We Discuss Nick Robinson, Harassment, and Power Dynamics on Waypoint Radio


This whole thing makes me really angry on a bunch of intertwined levels as to how exactly something like this can be allowed to happen. Whether it’s more or less parts of the story, not even particularly tied to this specific case. It’s hard for me to really express that, without just holding up middle fingers everywhere. So I guess I’ll just keep it at this venting.

“It fucking sucks.”


I also want to say that this whole thing exposed me to a form of predatory behaviour I didn’t even consider, i.e. “softboys” where men try to act sensitive, inclusive and warm in order to lure women or otherwise impressionable young people.

It’s important that people aren’t vilified for being approachable, inclusive and “soft” by association, but that we recognise that this behaviour can be leveraged for someone’s benefit.
It just sucks that, what should be very positive behaviour can be used to harass the very people they claim to support.

Men should be encouraged to be inclusive, sensitive and sex positive, just be aware of the responsibility that comes with that.


I’m glad Waypoint met this issue out in the open. I felt like they did a good job untangling the confusing web of Twitter threads so listeners can see what in the world was actually going on. First I heard of this was in the live chat on another site’s stream, and man is it difficult to research this kind of thing across all of social media on your own.

Regardless of the outcome with Nick, I appreciate that the Waypoint guys were able to weigh the dangers of mob mentality and the ‘court’ of public opinion with the need to protect the vulnerable members of society from people who take advantage of them. It was a surprisingly well-balanced discussion of a shitty situation.


I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to say that the introverted/emotional/approachable/“soft” male persona does not necessarily correlate with a propensity for manipulative behavior, and I think your comment here addresses what I wanted to.

Waypoint’s discussion on this whole topic hit a lot of important points. For me, I was especially glad to hear them bring up (1) How there’s a difference between the “performative” softboy and the sincere softboy, and (2) instances like this controversy with Nick have a great power to poison the well for what should be seen as otherwise positive behavior. It’s disgusting how there are men who perform in such a manner as a means to seduce people (I’ve known guys in my own life who acted this way), and the danger they can pose is very real.

Instead of saying something akin to “Not all softboys…” here, I’ll instead say to any men who might present a “soft” persona: if you think you are not a deceptive soft boy, truly reflect and ask yourself why you present in such a manner. If it’s for reasons beyond a want for sincere self-expression, then you probably aren’t as soft as you’d like to think. And if you truly believe you are sincerely expressing a soft boy persona for the right reasons, as @cyberspacecat said, be aware of the responsibility that comes with that. The “performative” and sincere soft boy personas are very real, and just because someone falls into the latter category, that does not give them a legitimate reason to downplay the prevalence of the former.


I’m a soft boy myself but that is due to my up bringing with my mom for most of my life, having a brother and sister being adventurous, and my mental disability has framed my mind to different ideas. Acting like one is pretty shameful if doing so is to get people to be into you.


Never hard of the soft boy persona specifically before this podcast but it fits. At first I recoil from the thought of labeling and quantifying personality types like this, but when I think about it these personas are more or less a conscious choice for content makers/celebrities however you want to parse them. So they are already making their own personality a commodity to be catagorized, I guess.
The inevitable blow backs are alpha types arguing that diminuative people are just “acting” that way to manipulate bothers me…it’s just more justification for being social Darwinist assholes


I dunno, even within the context of the sort of commodified personality internet celebs cultivate, I find the unironic usage kind of uncomfortable.


That true since it a stranger being upfront in a video. It a matter of if they open up to their audience and are willing to talk about themselves.


This might be worth reading if you want to further understand the concept of Consumption As Culture and Personality As Commodity.

It mostly deals with the former, but these things aren’t mutually exclusive, to understand one is to understand the other.

In a Late Stage Capitalist/Consumerist society, Cultivated Identity in the form of the Cult of Personality around a celebrity-type figure only works if said celebrity has presented their personality in a way that’s easy to market. This can of course apply to “soft” characteristics (whether their genuine or just for presentation is irrelevant in this case); and it’s also true of “hard” or otherwise generally negative characteristics.


Followup poss.

You’re not wrong or bad for liking Nick Robinson or anyone on any sort of deep level before all of this, or even now as many people are dealing with the current issues on very personal levels.

I was only attempting to explain the cause and effects of this sort of thing.

You’re not wrong for enjoying anything he was apart of on any deep level, especially if you, like vast majority of us, had no idea.


Interesting article, thanks


I’ll give this a read, thanks.

But my issues with commodification of personality aren’t the same as my discomfort defining people as “softboys” even if folks are identifying with it.

But I guess that’s another branch of this discussion so I’ll hold my tongue until it crops up again.


