A humane, non-minimizing look at men suffering what could rightly be called a mass delusion, one that has already led to several instances of murder and terrorism. But what seems to be a psychopathology unto itself, is in fact a symptom of something much bigger and worse. It has become clear that incels who act out, as Alek Minassian did, are NOT lone wolves. Even if they each seem to be acting alone, there is a cultish collectivity behind them. And its tendency is far-right, racist, antisemitic, misogynous…in short, FASCIST.
Even worse, they tend to pull each other back into the cult, goading one another to become more extreme, in what’s known as the crab bucket effect — a tendency among cult members to keep each other in the cult, so no one has to face the admittedly frightening prospect of suddenly thinking for oneself and facing a seemingly hostile outside world alone. Their identity depends on them being “outcasts” together. At a terrible price — hating themselves and each other as much if not more than they hate others outside of their group — they “belong” somewhere, often for the first time in their lives. It’s a bleak existence, and it’s little wonder that suicide (often following a murder or string of murders) is the only sure way out for so many of them.
But there is one unexpectedly hopeful bit, at the very end: When the reporter, Mark Kelley, confronts one of them with the detrimental effect his hate-rap videos are having on his audience, he admits that he’s been having second thoughts about it all…and soon thereafter, he announces that he’s “going dark”, ceasing to live-stream his rants, and deleting his Twitter account. Maybe that’s what this dangerous cult needs: deprogrammers who can confront its members and turn them away from the mutually-destructive crab-bucket environment of the online incel forums.