Here’s an interesting article about the Red Pill cult, focusing mostly on people who have left it. There’s a common thread: lonely young men who are socially awkward and find themselves in a group that tells them all their problems are caused by an evil, alien force, that is, women.
Jack became involved with the Red Pill when he was 23, and had been single for a “long” time. “I was numb, lonely and desperate,” he says. “It was a terrible time in my life.”
Though Jack only spent two months on the subreddit, he quickly fell in with anti-feminist and libertarian rhetoric. “An uncomfortable misogynistic streak grew within me,” he says. “At one point [I] thought that Donald Trump was a good candidate for President.”
But then, unfortunately, the article falls into bothsiderism.
Like many of the places we frequent online, the Red Pill has become an echo chamber. The psychologist I spoke to, Mike Wood, told me this can lead to people adopting more and more extreme views. “If you’re in some sort of a group that defines itself by its opinions, then people will get more and more polarised over time,” he says. “Individuals will try to conform to what the group mandates.” This is true of not just the Red Pill, but its opponents. While radical feminists on Tumblr, for example, become more extreme in their views, so too does the subreddit. In many ways, the extremes of each group justify one another’s existence in their minds.
OK, I’ll bite. You’ve just written an article that describes men who characterize half of humanity as evil parasites, who find unity in demonizing women in absurd ways, who get brainwashed into voting for Donald Trump, who advocate for murdering women and in far too many cases actually do so. They’re members of a Reddit subgroup with 200,000 members. It’s a fucking horror show.
Where’s the equivalency? The lazy shorthand of generically referring to “radical feminists on Tumblr” is not evidence and is not convincing. You’ve got incels going on murder sprees, you’ve got the École Polytechnique massacre in 1989 — misogyny has a body count. Who have the Tumblr lesbians slaughtered lately?
I agree that online tribalism can polarize and lead to in-group conformity. Those are common psychological phenomena. But the red pill cult has crystallized around ideas that dehumanize women and justify lies and hatred, and it does us no favor to synonymize that with every social group ever. Especially when Tumblr feminists seem to have a far better sense of humor than the redpillers.