Culture & Community
This is less journalism and more of a long torrent of my thoughts about the community surrounding SCP, which I used to call a home. For a change, the tone here will obviously be more personal, more anecdotal. I have very little or no proof at all of the story I’m about to tell, as I’ve largely been banned from the communities I used to participate in — if that sets off an alarm inside your head, bear with me for a minute. There is some context that is regrettably necessary.
To begin with, I’m an Argentine (that’s from Argentina) writer, gender neutral (MtF trans for most of my adolescent life) and bisexual/pan. None of this information should concern you in the slightest — this is not a job application, it’s insurance. Equally as necessary, and just as regrettably so. From late 2018 to early 2019, and from late 2019 to middle 2020, I was a member of r/scpdeclassified’s first and second Discord servers. In both cases where my membership was interrupted, it was because of punishment from the moderating team.
My first period on the server was rather annoying — not because of the other members, but because of myself — and capped off with a kick thanks to some frankly uncomfortable remarks that I will not spend much time with because I no longer agree with them: that people that are neurodivergent/mentally ill should not be in the internet because of the risk the environment posed to them. Despite how questionable that take is and how justified the kick was, the reason given for the kick was that my sentiment was bigoted — when in fact it was the opposite. This seemingly inane example will prove relevant later, I promise.
When I came back to SCPD, I was in a far different place. A little more mature, a little more sad, a little less politically obnoxious. I made relatively quick friends among the folks from there, balancing my time there with my membership with the RPC Authority — which I considered to be a valid community whose well had been poisoned far beyond recovery (and SCP’s Spanish branch as well, but that’s a story for another time), although the racism and general bigotry that seemed to permeate the air made it hard for me to get involved.
My manners in both places were different, partly out of necessity and partly out of choice. The difference that’s important to the story is that I used slurs. I didn’t do so out of lack of care for targeted minorities (some of which I was and am a part of) or spite, but with the ideological belief that banning slurs made them actively worse for the targets of hate-motivated harassment — which I now understand to be a frankly flimsy defence, partly borne from a lack of understanding of the magnitude of my actions. We don’t really have the same problems in Argentina as the US, so a lot of the cultural context was lost on me.
Ideological matters aside, I thought I’d made a far better home in SCPD than I did in RPC. I was far closer to the people there, and had made somewhat of a name for myself. Lacking many friends and being forced straight out of school and into isolation thanks to COVID-19, SCPD was one of my primary social outlets, and the friendships there some of my closest ones. Even if this was the case, a lot of my interaction there felt heavy. I needed to deeply moderate my words and thoughts in ways that wouldn’t spark conflict. Mostly inane things, like my thoughts on people or articles or policies. What I thought shaped people’s idea of me disproportionately more than my actions did.
It doesn’t take much more explanation to figure out why I considered random internet people from a detached chatroom some of my closest friends, a regard probably not reciprocated by most. I didn’t have much else than SCP going for me during quarantine, and it came to bite me in the ass real soon.
Around the midpoint of 2020, SCPD was drastically reorganized. Some relative newcomers right from SCP’s staff team (among them, Elenee Fishtruck, pixelatedHarmony and aismallard) had acquired moderator roles overnight, and word from Modulum/Prospektor (then owner) had it that SCP staff at the time really didn’t like SCPD, and that the changes were made in an effort to resolve that.
The moderating vice had been tightening for a while, beginning when membership of SCPD’s first server was changed, resulting in most of the userbase immediately fleeing to a second one, under different captainship. SCPD had an incredibly poor reputation for not getting rid of some genuinely toxic members of its userbase, and its status as a large unofficial community not run by SCP staff had painted a big red dot on its back for a while.
This was one of a series of hostile takeovers (“coups”) certain media outlets had suffered at the hands of SCP’s Internet Outreach Team — Staff’s PR arm. Although I was on good terms with a lot of them, the sudden change didn’t sit right. I knew then, even if I couldn’t quite realize it, the new team was there to clean up. Right away, a drastic change: members started getting banned for the distressingly ambiguous motive of “negative value user”. Users that were generally disliked, or insisted on being annoying or doing things people didn’t like were swiftly banned for being of “negative value”. Part of the rationale was that these users would be eventually banned one way or another, and that it would substantially improve SCPD to speed up the process and get rid of them right away.
Even back then, it was obvious “negative value users” was carte blanche for the moderating team to impart their will immediately upon anyone for any reason whatsoever, and I took to complaining to RPC, aware that doing so in SCPD would do no good. That’s what I mainly used RPC for — complaining about SCP when I couldn’t do it there, which was rather often.
Functionally, it felt like an uncomfortable double-life. I couldn’t feel at home in RPC, but it was the only place where I could vent my frustrations with SCP, there included the SCPedo scandal. Still, I didn’t make my opinions a secret exactly, which made people like me significantly less. But I still considered SCPD to be my home — just one that wasn’t as comfortable as it used to be. It stressed me a lot back then, on top of quarantine, familial issues, problems with school, and chronic problems with stress.
As part of the SCPedo scandal, a screencap I took of SCP-INT’s (International Hub) Discord got posted to Kiwifarms. By then, I had no account and wanted nothing to do with the site at all, but it got posted there as something emblematic of how incredibly poorly SCP staff had reacted to the drama — when influential members were suddenly revealed to be pedophiles, the primary video source on the matter was blocked and its posters banned, and any discussion of the subject immediately censored.
It took a long push to finally open the floodgates on that. To exemplify just how egregious it would get, “negative value user” was the justification for another user to get banned when attempting to explain the drama in the most inoffensive way possible — something around the lines of “Bright was involved in certain things” — , when the obvious underlying reason was simply that they were a member of RPC.
