In 2009, Ravelry first silenced, then banned conservatives. To prepare for 2020, it’s resurrecting the playbook, as are other social media sites.
Yesterday, Ravelry, one of the largest fiber arts social media sites, with a member roster 8,000,000 strong, made the equivalent of a loud, rude farting sound in the conservative blogosphere. It did so by openly and boldly announcing that all references on the site that in any way support Trump will henceforth be banned because (and I quote): “Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.”
Putting aside the idiocy of that statement, one completely belied by Trump’s statements, his policies, and his supporters’ identities, statements, and political goals, I want to focus on Ravelry’s impulse to censor. Shouting down people and then shutting them up is the perfect Leftist social media paradigm.
Today’s Ravelry story, which goes back to the 2008 election, is especially interesting given that today is the day that Project Veritas revealed Google’s plan to prevent Trump’s reelection. In 2008 and 2009, social media sites were beginning to crack down on conservative voices. Conservatives grumbled, but went away without making too much of a fuss. The same happened in 2012. No wonder then, that in 2016, the big social media outlets assumed that conservatives would continue to be cowed. They had no idea that Trump would be the man to release the anger pent-up in conservatives for eight long years of insults and silencing.
Project Veritas’s most recent exposes of the social media giants show that they intend to use their extraordinary power over speech and information to return America to a 2008 political world. We need to see where things started in order to understand how they ended up — and in order to prevent this type of technological takeover from happening again.
To go back to the very beginning, the internet was tailor-made for crafts. Although crafters usually work in the privacy of their own homes, they are in fact a congenial group. They enjoy sharing ideas and untangling knotty problems. There’s also real pleasure in showing off a finished project to an audience that truly appreciates the effort that went into it. Also, for those who do crafts and have marketable skills, whether it’s teaching or designing projects, the internet is a godsend for bringing together seller and buyer.
Before my children came along and changed my focus, I was active in some of the earliest internet knitting ListServ groups. This was back in the early 1990s. Those groups very quickly became social. Thus, we not only exchanged knitting information, we also told jokes, shared recipes and child-rearing tips, and (something I remember vividly) focused heavily on the uses and mis-uses of Peeps come Easter. Parenting took away my time to socialize on the internet and, eventually, any spare energy I might have had for knitting.
It’s only in the last few months that my life has settled into a rhythm that sees me knitting again. In the 22 years since I last put my knitting needles down, I’ve learned that the internet has become a superb knitting resource in ways I never could have imaged back in 1993 or 1994. Although I have a beautiful collection of knitting books, they sit quietly on the shelf when I try to figure out how to do a new technique or remember a long forgotten one. Instead of dragging down a book, within seconds at my computer I can summon up videos or information pages (or patterns, free or otherwise) that far exceed the contents of those now out-dated books. It’s both exhilarating and rather sad.
But some things remain the same and knitters (and other crafters) are as congenial as they used to be. This means that, just as those old ListServs saw us conversing about things other than knitting, people on the current sites also want to talk about things other than knitting. And that gets me to Ravelry’s first foray into censorship, back in 2009, shortly after Obama was inaugurated. Back then, two conservative knitting bloggers told their tales at length. I’ll see if I can provide a shorter version. [Read more…]