You know him. And even if you don’t admit it, you fear him. Or at least you should. He has time, and he spends time watching you. He watches everything. His weapon is his smartphone. He is that vocal, yet mediocre member of any profession, movement, group, sport or academic endeavor whose role is to police what is being done by potential deviants, potential innovators and especially potential new leaders. It is up to him to decide whether that individual may be coopted or must be outcast.
He is the gate-keeper of the echo chamber, where the dominant members of any community manufacture false respectability and reputation. With the use of social media, even in esoteric endeavors like the sciences, this character has become an asset in the power play. He will brown nose those that monopolize the dominant discourse and will harass until exclusion those who don’t behave according to the field’s power structure.
He is resentful. He struggled to get the crumbs of recognition he may have and he will inflate them by all possible means. He is insecure and angry. If you understand his suffering and offer support, he will take it. He will bite your hand in the first opportunity, though, unless you are the one single all powerful alpha dog in the pack. Then he will suck it up, smile, go on brown nosing you until you trip and fall. Then he will be the first coyote to plunge his teeth into your liver.
In Bourdieu’s model of “symbolic fields economics”, he will always have less capital than necessary to ascend to a real dominant position. He secures his place by making the right alliances. Deviants with higher symbolic capital are a threat to the digital bully. Should something happen and the deviants ascend to dominance or manage to break the field, his position is no longer safe.
We all need to learn how to identify these gate keepers. They can gain a lot of power from tapping into exoteric circles’ resources, through emotionally laden and simplified discourse. They hinder the advancement of any intellectual field.
It is useless to fight them off: they are an integral part of any field in our post-modern times. It is better to silently ignore them and maintain invisible colleges underneath the media hype.
Whether you admit it or not, we have lost the war. All our fields are now in part or totally dominated by fake authorities whose power is defended by digital bullies.