My presence obviously increased in RPC as a result of these measures. For probably the first time ever, I spent more time there than in SCPD, purely out of frustration with the circumstances. The rush lasted a few weeks, then vanished. Things went back to normal — and then, snap!
Seemingly out of nowhere, two weeks after my 17th birthday — I find myself locked out of the server. One channel open: an emergency chat where a moderator (Elenee Fishtruck, I believe) asked me to explain myself for saying racial slurs in RPC’s Discord server.
I defended myself for a while, with the moderator insisting in getting me to admit that my behavior was bigoted. That what I had done had been wrong, and a hateful act. That I was racist, or had behaved like one — which meant no functional difference to them.
I didn’t want to give up, I genuinely believed I’d done no wrong. My behavior was entirely motivated by empathy rather than hatred. No one was hurt. But they had already decided for me: in just over twenty more minutes, I was permanently banned from SCPD.
Then, other servers started going poof. “Racist remarks” against Brazil had me banned off SCP-PT and INT — despite having had extensive pleasant interactions with Brazilian users in their server — , and Wanderer’s Library was also quick to go. Other personal servers followed just as quickly. My tangential involvement with Kiwifarms was spun as “threatening the personal information and identities of SCP-INT staff”, and as proof of bad will. My identity and intent were not even brought into question — they were out for blood. Out to find every dram of supposed misdeed and exact vengeance for it. Even if I had done wrong, that felt like far too much for a response. I wasn’t given a chance at forgiveness, even with the knowledge that I meant no evil.
I pleaded with Harmony (then known by another name), and insisted that I had meant no wrong. That I only had good intentions in mind. But they had already decided for me, branded me a wrongdoer and blocked me: they told me that I was wrong and I would grow to realize it. Like being sent to your room by a parent, but with a dash of spite and contempt. We have an idiom for that in Argentina: mandar al rincón de pensar, or “send to the thinking corner”. From a second to the next, I was isolated from one of my only social outlets, and during one of the worst times of my life.
It took a while to hit while I reached out to the people I called friends. Most didn’t answer, and of those that did, all were cold or hated me. I stopped bothering when entertaining the thought of messaging who I considered my single best friend from SCPD, afraid of reading the hurtful response. I felt alone. One of my only social outlets was cut. I didn’t even mean evil. I wasn’t racist. I hurt nobody. I wasn’t given a chance to make up for any wrongs: no doubt there were many, but correcting mistakes is an essential part of being human.
It set in over hours of doing nothing. Of questioning if I had really done such great evil that I deserved to lose everything I had. Was I really so bad? Did I really deserve it? I had almost nothing else, I thought. Although it is embarrassing to think about and it still makes me feel guilty… I considered taking my life then.
Right before I set about doing it, staring at the half-open door of the balcony, I messaged my best friend and told them. I shouldn’t have — they were also in a bad spot, and it couldn’t do them any good to know what I was doing. I don’t think I would’ve gone through with it if I hadn’t messaged them, but I did it anyway. I’ll omit the details, but the conversation calmed me down. I stopped shaking and started thinking a bit.
I had been shunned. There was no other word for it. No one wanted to talk to me, no one wanted to acknowledge that I existed. When I joined SCPD on an alt a short while after, I saw my ban was mentioned once, and there was no further discussion. When my name was mentioned, people reacted with shush-ing. My name couldn’t be spoken.
Even now, it’s hard to explain how much it hurt me, hard to state just how harmful it was. I felt directionless, kinda guilty and kinda angry, and knowing nothing but my intent to do good had driven me there. The next few weeks felt like a haze — I pitied myself and I ranted to great lengths to myself and to others as to how unfair this all was. I started spending more time in RPC as a result.
Over time, I established more of a presence there. I started making friends again. Nobody would question much there — a lot already knew my history, and the rest had a vague idea of who I was. But something was different: they didn’t care.
That carelessness of what I thought and believed beyond the realm of debate felt paradoxically welcoming. They were supposed to hate me. For my alignment, for my identity… Even when I revealed to them I was trans, not much changed. I wasn’t the target of any particular hate, and I was not held in different esteem for who I was.
It felt liberating.
Beyond the empty words of ideological debate and occasional misgendering, I was just one more. I felt more at home there than I had ever felt with those that were supposed to fight hate, and I hadn’t even realized until then because of my prejudices and pre-fabricated opinions about RPC. When I started writing, my identity was no impediment to finding success in ratings and among other writers as well. I found appreciation that I’d never had. And among the people that I’d been told hated my guts.
Over time, I learned that most of the bigotry ascribed to RPC was a lie. One of the most popular, unilaterally loved writers was trans. Another was bisexual. An african guy was a CSS wizard. Eventually, I learned that where SCP had mostly white Americans, RPC had people from all over, from all colors, and with a large share of LGBT folk as well (around 40%, as of 2021). There was really no racism there, sans two or three bad apples, where all sorts of identities talked and wrote and collaborated and planned things together.
RPC helped me heal. It welcomed me when what I thought was my home wouldn’t. I was far better welcomed there than anywhere else, even with all the supposed baggage of identity. Later, Harmony went through much the same process as I. Robbed from their work that they had planned to give away anyway, excommunicated and pushed aside, after about a decade of work. They apologized at length to me, and now we’re working together — it was vindicating. If nothing else, the admission that they were out for blood. That what had been done to me was unfair, wrongdoing or not.
The closure hasn’t hit me just yet, but it’s well underway. I hope writing this will finally rid me of this grudge I’ve carried for far too long. Thank you for reading.
© Confic Magazine