Incels, or ‘involuntarily celibates’ highlight some of the internet’s darker echo chambers. In light of the recent Toronto van rampage, the internet has blown up with talks about this fringe group. But who exactly are these people? And how does their mind work?
Who Are Incels?
Incels are a group of people (mostly guys) who’ve are deeply distrustful and hateful of women. They’ve come to grow a distorted mindset, blaming women for denying them the right to call sexual intercourse. They believe that it’s completely out of their control – hence the term involuntarily celibate. They typically possess low self-esteem, high feelings of self-loathing, anger, and are becoming increasingly violent.
Incels divide the general population within two groups. There’s the Chad’s, the term given for muscular and more charming men who oppress the incels. For the other gender, there’s the Stacy. These are the women who manage to both be sluts and won’t sleep with the poor incels. Incels believe that it isn’t their fault that they’re not attractive, socially awkward, overweight or suffering from mental illness, but rather that ‘Chad’ is out there stealing their women. Rejected? Stupid Stacy won’t let them get laid. The mind of the incel doesn’t work the same way yours does.
Incels often reference Morpheus offering Neo the choice between a red or blue pill in The Matrix. Take the blue pill, and wake up with no recollection of the Matrix with no memory of what happened. Take the red pill, and see life for what it really is.
The problem is that incels and other misogynistic movements have hijacked the term ‘red pill’. They’ve rewritten it to be that only the red pilled see the way sexual dynamics ‘really work’, and view anyone who doesn’t see it their way as lesser. Red pill commenter ‘John Doe’ writes:
“Red pill is about truth, observing truth, not falling for a line of crap. Seeing how intricate life is, how mathematical the universe is, how it is run by a set of laws that are irreversible, makes me think how could any person be so blind as to think this all came about by chance, that life somehow evolved from non-life. How could anybody be so stupid, so blind? How could anybody be so stupid about women, too? I once was blind, but now I see.”
Just like everything else, incels have taken it a step further and developed the ‘black pill’, meaning “I will now espouse violence, hatred and misogyny.”
Incels on Reddit
The /r/incel subreddit started out as a place for sexually frustrated guys to vent about how they couldn’t get laid. Over time, it grew to a weird place. Not only did they become more misogynistic, but they started to plan “rules” for their new order, such as all girls being forced to marry at 15. See the image below.
Yeah. It’s all very rapey. Incels upvoted posts that only reinforced their twisted stereotypes and downvoted anything that they didn’t agree with. The sub caught the attention of the wider Reddit audience, forming /r/inceltears, a place where the worst offenders were showcased. Redditors tried to help them out of their twisted echo chamber, but found that the incel would rather stay a part of their toxic community rather than work on themselves. The sub was eventually shut down for promoting overwhelmingly toxic and violent thinking, removing the incels from their home.
Toronto and the Elliot Rodger Manifesto
In 2014, Elliot Rodger released his infamous manifesto. At a whopping 141 pages, it showed…well, not much other than his ability to ramble. He later released a 7-minute rant with the intention of punishing women for what he felt were denying him his rights, and punishing men, for having what he didn’t. He then proceeded to kill six people and injure 14 more in Isla Vista, California. Incels threw fuel on the fire by openly applauding his actions. Reddit cracked down on them, hard. Any incel-like comment was met with further negativity, driving them further down the hole. After the /r/incel subreddit was banned, incels tried forming new versions of their subreddit that were quickly squashed. It wasn’t until /r/braincels that they found a new home. It’s still misogynistic, but pales in comparison to the fetid swamp that was /r/incels.
Back to the present day. Just a few days ago, an individual rented a van and drove it through the New York business district, killing 10 and injuring 16 pederstrians. He referred to himself as an incel, posting about the community and Elliot Rodgers on April 23rd:
“Private (Recruit) Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
A New Discussion
These attacks have sparked a fierce discussion over the internet. Is there a trend among young groups where internet groups have gone from being supportive to hate-groups? Should discussions over the internet be moderated more strictly? The conversation has been held before on Reddit, after infamous subreddit /r/fatpeoplehate was banned from promoting hate-speech, and tore the community apart. It’s also been debated on whether the incel group had any legitimate claims. Conservative commentator Robert Douthat wrote a controversial piece on the New York Times, stating that:
“There is an alternative, conservative response, of course — namely, that our widespread isolation and unhappiness and sterility might be dealt with by reviving or adapting older ideas about the virtues of monogamy and chastity and permanence and the special respect owed to the celibate.”
Fortunately, the internet tried to nip this line of thinking in the bud as quickly as possible. He was accused of a) offering a platform to the views of the Incel movement, b) disregarding the misogyny of the Incel movement, and c) blaming the victims. People are starting to talk about incels more often, and that can easily go wroing.
For starters, there’s a concern that listing the names of ‘famous’ Incels risks provoking future attacks, similar to how the media has made school shooters famous. The scare is that putting Incels in the spotlight effectively ‘martyrs’ them – glorifying them in the eyes of fellow basement dwellers, and further reinforcing their point of view. While /r/Braincels has issued a statement saying they don’t condone the violence, Incel.me, one of the larger incel communities beside Reddit, hasn’t apologized. In fact, they’re having a field day.
There’s no doubt that incels are under attack. Even on a corporate level – former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao posted this McCarthyist tweet calling for the CEO’s to root out the incels within their company.
CEOs of big tech companies: You almost certainly have incels as employees. What are you going to do about it?
— Ellen K. Pao (@ekp) May 2, 2018
Many are angry at incels for the violence and harm that they’ve caused to others. But is a knee-jerk reaction of answering hate with more hate the right path to take? No, says a reformed incel in an article “Confessions of a Reformed Incel”. The user writes that the issue should be examined “without the polarization we see in today’s politics of left and right, where each side screams at the other saying ‘you’re wrong’ and nothing happens except a race to the bottom.” Isolation brought them to this point, and only an open conversation can get them out.
What’s your take? Do you believe that incels can be reasoned with? Let us know in the comments below.