Incel, Feminist, Childfree, Karen— Our Obsession and Abuse of Labels
Why putting the blame on social media isn’t the answer
Have you ever played the game of Chinese Whisper or the Telephone Game?
In a classic version of the age-old game, one person whispers a message to a second person, who in turn whispers to a third, and so on — until the last person in the chain announces the message out loud.
Very often, the message that the last person announces is totally twisted and has significantly changed in meaning versus what the first person had conveyed.
It wasn’t long ago that I only knew of the word “incel” as the abbreviated form of “involuntarily celibate” but hadn’t done much more research on it.
I did, out of curiosity, click on one of the articles (often rants) about it and got to know a bit more about the phenomenon.
Interestingly enough, the term that was introduced into the social media lexicon over two decades ago, has since totally changed in meaning, or in what it represents. Alana Foster happens to be the inventor of the term.
Initially, it was what the word seems to stand for — a term to represent lonely people who had a hard time getting into relationships, or hadn’t been in one for a long time. It provided a platform for such people to socialize and share their common concerns and sorrow, and in the process, possibly socialize and find friends. Harmless, isn’t it?
The version of “incels” we know today, however, is a far cry from harmless, lonely individuals. Today, Google’s definition from Oxford languages shows the word to mean the following:
“a member of an online community of young men who consider themselves unable to attract women sexually, typically associated with views that are hostile towards women and men who are sexually active.”
Wow, from lonely men and women, we’re now talking dangerous and socially hostile men. How did we get here?
Social media is a blessing and a curse
The internet thrives on spotting trends early and snowballing them into movements and hashtags that millions of people start talking about.