are a seemingly entitled view from people we deem ‘privileged’. A minor grievance for a day that everyone wants to voice an opinion on because it’s so easy to trend on twitter. It’s almost as-if our online protests (I’ve also heard it be called Hashtivism.) are parody to controversy that is actually serious and real.
When hundreds of Nigerian school children were abducted by terror group Boko Haram, people of Nigeria took action. Word got out globally with the Hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. People took to the trending with photos of themselves holding up signs, in order to show how serious the situation is.
According to aidforafrica.org 276 girls still remain missing, and all still all the best you can do is share your name and email in as a reminder that you stand for the rights and safety for girls in that country.
Ann Coulter apparently decided to mock the whole thing.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a done in the style of a chain letter in the hopes to encourage raising money for research for the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
It went viral. Celebrities, Politicians and Youtubers all took the challenge in support, but it wasn’t long until some teens used it as an excuse to prank a boy with autism.
What is the lesson in all of this? It seems harder for people to take things seriously when we have the internet as our gateway to the world. People often think that sharing their opinion about something on twitter could be enough, but it doesn’t scratch the surface of what Ferguson or even Hong Kong is going through.
It’s unclear if society feels sympathy for real matters when they hate having change in video games, or don’t like the way art looks. It seems all too petty in comparison to complain about things that don’t even apply to us, but we do it all too easily anyway.
It may be time to reflect on the excessive use of the -gate suffix and really understand what’s an important matter in the world. You know, the things that are truly controversial.
It’s about time we close all of these #gates.