Folks, we need to talk about your sons. The UK has seen a 74% increase in far-right referrals to the government’s anti-radicalization program, and similar numbers are seen in America and other western nations as well. The majority of the hate incidents are caused by boys and young men led astray and radicalized into the far right by toxic online rabbit holes.
The main problem is that, while our governments and NGOs are doing excellent work trying to stamp out hate, they simply don’t have the human resources and agility to educate about early onset far right radicalization. Adult folks simply aren’t hip to the esoterica of zoomer culture and that goes triply when dealing with shadowy darkwebs like 4chan.
So let’s get to it. We’ve talked to a panel of antiracist zoomer influencers (they chose not to be identified in case of backlash) and compiled a list of lesser known signs of right-wing extremism that are alarmingly amiss from government and NGO materials. If you spot any combination of two or more of these warning signs, you need to seek help with the resources attached at the bottom and you need to seek it fast.
Using archives, archiving news articles
This “practice” started with the misogynist 2014 GamerGate harassment campaign to remove all women from gaming. Basically, misogynists, racists, and assorted undesirables all share the conspiratorial belief that you can’t trust journalists, and that you should deprive them of the article clicks they desperately need to put food on the table.
Take a look at your son’s bookmarks and be concerned if you see extremism-weaponized websites like “archive.is” or “wayback machine.” If it’s hard to get access, here’s a tip: ask him to send you a link to a news article and see if he wraps the article in a weird URL or domain name that has nothing to do with the newspaper — the tell-tale sign of archiving.
Please note that archiving websites aren’t far right in and of themselves, and do have several legitimate uses. The problematics revolve around their weaponization against journalists, who serve as the frontline guardians of our sacred democracy.
Preoccupation with physical fitness, nutrition, and exercise — and not the yoga kind
Fascists are obsessed with male physical aesthetics and athleticism, and we’re obviously not talking about yoga. If your child is going to gyms, that means he’s already consorting with the far right and absorbing ridiculous nazi poster-inspired ideals. It’s not a coincidence that the gym is the usual meeting place for the Proud Boys terror group: studies have shown that gym bros are right-wing assholes. Don’t believe me; believe the studies — that’s just science for ya.
Nutrition is another key diagnostic factor. While normal health conscious individuals will buy organic greens from the farmer’s market, these guys try to figure out how best to eat a deer raw to follow some imaginary stone age diet or other decidedly non-vegan scheme. Shunning soy has also been shown to be a strong right-wing indicator, so look out for derisive use of terms for health adjacent groups like “soy boy” and “vegan.”
Exaggerated aversion to guilty pleasures
There is nothing wrong with staying away from drugs or alcohol or pornography, but if a young person considers abstinence an actual virtue — something to be proud of and rub in others’ face like the misogynistic purity rings hawked by crazed evangelists — alarm bells should go off.
The link between the far right and porn avoidance (“no-fapping”) in particular is extremely well documented:
In late 2018, New Statesman tech writer Sarah Manavis described an “insidious” online trend: men challenging each other not to masturbate. If they did not ejaculate (or “nut”) for a month, they would complete “No Nut November” (Manavis 2018). She warned that behind this “risible comradery” lay far-right movements such as the Proud Boys
Try dropping porn terms like “butt breeding” and “silver daddy” around him and see if he finds them funny or awkward — a healthy reaction showing that he consumes at least some porn. A lack of reaction could be troubling if combined with other radicalization signs.
Wants to, or already works with, Artificial Intelligence
Amazon recently had to scrap their AI recruiting tool because they discovered it showed bias against women. Google discovered that the only way to get its AI to not tag Black people in photos as gorillas is to wipe the concept of gorillas off the AI’s mind entirely. Microsoft’s “Tay” AI that interacted with people on Twitter turned into a full-blown nazi within days. Harvard scientists have found AI can recognize race from X-rays — and they don’t know how. An MIT study blares that AI is shockingly racist and sexist, and scholars are hard at work trying to figure out why that seems to happen every time.
