We've spent a lot of time discussing imaginary communities in this course (understandable given the name of the course), but these communities exist equally online and in the physical world (text-organized flash mobs, Facebook-organized protests in Egypt). Although we touched lightly on a community that exists almost entirely in the digital sphere (Anonymous), and discussed the tension between their online presence and their brief forays into the physical, “real world”, I would lake to take the opportunity to discuss a different online community with a fundamentally different goal:
What are the challenges involved in creating a community online that wants to be left alone? Unlike Anonymous, which is frequently sidelined but clamors for attention, a significant and passionate group of like-minded individuals known as “Bronies” have created for themselves an alleged “safe space” to discuss their interests (primarily the children show, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”). This space, intended to allow Bronies to engage in dialogue free from prying eyes, is unfortunately frequently invaded those who do not want to let this group alone.
Primarily using Anderson's understanding of the imagined nature of a constructed community to understand the creation of “Brony culture”, Coleman's discussion of Anonymous to frame the (often stark) differences between the two primarily-online community, and Berlant's Cruel Optimism to mark the tragic arc of the creation of a safe Brony space and tentative forays of “Bronism” into mainstream acceptance, I intend to track the history of this community, especially insofar as it tracks down to one of the most important questions of our time: how do online communities deal with persecution from (often anonymous) sources in ways that are particularly unique to the space they occupy?