Glad the crew took time to discuss the situation with Nick. As someone who was a regular viewer of his Polygon-related work (mostly with Griffin) the things that have come out are both disappointing and disconcerning. It was also weird to be at Lollapalooza trying to see his brother (whose set got cut short due to lightning) and opening twitter to see this stuff start to brew…

While I’m disappointed, I think I would’ve been much more upset if Polygon hadn’t handled things appropriately. As much as I liked Nick’s work, I’ve been following folks like Chris Grant and the McElroys since the Joystiq days and I think my trust would’ve been more broken if they had let this slide. Thankfully that hasn’t been the case, and I trust that Vox has the ability to handle an inquiry like this (not the same thing at all, but the Chris Ziegler stuff at the verge last year was probably a weird and personal investigation for them to deal with).

Not sure what finality will come of the Vox investigation or the reporting mentioned on the podcast today, but I hope people who have been impacted by Nick’s behavior can move forward now that this is out in the open (even if they don’t want to talk about their own experience).


In a somewhat unrelated question:

I was catching up on Waypoint radio today and heard the team mention that reading the articles is a big help for them. I’ve been following Waypoint articles through my rss reader and so I haven’t actually been on the site itself. Does anyone know if this helps their numbers or not? I’ll gladly click those links if need be but would stick to the rss reader if it doesn’t make a difference.


I’m no expert, but I think RSS feeds operate independently of the main content display. You’re not seeing ads, so the answer should be no, it doesn’t help.

(I use an app, too, but I click through for articles I’m actually going to read.)


Ye, RSS readers aggregate the reads (of the RSS feed) so if you’re on something like Feedly then the server just polls that one RSS page [a single xml file with all the latest articles and metadata] once (per update so hourly would be typical) no matter how many users are reading that source. This is assuming they even attempt to use the RSS feed to try and track users (which, for the above reason, it a bad idea so many don’t even surface how often the server provides that page).

The WP RSS feed doesn’t appear to have ads or j/s content to track anything and possibly your RSS reader will cache even the images (that are embedded in the articles) so they’re not even able to use image loads to see how many people are reading via RSS.

Basically, if you enjoy WP articles (and baring Word of God messages about tracking), I would strongly recommend clicking through to read them (I believe they have lots of javascript running to track how far you scroll down an article and how long it takes you to read it but obviously none of that works if you have NoScript/etc blocking client-side code execution) so the powers that be can see your activity reading the site.


A thing I learned early on in life that has stuck with me and I wish for others to take to heart is do not put people on a pedestal that you do not personally know as it will come back to break your heart and cause you a lot of pain when you find out something you did not want to know about them. It’s not wrong to admire someone and appreciate the work they have done but if you cross the line of feeling like you personally know someone that you have never met it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate.

In regards to these events I’m very conflicted about how I feel about the people who apparently knew but said nothing. I would never want to suggest that we should blame the victim but if you find out someone is abusing others, especially in a sexual manner I feel you have the moral right to say something in a way that keeps a victim and the details that happened to them confidential. You do not need to oust the victim but passing along a heads up to those who can do something to maybe start looking into them would be a good idea in my mind. I would hope that people like Austin have enough respect from their fellow journalists and fans that if they made a public or private statement saying “Please be aware that I have had people tell me in private that Nick Robinson is sexually abusing others, I can not provide proof at this time out of respect for the victims but please be wary when interacting with him” they would listen and take his word on it. Having the courage alone to stand up and say something like that without any proof might be enough to inspire others who do have proof to come forward as has been the case over the weekend. Would you get burned at the internet stake for saying such a thing without having “receipts”? Most definitely but if it lead to end of someone abusing others then isn’t worth it?

The only thing I can sit here and think of right now as someone who has a younger sister that liked Nicks work is what if this had progressed even further to the point it became physical (if it hasn’t already)? If it had reached that point and I knew I could have prevented it if I had only spoken out I do not think I could live with myself. This probably is not fair of me to blame Austin for but right now I can’t help but be upset that he knew something and did not say anything (as far as I am aware).


When someone comes to you with a private concern and tells you explicitly not to share it with anyone, the moral thing to do is not to then go and vagueblog about it, it’s to respect their request and keep it private. Especially if what you’ve heard is not direct reports but second and third hand rumours.


The moral thing to do should be to not only protect past and present victims but prevent potential future victims. What if this had turned into physical sexual assault? Could you live with yourself if you had the knowledge that someone was a sexual predator and did nothing to prevent someone getting assaulted?

If I woke up one day to find out a friend of mine sexually assaulted someone and a friend had known prior that this person had a history of doing things like and had stood by and just let it happen without warning anyone I don’t think I could ever look them in the eye again.

Maybe my emotions are getting the better of me but the idea that you should do nothing but keep it hush hush is disgusting.


I think people were warning other people, it’s just that we didn’t hear about any of this. I think saying that those who knew some things in this situation did “nothing” is incorrect, we outsiders simply didn’t know that anything was happening. There are tweets amidst all this that refer to “warning” others, because yeah, of course someone who knows some things isn’t gonna let a person they know walk into a bad situation completely unknowingly. The bottom line is this was kept hush-hush from -us-, the fans/consumers/whatever. Why? That’s probably really complicated.