If you’d asked me last year, one of the last things I would’ve expected to end up doing this year would be planning a speaking tour with Suey Park. Park’s claim to Internet fame was, after all, being chased into obscurity after the #CancelColbert debacle, and I, personally, have crossed swords with her more than once. She was, at one point, being paraded around among Asian-American activists and writers as an example of what not to do, and I was part of the cadre of writers dogpiling her and trying to distance myself from the “extremism” she represented.
But a lot’s happened since then. From one perspective I’ve “radicalized” a lot since I started writing last year, or at least grown a lot more impatient with the search for the objective view-from-nowhere that characterized who I was in college. And Park has herself grappled with the fallout of her own social media career and spoken critically of so-called “SJW” extremism. It might be fair to say that we’ve ended up meeting vaguely in the middle.
I’ve had a lot of conversations with Suey through social media that eventually led to the idea of publicly touring together to talk about our experiences and what we’ve both worked through in the past couple years. I pitched her the idea of putting one of our dialogues up for publication as a snapshot of where she and I are coming from when we talk about our time in the “hashtag wars” and how arguing with people on the Internet has changed us.