Even now, at time of writing, a story just broke where Facebook asked users if they would like to “keep seeing videos about Primates” after they had watched a video of a Black man. (Facebook immediately disabled the AI feature.)
You don’t have to rub many braincells together to figure out why the far right would be slithering into bed with this wicked technology. In fact, an archive search of terrorist darkweb site 4chan reveals that posts praising AI as “based AI” (based here meaning cool/strong/alpha) number no less than 16,978 at the time of writing. Was the Roko’s basilisk thought experiment right — only with the asterisk that the computer god being willed into existence is Hitler 2.0?
The computer science to AI racism pipeline can start with relatively innocent things like having a laptop or desktop computer, which can lead to programming, which often leads to AI. Please let your representative and/or faculty head know that more research is needed on this radicalization pipeline.
Exaggerated interest in history, country, culture, tradition, the constitution
Tradition isn’t bad per se, but far right nut jobs make an art form out of bringing the worst parts of the past into the modern age, while of course being completely oblivious to the fact that ancient tribes were socialist matriarchies who lived in peace with one another. Unless your child wants to become a history professor, displaying an exaggerated interest in right-wing adjacent values is a strong indicator of already being well down the far-right rabbit hole.
Obsession with cryptocurrency
Yes, it could be that your child just happened to grow up a lot faster than his peers and wants to “get rich.” But while all cryptocurrency aficionados are not far right extremists, all far right extremists are cryptocurrency aficionados. Online undesirables nurture a shared grudge against trusted democratic institutions, and that goes double for the banking system that they mistakenly believe will end if people trade doggycoins instead of US dollars.
No wonder then that the cryptocurrency space is so toxic. We have reported extensively on this problem in the past.
Unhealthy preoccupation with the other F-word
Dislike of “post-modernism,” “pegging,” and other far-right scarecrows that aren’t realsies
“Post-modernism” is a far-right conspiracy theory that says that anything that isn’t immediately beautiful or logical to their limited minds was in fact created by secret communist agents to kill the “white” “race.” We kid you not. Doing a deep dive on each of these terms is beyond the scope of this article, but commit them to memory so you can stay on alert.
Claiming to love nature and cis white females in wheat fields for some reason
Nature is good, and we must protect it, but let’s not kid ourselves. Far right ideology has a view of nature that is radically different from our own. Whereas we fight climate change, far right ideologues have a bizarre, almost sexual fascination with cis white females in wheat fields (what’s that about?).
The bookshelf is filling up with creepy material
Healthy children and teenagers are interested in video games and having fun, and can enjoy books as well (that’s great!). But if your child or teenager’s bookshelf is suddenly seeing an influx of “classical western” literature (or history, as mentioned in warning sign #5), then chances are it’s actually far right ideology downloaded from Pewdiepie.
Yes, that’s right; the silly Swedish youtuber. The video game loving funnyman has taken a dark turn and started doing weekly “book review” videos where he orders his underage troops to read right-wing adjacent books that usually shouldn’t be read outside of critical scholarly contexts. Pewdiepie’s favorite author is of course Yukio Mishima, an anti-marxist and imperialist fascist. Need I say more?
A Pewdiepie-style haircut
Oh boy. I know the criteria for diagnosis is “two or more of these warning signs,” but this ghastly haircut is to far right sickness as dying of cancer is to cancer. The moment you see your child’s top starting to look like the Swedish video man, abandon all hope. You ignored your child’s symptoms and the far right tumor ate its entire body.
This is no longer your child. It is now a golem serving the islamophobic, antisemitic, racist, transphobic, sexist machinations of creepy internet guys who can’t get laid and want the world to burn.
Being a parent is stressful and fraught with difficult decisions. If you in your best judgement and with the best information available to you have diagnosed your child or teenager with right-wing extremism, yesterday is the time to contact the proper authorities. The sooner you act, the more of a chance you have of salvaging the human in your child.