Tinder, incels, killings, Peterson

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There are many things in the modern world that scare and confuse me – GDPR, bitcoin, and whatever is going on in that Childish Gambino video to name but three.  If any of these things come up in conversation, I usually just nod and say ‘indeed’ or possibly ‘but is it a bubble?’ and hope that that I don’t sound like an out of touch fuddy duddy, which is exactly what I am.

One modern invention that I wish was around in my youth is the dating app Tinder. Back in my day the only application we had was alcohol – which we applied liberally – so a forum where you can meet a partner without the expense or gastrointestinal horrors of 15 pints seems like a piece of the dystopian present that I can root for. Of course, it’s sod all use to me, as I have been decommissioned from active service for 17 years now, but I still marvel at how much easier life must be now for the bright young things who simply have to swipe left or right to find a mate, or even multiple mates. However, it would appear that my perception of Tinder as a hookup hotspot isn’t exactly deserved.

The journal Personality And Individual Differences has published a study by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology that suggests Tinder maybe full of people looking for short term flings, but they aren’t necessarily have any more success than the desperadoes swarming your local watering hole.

The researchers studied the activities of 641 students aged between 19 and 29 and how they behaved specifically in relation to picture based mobile dating apps such as Tinder. Some had used such apps in the past, some still used them, and the conclusions overall were that while those who were seeking brief encounters found it easier to do so on apps, they weren’t having any more sexual encounters than others of the same mindset who were not using the apps. In effect, using the apps didn’t cause any overall shift in the attitudes or behaviours that users had towards sex and relationships. So while Tinder et al may have a bad name as a digital swap shop, or a sexual Done Deal without the haggling, people aren’t changing who they are because of it. All of this will be cold comfort to that most tragic of male stereotypes – the lonely weirdo.

In ye olden times the lonely weirdo was seen as a social pariah, awkward around the opposite sex, making wild claims of a supermodel girlfriend who no-one had ever seen as she lived in Leitrim, an obvious choice for location shoots in the next Pirelli calendar. Now however, lonely weirdos have had a smart rebranding into ‘incels’, or ‘involuntary celibates’ – men who had celibacy thrust upon them by fickle women who can’t see their inner beauty under the outer layer of seething misogynistic rage.

While the internet may have made it easier for the more social animals among us to meet a mate, it would appear that the internet has also allowed misogynistic loners to gather for the sole purpose of intellectualising their isolation and to convince themselves that their lack of sexual activity is entirely someone else’s fault, rather than the fact that they spend all day on the ‘intellectual dark web’ talking to other men about not having sex.

It may seem easy to joke about this bizarre subculture, but there have already been four mass killings in the US and Canada that were committed by self-styled incels. Even the recent school shooting in Santa Fe has shown that a hatred for women is a common thread in many mass shootings.

Within two days of the rampage in New Mexico in which ten people died, the stories were surfacing that the alleged killer, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, was spurred to kill after being rejected for months by a girl he liked. According to the girl’s mother, her daughter was the first to be shot dead.

After this, the usual potential influences lined up – he liked war-based video games, he wore black boots and a Columbine-style black trench coat, he was a loner; all supposed evidence of motive. Meanwhile, the boy’s father said his son was bullied at school, and that this was what drove him to kill. Dimitrios Pagourtzis’s own journals, in which he detailed his plans, even referenced Cthulhu, the demon god of HP Lovecraft’s horror novels. However, it is the rejection by a girl that seems to have taken hold in the media as a tangible motive, as if it has any greater credence than if he said a fictional god told him to do it.

Loneliness is a terrible thing, and while the internet has helped bring many people closer together, lonely white males gathering on forums to support each other’s deranged philosophies is becoming an even more corrosive force. Look at the success of Professor Jordan Peterson, the Canadian intellectual who claims that men rule the world because they are meant to, that gender equality is a menace, and that we should all transport back to the glory days of the patriarchy, a time period that seems to be rooted in the 1950s for Peterson, but could technically be any time from Year Dot to right now.

Peterson isn’t just another weirdo on the internet – he is a clinical psychologist and public speaker who fills arenas with (mostly white male) acolytes who lap up his thoughts on the dangers of the radical left and ‘political correctness gone mad’. An expert on myth, Peterson seems to have locked himself into an extremely lucrative oedipal trajectory, where he is the hero, offering insight to his followers about why they are right about equality being a counter-evolutionary force, or that they are the front line in an escalating gender war, one in which, tragically, real shots are being fired. The question for society now is one as old as time – how to teach disaffected young men that they are wrong, and that being rejected, be it on Tinder or in the classroom, is not a reason to hate.

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