Friday, July 19, 2019

Reading list: the dark side of meme culture

I realized that many of the young reporters who initially helped amplify the white nationalist “alt right” by pointing and laughing at them, had all come up in and around internet culture-type circles. They may not have been trolls themselves, but their familiarity with trolling subculture, and experience with precisely the kind of discordant swirl featured in the aforementioned early-2000s image dump, perfectly prepped them for pro-Trump shitposting. They knew what this was. This was just trolls being trolls. This was just 4chan being 4chan. This was just the internet. Those Swastikas didn’t mean anything. They recognized the clothes the wolf was wearing, I argued, and so they didn’t recognize the wolf.
This was how the wolf operated: by exploiting the fact that so many (white) people have been trained not to take the things that happen on the internet very seriously. They operated by laundering hate into the mainstream through “ironically” racist memes, then using all that laughter as a radicalization and recruitment tool.

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