Loss in the digital age: Internet cults

You know, I’m really glad I’ve made my personal website be some blog instead of another hipster’s “homepage” with nothing on it or links to social media pages that’s bloated Javascript hell. I’d rather be “myself”, and blogs make this really easy, especially when you can just fire MS word up and type away, and tonight is one of these moments. Today I’m going to talk about losing friends in the digital age, and this is something I’ve noticed ever since I became “active” online back in 2007.

When I was younger, friends online would simply disappear and not talk to me anymore out of the blue, or they’d just make new accounts to leave their past and all their friends behind. Chances are, they likely went on to live the “normie” lifestyle, probably going to a college, making a social media account with their real name, and just ignoring the past few years of their life like it was a fun time or some shit. I guess you could call the period from 2007-2012 in my life like that. I’d meet new friends all the time, but they’d never be too stable, moving on in life somewhere. I never really questioned it, I just found new friends, and that was that.

Eventually I started making more “stable” friends, friends you could talk to about anything really, or mostly being single topic focused since I learned online that everyone hates venty people. I mean when you air your depression out to the internet, you come across as nothing more than a Tumblr girl, so with nothing going on in life, my conversations really became single topic focused at times if I were leading the conversation, oftentimes not appealing to “outsiders” and this behavior got worse and worse, especially as group calls became commonplace with me. 2012-14 was also when the internet started to undergo massive shifts in how people acted, and it also gave a new meaning to the phrase losing a friend.

See, in the “real world” you’d lose friends for lots of reasons, especially if they weren’t stable, but it might not hit you that hard unless it was something tragic, like a sudden medical death, an overdose, a car crash, a murder, or an alcohol fueled attempt at imitating Jackass. It’d be unpredictable, and yet it’d shock you. You’d lapse into depression, and maybe if they were close to you, you’d decide to “speak out” so whatever happened would never happen again. If it’s from something else well, it might end on a bad note and you likely wouldn’t talk to them again, especially if it involves drug addiction of some sort. So whatever, you’ll move on you tell yourself. Down another ice cold beer and play some more video games for another night, you say, it’ll go away.

In the digital age though, there’s been a worrying phenomenon I’ve noticed, and its people being lured into cults that operate in plain sight. I can’t name many of them besides the umbrella cause of far left “social justice” because you know, if you say too much on the internet nowadays you get canned. Just ask Alex Jones of Infowars, people were saying when the Nazi website Daily Stormer got censored and deplatformed hard it was only going to be them, and now Alex Jones is having social media accounts all banned in coordination, all at once, and it didn’t help there were some big names pushing for this. I prefer to lay low after I’ve seen the internet turn into a warzone, so I’ll tell you, once you see this type of behavior you’ll know exactly which groups I’m talking about, maybe after a friend goes down this route or your sister is threatening to assault you because you said the wrong [REDACTED]. And yes, the latter happened with one of my friends.

Anyhow here’s what happens. Either because said person is depressed and living a shitty, unhealthy lifestyle, or because it’s hip and trendy to join said group, they do it along with their friends. One day, you’ll join voice chats, go on Twitter and whatnot and see sudden changes in their social media profile out of the blue, and completely out of character. You’ll find yourself questioning this, and trying to convince them, but with absolutely no luck whatsoever. See, your friend started hanging out with a new crowd, and without your knowledge, or everyone in a server you’re in decided to join this crowd, and they’re already part of it. Maybe they joined this group because they wanted to get friends desperately and be seen with the cool kids, or maybe because their iPhone told them it was hip and trendy and joining this crowd would make you someone who “isn’t a bigot”. Either way though, they’re deep in it and there’s no pulling them out of it now, they’ve chosen to follow the leader like a good little robot.

