This is the second in a series on what I have started referring to as “2nd Wave Internet Skepticism”. 2nd wave internet skepticism seems to fold tribalism in under the guise of critical thinking. It includes a lot of rhetoric that I first saw in the “Men’s Rights Activism” movement. The same rhetoric can be seen in the modern neo-nazi movement known as the “alt right”. These guys (and I do mean guys, mostly white guys) seem to think that because they’ve figured out that 9/11 truth and chemtrails are bullshit that anything they dislike, ranging from feminism to trans rights and beyond, is also bullshit. I imagine many skeptics will disagree with the ideas I am presenting here, and that’s fine. I have found that the cult of 2nd wave internet skepticism generally hates criticism even though many of those in the movement suggest that “safe spaces” are ruining everything. Hypocrisy and perceptions of one’s own victimhood are on full display in this, the war of really bad ideas.
The Fracture: Badgers vs Eels
I have run with a “gang” of trolls since, well since quite some time ago. Having a group of trolls can be useful if you want to, for example, cover a facebook page in friggin goats. At first, for me, it was all in the context of left-right politics, but more recently, as listeners to my podcast likely know, I have taken to running with skeptics and neo-rationalists. Instead of going specifically after conservatives, the “target” is that guy or gal in the comment thread who calls you a “sheeple” while parroting the exact same shit that every other conspiracy theorist has told you in the past. Usually things are pretty smooth sailing and fun in the skeptic troll groups as is always the case in the best fuckin chemtrails group on the internet: CAKU. But not always, sometimes 2nd Wave Internet Skepticism rears its ugly head, and sometimes, as I am about to tell you, it can be leveraged and manipulated.
A while back, I ran with some skeptic trolls in a secret facebook group called The Tinfoil Hat Gallery. At first it was exactly what it sounds like, a gallery full of nutty conspiracy stories. It was also a place where we planned actions, “Badgerings”, of other facebook groups and pages. “Badgering” is the same concept as “Goating” and can happen 1 of 2 ways generally. 1) Trolls make a honeypot group with a conspiracy loon sounding name and wait till there are thousands of members, and then change the script, cover it in Badgers, and start demanding that the conspiracy theorists back up their crazy claims with evidence. 2) Trolls go into a conspiracy group with fake profiles that seemingly agree with the conspiracy theorists, gain the trust of the admins of a group or page, gain admin access and then kick off the other admins and moderators, and then, well the page is covered with Badgers. I glossed over some of the specifics, but I really don’t want this article to be 100,000 words.
Then the “Eels” showed up. The Eels were ostensibly another set of trolls, another confederation so to speak. They claimed to be “for social justice” and were targeting the Badgers, trying to leverage the stereotype of skeptics, that we’re all straight white men (the characterization isn’t necessarily too far off base, but Tinfoil Hat Gallery was a diverse place at the time) . Almost all of the rhetoric from the Eels was based on this perception, or maybe the reality, that skeptic groups are simply a straight white sausage fest. The Badgers were essentially being called bigots, but not in so many words, it was soft peddled quite effectively I might say. While it was happening, I was telling the Badgers exactly what was going on, but I don’t think anyone really listened. It was so obvious to me what was happening and what the Eels were trying to accomplish. The Eels were trying to turn the Badgers into a caricature, and they did.
Instead of telling the Eels to fuck off and then going back to Badger business, the Badger leadership went into full paranoia mode. In this mode, the Badgers decided that “Social Justice Warriors” were on the "enemies list" now. All the sudden there were members of the group, many of whom were admins or “leaders” (I use that term loosely here), attacking other group members for being “SJWs”. The content in the group started changing from almost exclusively stories about conspiracy to these stories we all see about some 19 year old college student with blue hair being “triggered” by something. Any idiot can find a story about someone acting the fool with 5 minutes of searching on the internet, but of course these 19 year olds with blue hair did in fact represent a threat to those who administered the Tinfoil Hat Gallery in this, the war of bad ideas.
I stayed in The Tinfoil Hat Gallery to try to argue the case that social justice is actually a good thing. Who wouldn’t want to live in a more just society? Well, as time went on, it became quite obvious that I was not persuading the admins and the members who were barking the loudest that this assault on “social justice” had shit all to do with skepticism. I hadn't put a name to it yet, but the Tinfoil Hat Gallery had gone 2nd Wave Internet Skeptic. They’d figured out that Chemtrails, 9/11 Truth, Anti-Vaccine etc are bullshit, and since they didn't like “social justice” movements ranging from Black Lives Matter to Trans Rights Activism, those must be bullshit too. Because critical thinking. Okay.
As the anti-trans posts started to increase in frequency, as the posts punching down on the disabled increased, and as rumors of really bad behavior, including doxxing, started floating around, I lost my nerve. I am in fact a gay dude and I don’t like seeing anti LGBT stuff, especially in a movement that is supposed to be based on critical thinking and science. There’s no scientific reason to shit all over trans people, there’s plenty of shit falling down on that community from other parts of our culture already.
So being who I am, I took stock of the situation, looked at who the admins of the group were, thought through some of the personal stuff people had shared in the group, and I figured out who the weakest link was. A hero to all virgins and a scourge to social justice, *name redacted*. Dude was full on calling other people “betas” and “cucks” by this point. But dude was no fucking “alpha male” himself. He had complained about not having a good job, not having a good place to stay, not having had sex in quite some time, and a host of other "non-alpha" personal struggles in the not too distant past. So, every Friday afternoon, when I had some down time at my office, I would post things in the group like “*name redacted* has not been laid in 1825 days” That’s 5 years. I didn’t know it to be true, but it sure did the trick, so I imagine it was close enough to the truth at the time (maybe it still is?). It took a few Fridays of me doing this before I was booted from the group for questioning the prescribed dogma, and of course for suggesting that *name redacted* was not very popular with the ladies, which he was not, and surely still is not.
After creating their own “safe space” by getting rid of people like me, people who weren’t so desperate for the acceptance of group with leaders who hadn’t been laid in 1825 days, they really ramped up their harassment of people who were not so thick skinned… but we can go over that in the next part of this series, which may or may not explain the significance of the image below.