The myth of the red pill

But the Internet is at least as much of a constrictor of thought for the redpilled as it is a facilitator, if not more so. Many of the redpilled think of themselves as possessing a kind of unique energy, unavailable to the rest of the Right. It is quite easy to convince yourself of that if you spend all day marinating in carefully curated digital environments, associating mostly with people who agree with you, and letting your real-world interactions, such as they are, be flavored either actively or passively by your experiences online. Insularity is an ancient human temptation, one the Internet has, surprisingly, exacerbated. Reddit, for example, consists of a series of compartmentalized communities (“subreddits”) designed exactly for this. Yes, you can switch between them . . . or you can stay in one or a handful of similar ones to the exclusion of all others. And from there, you can become convinced, in concert with other like minds, that it is the world, and that those who do not belong to it simply do not understand. Ergo, what you are doing represents a higher reality — once again, the gnostic impulse.

A true gnosticism requires not just an elect possessing esoteric knowledge, but also an enemy in charge of the physical world — and an arena for spiritual combat. For many of the redpilled, that world is social media, particularly Twitter. Inspired, no doubt, by former president Donald Trump, and by a misbegotten view that Trump’s tweets were a definitive aspect of his political success, they view this realm as a battlefield, chasing its latest controversies and starting their own. The Internet may have begun with the promise of freewheeling sharing of information and interaction, but in the realm of the redpilled, Twitter is a place for collectivized, digital mass action. Believing that tweets are a serious and desirable form of political activism, they glory in the dopamine rush of likes and retweets, call for ratios of opinions they deem unacceptable, and take all of these things as signs that they are advancing their cause instead of adding tiny bits of ember to a fiery digital hellscape.