I Cyber-Lurked the Incel Forums and I am Disturbed

I’m no stranger to wandering down an internet rabbit hole; I’m actually a fairly seasoned veteran of cyber-lurking. But, the nights I spent researching for this article shook me to my core. For this article, I decided to research the online communities of “Incels” (the short-hand term for involuntary celibates) - who according to incels.co are “[people] who want to be in a loving relationship but [are] unable to find a partner despite [their] best effort.” However, it’s worth noting right off the bat that all females are banned from these forums because apparently the most unattractive woman is still able to have sex, and most men commenting are focused specifically on sex, not a relationship. So, it’s possible that a more accurate definition for an Incel is “a man who, despite persistent efforts, can’t get laid.” Incels view their physical appearance to be the primary cause of their celibacy, but also acknowledge that many of them have poor socials skills. The primary ideology is that women seek out partners based exclusively on status, which is broken down into the height, weight, intelligence, income, race and general attractiveness of their mate. Personality is supposedly not a legitimate factor that people consider in their partner.

Incel ideology has been broken down into different “pills” that the members have swallowed:

The Bluepill: refers to people who believe that there are more important things than physical appearance, and that if you’re confident and kind, you can still have a relationship with a woman.

The Redpill: there are genuine factors that are related to romantic success, and through self-improvement a man can become more desirable. These factors include pretty healthy behaviours, like weight-lifting, or more sinister concepts like maximizing one’s ability to psychologically manipulate the girls you’re attempting to pick-up

The Blackpill: claims to be a science-based perspective on the objective truths of male-female relationships. It essentially says that if you’re unattractive, there is no amount of self-improvement that will lead to a woman wanting to be with you, and you are destined to a life of forced isolation.

The forums today are a warped and disturbing version of what was initially intended: social support for people who struggle with dating. It is beyond ironic that the first Incel forum was created by a bisexual Torontonian woman named Alana when she launched her website “Alana’s Involuntary Celibacy Project” in the late 1990s, given that she would not be allowed to participate in the forums today. The early years of Incel forums were inclusive and supportive, it was meant to be a place where people who felt alone could connect with people who had similar experiences.

It is genuinely understandable why Incels seek support. Isolation is cruel, and many Incels have been consistently rejected in their persistent attempts to form human connections. According to a survey conducted of 500 active members of incel.co in September of 2019, 85.5% of users are unhappy, 87.3% say they have been discriminated against based on their appearance and 67.5% of users have seriously considered suicide. So, the motivation behind the forums is noble, but over the years the content has become an angry, hateful parody of the initial intentions of these forums.

In 2019, there is a full set of terminology that ranges from mildly offensive, to glorifying misogynistic murderers. Women are generally referred to as “femoids” or “foids,” the shortened form of female humanoid. Attractive women are called “Stacys” and unattractive women are called “Whales” (charming, I know). Attractive, sexually successful men are called “Chads,” normal men are called “normies.” Apparently, all Stacys are desperate to get with Chads, and will cheat on any normie if a Chad becomes an option. Stacys can become “Roasties” after having sex with multiple men (because clearly penetration leads to labias becoming stretched out and looking like roast beef). When someone references “ER” they’re referring to Elliot Rogers, the man who murdered multiple people in California in 2014 and left behind a manifesto that claimed it was women rejecting him that made him homicidal.

When you think about Alana’s vision in 1997, to what the Incel community has become in 2019, it’s impossible to not wonder what went wrong. I think the most plausible answer is that the Incel forums became too exclusive in who could claim Incel status. By rejecting all female Incels and mocking all Incels who still had hope of a relationship, they created an incredibly toxic communication bubble. Their forums are filled with the most bitter, the most hateful and the most delusional men who are only exposed to people who share their same ideology. Honestly, there was a certain morbid fascination to lurking these forums but it also left me craving a REALLY long shower.