Online Blackshirts, McCarthyists and Pony Lovers

Since I’m in the weeds of research for a couple upcoming posts, I thought I’d lighten things up a bit (lighten up here referring to a general reduction of the amount of reading and information synthesis required to make cogent points). Over the last two years I’ve been in the unfortunate position to watch someone I used to talk to with frequency change from a well-intentioned, historically aware libertarian to a proud, self-identified pro-Trump fascist. At this point I follow them on Facebook for the window they provide in to the memes of the “Deplorables”.

There’s a storied tradition of edgelordery on the Internet by the Internet. “I did it for the lulz” has been used to handwave away the consequences of shitty online behavior since Usenet. But unlike many of the mythological trickster gods whose employment of bizarre or contradictory methods was key to imparting secret knowledge through provocation, online trolls are naught more than human beings.  Psychological studies have shown that at the heart of trolling is disinhibition. Though they may use the Janus mask of online persona and irony, the best interpretation of their behavior is to take the admittedly counter-intuitive approach of treating what they have to say with some seriousness (inasmuch as it reveals something about how the troll really feels).

If most of your interactions are inside your own bubble, it can be hard to believe that what you’re looking at is real. The November Surprise may have shaken that conviction, but convictions die hard. The sampling of pages the person I follow on Facebook likes and shares I’m about to show you isn’t intended to be a GREAT REVELATION so much as to reinforce how rank the stench is in the fetid swamp of the Alt-Right.

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