As a teenager who frequently uses TikTok and YouTube, I noticed a trend among people of my demographic. I’ve witnessed many young teen males such as myself fall victim to a self-hating, aggressive, and toxic mindset. I dug deeper into this topic and came to learn that it was much deeper and more widespread than I thought. I wish to bring attention to this toxicity so people in my situation can be informed and have the proper knowledge to handle this subject.
In recent years, there has been a surge of “incels” on the internet, particularly in spaces such as Reddit and X (formerly Twitter). “Incel” typically describes a heterosexual man who is unable to find a sexual partner and is involuntarily celibate. These “incels” seem to pride themselves on despising women due to constant rejection and/or lack of attention from them. This hatred spreads rapidly online and eventually creates echo chambers of sad, lonely, easily-influenced young men who want a place to express their thoughts, which causes an extremely unhealthy environment and lets the hatred of women fester and grow into something potentially violent and harmful to everyone involved.
Based on my observations, it seems like upon recognizing that no woman will sleep with them, the “incel” typically takes to the internet to see if others share the same ideals as him. Once they locate a virtual space of like-minded individuals, they begin sharing opinions and eventually develop a shared belief.
This is where the “Black Pill Ideology” comes into play. “Black Pill,” which is a play on ideas from the movie “The Matrix” featuring red and blue pills, describes a way of thinking in which your attractiveness completely dictates your value as a man, and if you do not meet the standards it is simply hopeless and you should give up. From what I have observed studying these internet spaces, many incels cling to this ideology so they can say to themselves that it’s not their fault they don’t receive attention from women: It’s simply a result of their unfortunate appearance and there’s nothing they can do about it.
According to research published in 2021, “The Black Pill: New Technology and the Male Supremacy of Involuntarily Celibate Men,” the entire idea of “Black Pill” is hopelessness; it’s almost like they don’t want to succeed. Delving further into the “Black Pill,” the method in which incels measure attractiveness is designed completely to put people down and wallow in self-pity. For example, the scale they use is 1-10, 1 being what I can only describe as grotesque and 10 being peak human. If the incel does not fit the scale of “most attractive” that they created, they see themselves as inferior. Toxic mindsets like this can cause a young man to spiral to a point of no return. I can’t imagine how terrible I would feel if one of my friends or brothers descended into this state of mind. This is something no one should ever experience.
At their lowest, incels’ hatred of women and themselves brews to the point where they begin to lash out. Some can commit violent crimes against women, typically in the realm of sexual assault. Sadly, there are real-life cases of this incel mindset ending people’s lives. Most notably, former YouTube vlogger, Elliot Rodger, murdered six people before taking his own life due to this toxic mindset.
This state of mind is not a joke; it can hurt many, many people. Something needs to be done about the rise of incels. The root cause of this behavior is men feeling the need and entitlement to sexual relations with women. This stems from years of toxic masculinity.
To cleanse this awful mindset from our youth, we need to open a dialogue. Young men are being overexposed to this terrible community, and when they have been in an echo chamber from a young age, it becomes nearly impossible to get someone out. I believe this mindset can change, but if it continues going at the rate it has been, I am afraid this incel ideology will only continue to spread.
If you think you or someone you love could be sucked into this cycle of toxicity, I would recommend to be aware of it. Simply knowing about this issue reduces the likelihood that you will be affected by it. Education on mental health and healthy relationships is crucial for people at a young age.
Editor’s note: Resources for healthy relationships education and supports
loveisrespect.org: A national nonprofit, including information and support. Teens can text: LOVEIS to 22522