Content warning: racism, misogyny, animal cruelty
4chan is an imageboard where users post anonymously. It’s a simple premise, but within that ephemerality they’ve still made their mark on the web. They’ve been known to pull off stunts ranging from leaking celebrity nudes to calling in bomb threats, and from stealing jokes on Reddit to lighting kittens on fire. While its reputation precedes it, 4chan has a well earned spot in internet canon as a dangerous website for radical (predominantly white) young men.
I first started going on 4chan when I was thirteen years old. I fit every aspect of the cliche – skinny, geeky, white, asocial. I even had a fedora, for chrissakes. But that’s not really what that website is about – it’s about community. 4chan was like a catch-all for anyone who didn’t fit in. Or at least, anyone who didn’t fit in like they wanted to.
You begin to empathize with disgusting people. You’ll read the posts of men who are extremely sexually frustrated, who think the entire female gender is out to get them. You’ll read countless infographics, with phony divorce statistics to definitively prove that women just want ‘our’ money. You’ll see screencaps of Reddit posts about men getting cuckolded, willingly or not, to somehow confirm a general distrust of women and inspire disgust with weak, liberal men.
These faceless, angry radicals have now become your community. Put yourself in their position. Picture yourself as a young man who has no place in the ‘real’ world. You probably have no strong male role model. You probably have grown up in the apex of the internet age. You’re probably a bit of a nihilist already. It’s an easy choice.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg. The kind of stuff they post there is disgusting – beyond horrific. I watched a live pig get its head cut off with a chainsaw. I’ve seen a guy break one of his ribs to suck his own dick. People will casually post ‘jailbait’ (questionably aged girls) in lewd poses just to get a response.
I have no way of confirming this, but I believe that these images exist as a way to mentally break you down and make you more willing to accept outrageous claims.
They call it ‘the red pill’ or the ‘slippery slope’. This is the process of indoctrination that 4chan unleashes on people. It starts small, with a general distrust of women. It escalates into a jealousy of ‘Brads’ and ‘Tyrones,’ (jocks, and their more racially charged counterparts) anyone who is potentially more virile than you, and who can steal your mate.
The complexity of these beliefs only grows. The refugee crisis? It’s actually a ploy executed by top government officials to Islamize the west. Diversity in Hollywood? Celebration of the end of the white race. Mainstream media? Liberal bias, don’t even read it, it’s bought and sold. Interracial porn? That teaches people to have interracial relationships. Less white children means the end of the white race. Disagree with something? You’re a cuck, a jew, or a ‘rapefugee’.
While this sounds a bit more like Alex Jones than Adolf Hitler, do not be fooled. It’s a comprehensive political ideology that’s being forged underneath the surface of the web. These are the types of people who idolize murderers like Elliot Rodgers or Dylan Klebold. In response to a post about the twin tragedies of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, one commenter replied: ‘two nukes not enough.’ And now these same people are being emboldened and validated in their terroristic beliefs.
The only thing that snapped me out of it was my own vaguely liberal sensitivities. I was reading the Wikipedia article of Richard Spencer and clicked through to one of his influences. ‘An American Neo-Nazi,’ it read. All I could do was nervously laugh. This was where these ideas came from? From Nazism? Any type of morbid curiosity I had faded away – I suddenly realized that even being intrigued by this type of thought was a tacit endorsement.
It turns out that nothing was safe from their toxic beliefs. Stefan Molyneux interviews Nazis. The Radix Journal (Richard Spencer’s website) is littered with fascist references. Even neutral actors like Joe Rogan give white supremacists such as Milo Yiannopoulos a platform.
The simple truth is that young, white men are being radicalized online. It’s everywhere. It’s subversive. It’s real.
I felt that I should acknowledge what happened in some way, so I wrote this. It might not end the crisis of hatred surrounding the globe, but I thought it might help. If you know someone who’s spending too much time online, looking at fake news, sharing racist memes, talk to them. We need to reach out to these fragile people and get them out of a cycle of hate. The editors here at the Talon have recommended lifeafterhate.org, which, after visiting, I can recommend as well. It might be an uphill battle, talking to someone who spends all night on a website like 4chan. You probably have someone like me in your circle of friends right now, teetering on the edge.