Finished reading Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right by Angela Nagle. It’s a quick read and very accessible. Learned a lot about parts of cyberculture that I didn’t know, and got a new awareness and perspective on the ones I was already familiar with. Overall the book is a call to action to abandon the stale cultural ideas of transgression as a good in itself because it supports the rise of the far-right in totality, and to build something new.


Nagle also impresses the point that the response to the utter liberation of transgression (in the alt-right, 4chan, fash, manosphere, etc) cannot be puritanical moralizing and more identitarian politics, as that was already the historical cyber-movement to which the alt-right was a reaction. It has to be something new.

But she also makes the point that you can’t out-transgress nazi hipsters. You can’t beat them by adopting their coded language and ironic use of memes, and style of out-grouping “normies” from whatever your online community happens to be. It just ends up supporting their cultural current.

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@rysiek Yes agreed, we are already seeing it begin to form!

Self-care, and community care too. Drawing from mutualist ideas.

Blocking and deplatforming does absolutely work as a counter tactic to the hate and abuse. But I am trying to reconcile that tactic with the idea of also accepting people as they are and allowing them to grow and learn from their mistakes. I haven’t quite figured out the alchemy yet.

@rysiek A critique raised in the book is that hard-line shutting people out for not being perfect was one of the failure modes of the online progressive left, to which the alt-light was a successful reaction, especially when it spilled onto college campuses and mainstream media.

@vortex_egg @rysiek this is the million dollar question of our times: how do you rehabilitate bigots and adjacents while containing their bigotry and disallowing them from bigotifying our platforms?

@vortex_egg @rysiek I've passed by this book alot but this all sounds interesting! the essay Exiting The Vampire Castle by Mark Fisher sounds like a similar take that I've read.

My rough personal take: education in the first few instances of mistakes or even malice from people who are otherwise 'fine'. Then obviously working up to just disconnecting from those people/groups if they seem highly toxic / unwilling to change. If they are actively working to harm others, direct sabotage is good.

@starcide @rysiek There’s a concept that I drew from Buddhism which is finding people “just as they are right now.” No one is perfect. If you demand cultural or ideological purity or perfection before someone can participate in your culture, or at risk of being expunged, then you won’t have enough people left working together to make a resilient community.

@rysiek @starcide Completely agreed. I’m most commenting in reaction to the kind of cyber communities that have taken an all or nothing approach, as discussed in the book.

@vortex_egg @rysiek a great way of putting it, I'm based in Buddhism and like other process philosophy approaches and try my best to avoid binary takes. Life is more fluid and complicated, change happens slowly and doesn't always go one direction, its more like growing a garden. Though its something I've had to learn slowly (again a process!) as when I was younger I was a very absolutist thinker too who was quick to make hot takes. Like @rysiek there was an alternative me who ended up alt-right.

@starcide @rysiek Yeah I constantly struggle with black and white thinking in part due to some unprocessed childhood traumas. Easy to forget to check myself.

Relevantly, at an earlier point in my life another version of me would have fallen down the alt-light rabbit hole if people in my community hadn’t accepted me as I was at the time and helped me steer myself in a different direction. If I had been completely ostracized then it would have gone very poorly for me

@vortex_egg @rysiek yea 20 years back I was really into that transgressive American style libertarianism that was popular on internet forums back then. If it wasn't for a good friend who put up with some daft shit I said and people had pushed me away I could totally have disappeared further down that rabbithole. I'm still quite transgressive+libertarian but 100% not in that way, much more tempered with wanting to care for people against authority, probably why I get on with Zen these days.

@vortex_egg @rysiek

I.e. acknowledge their worth as a person as separate from their bad behaviour. At least, that’s the starting point that immediately pops into my head.

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A bunch of technomancers in the fediverse. Keep it fairly clean please. This arcology is for all who wash up upon it's digital shore.