You can try to convince them to leave it, but it’s no use. They’ve gotten their well-prepared talking points out, with language that they normally don’t use, and they’re ready to repeat it to you like a robot. It’s like talking to a brick wall, you’re not going to convince them when their reddit meme pages told them they were correct, and when they’re well prepared to replace you, a longtime friend, with some new friends online who will tell them “yes” to anything they do (they call it validation), and only whine about capitalism despite bearing it’s fruits when they use their expensive gaming laptop, and watch TV shows produced by mega corporations on their extra big TV. You stare in an awkward manner as it truly sets in. Your friend has changed seemingly overnight, and he’s not the same anymore. You’re left to pick up the pieces, asking yourself questions like “What got into him to make him do this” and “why did I waste so much time with him online when he’d turn into….this”.

Sometimes you’ll only realize this when they’ve blocked you on all social media accounts, since your opinions are “problematic”. You’ll wonder “what the fuck dude” until you see their social media profile, then you’ll either go through the same thought process or think “Oh, he turned into one of those people. What the fuck man?” You’ll find out you’ve been accused of wrongthink, and have now been declared by him and maybe his friends as a suppressive person. After all, their ideology told them to cut off those who don’t follow it from their friend circle if they’re not willing to accept them, and this also leads to lots of hatred towards parents, especially if they’re “Christian bigots”. After all, who needs your parents when you have a brand new chosen family that’ll take care of everything because you got kicked out of your house for being a piece of shit who gets into arguments all day and can’t make a life for himself.

The worrying part comes after this, as these people tend to act all petty and catty at times, especially once they join cults. They’re happy to throw former friends under the bus, as long as it’s for “the cause”. Leaking private texts and voice calls they might have recorded? Check. Making up callout posts about you to rub your reputation through the mud? Check. Trying to sabotage everything you’ll ever do in life for their own personal satisfaction? Check. Just remember, if it’s for the cause, its fair game. One of my favorite tweets to come out of the whole GamerGate shitstorm back in 2014 was this tweet, where a failed internet movie reviewer on the far left straight up said, “there are no bad tactics, just bad targets”. This is great, because it’s one of their own stating their mindset, that as long as it’s for the cause, you can do anything to the people online you don’t like.

But once the dust clears well, you still have to swallow that fact. You have to swallow the hard fact that your friends are no longer the same, indoctrinated by their own electronic devices, as you try to find new friends, hoping this one doesn’t end up going down the same path. Sometimes there are warning signs, signs anyone familiar can pick up on, like a tweet or two from months ago, but some of them are clever and keep their ideology under wraps, only revealing it out of the blue one day, and this happened to another friend. He was sending me private messages complaining about what was going on, finding it hard to swallow that a friend would [REDACTED], turning into someone who would only brag about how they were [REDACTED] out of the blue, not even showing any signs of [REDACTED]. It’s even harder to swallow once you meet a parent of one of those types of people who doesn’t approve of their lifestyle, not only was she shitting on it but I got the impression the only way she would disown her son more is if her son shot up a school or joined ISIS. The scariest part of this all is when you see teenagers, and even kids getting lured into this. It’s like giving kids iPhones and tablets and laptops when they’re young ruins them for life, and stuff like this is why, and if I ever had a kid I would restrict their internet usage at young ages. I’d rather have a successful son or daughter than a waste who’s only good at working at Starbucks or 7-11, who spends all day on social media wasting away their life…and never reproducing ever due to that.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but once you do, it’s easier to pick up the pieces and find new friends online. The internet has millions of people online, you’ll find new friends eventually, and you’ll feel better once you find a stable friend circle. Or better, go outside and socialize. Take this from an internet addict, you do not want to turn into these people at all, and they can remain a bad influence, that is if they don’t cut you off first.

Anyhow, that’s my essay of the night. I tried to be more descriptive, but sometimes you can’t be too descriptive, especially when certain groups will try to ruin your life online. All I can say is to stay safe out there; you don’t want to be caught with a friend who backstabbed you because of a cult he joined. Keep your head up online, you’ll need to in an internet where social media bans are handed out like detentions and where failures act like they run the world.

Jake

Jake

I'm a purple cat :V

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