The lamentable fate of Mike Stuchbery 🎃🍷 @MikeStuchbery_ (Freelance) Journalist, Historian, Teacher & Tour Guide ★ 🇦🇺 in 🇩🇪 ★ Contributing Editor at @BylineTimes ★ History at @TheLocalEurope ★ Resolutely ↙️↙️↙️ Aug. 13, 2019 5 min read

Seen that thread about young white men,  Youtube and radicalisation by @iproposethis? About what parents should do? Well, if I may, allow me to add to the discussion, prompted by my time teaching young men in Australia and Europe. /1

I think @iproposethis is entirely correct when she talks about 'edgy' humour - and the negative reaction from the wider world -  being used as a wedge by reactionary & Far Right content creators. /2

However, I also think that boys and young men absolutely *need* a wedge - a machine to rage against. They need boundaries to push against as they reject their childhood identity. They'll take them wherever they find them. /3

The narrative of a brash new generation that 'tells it like it is', who will make jokes about anything as long as it's funny, and rejects a monolithic 'fake news' industry - as these content creators promote - is custom-designed to appeal. /4

(That said, there's nothing new or novel about any of it, it's recycled ideas from the boomer generation given an MS Paint imageboard makeover, but I digress.) /4a

When young men have the 'edgy' humour and reactionary politics of these content creators on tap in their pocket, it's quickly going to become irresistible to them, addictive. A quick endorphin rush of subversiveness. /5

The YouTube algorithm also makes it a recursive, vicious cycle. The more young men take in from these guys, the more they're exposed to the same, often toxic ideas from other creators. /6

I've taken phones off students who have been watching YouTube in the classroom when they've not supposed to have them out, and it's *always* the young men who've had the most trouble being parted from them - they flip right out. /7

I also think that *more* of us blokes need to acknowledge - as @iproposethis alludes to - just how much of this reactionary content is driven by a hatred of women. It's frightening how much of it boils down to a picture of woman as the betrayer, the weaker, the manipulator. /8

This is no accident. It's not just a means to drive a wedge between young men and their wider circle, it's utterly integral to the Far Right project. Dehumanisation and race hatred begins with seeing women as goods, a commodity that must be defended from the 'other'. /9

In fact, I think that it's this misogyny being made acceptable that is the first step down the path towards radicalisation. If you can convince a young man his girlfriend, sister, mother is lesser somehow, than everything else comes astonishingly easy. /10

So what do we do? We're not going to get anywhere by taking phones or laptops off young men, or leading a crusade to ban the content - it'll just make the reactionary video content more appealing and 'worth' accessing. No, sudden blanket bans or hand-wringing *won't* work. /11

What I've had success with, instead, is making it easier to access content with a variety of messages, views & opinions - newspaper subscriptions, access to news sites, podcasts, etc. Install the Google News app - it's free, and will serve up a huge amount of stuff each day. /12

Next, tell the young men in your life that you're willing to talk about the issues they're coming across in these videos, that you're interested in what's being said, but you *won't* accept a rant - ask them to bring some evidence to the table for any discussion. /13

Establish some ground rules - respectful discussion, no slurs, no simple regurgitation of these guys, everyone leaves the discussion calm and on good terms. /14

Give them the sense that you're interested in their opinions, but you won't accept lazy generalizations and I've found that 80% of the time, young men will rise to the challenge - they'll have a task & role that's theirs. Some might even decide they like the back and forth. /15

They will still need to push boundaries, but you can steer them somewhat by giving them narratives about real acts of resistance, with real stakes. Give them a book or article about the Scholl siblings, or Steve Biko, or Pussy Riot. Tell them they might find it interesting. /16

(I'm also gonna suggest you give them a copy of 'Meditations' by Marcus Aurelius and get them thinking about Stoicism as a lens to view the world, but that's a subject for another thread.) /16a

As for the misogyny? I'm not a parent - only have been a teacher - but that's one area where I've always had zero tolerance. If you hear the hate, or the slurs of these Far Right content creators being repeated by the young men around you, act fast and decisively. /17

(I hope it doesn't need to be said, but I have no tolerance for racism, ableism or any kind of hatred. I'm focusing on the misogyny as it's so often the gateway.) /17a

Tell them if you hear that sort of talk around you again, or hear that they've been treating women poorly, they will lose access to devices and privileges for a set time. *Crucially*, you will also be extremely disappointed. That last part often stings more than you think. /18

(90% of the time they'll have some way of getting online without you, but yeah - it's more the principle of the thing.

Make more of a show of the disappointment as you change the router password.) /18a

Now, this won't work on someone approaching eighteen quite like it would a thirteen year old, but the key is brutal consistency. There needs to be a large, angry glowing red line drawn when it comes to misogynistic messages being aired in the home. /19

(Need I stress, don't bring a lot of shame, or scorn into it, just tell them you're disappointed, follow through with the consequences you outlined, don't make it overly emotional.) 19a

Clearly, these aren't all these answers, but I have found that ignoring young men engaging with these reactionary or Far Right content creators simply doesn't work. Neither does banning them or forcing on them a 'liberal' analogue. /20

Spend more time talking to your kids, listen to them, but don't accept the regurgitated messages from these YouTube jokers. Ask them to think. Make it clear you won't accept misogyny under any circumstances. Be present and stay interested. /21

Interested in your thoughts. Happy to expand on these. Thanks to @iproposethis for the original thread. /FIN

TL:DR - Don't freak out, talk to young men about they're watching, challenge them as to what *they* think, set clear consequences for misogyny (as well as racism, and any kind of hatred).

PS. It's okay for your kids to grow up as conservatives. You'll live. The battle right now is to keep them from honest-to-God fash and white supremacists.


You can follow @MikeStuchbery_.



Bookmark

____
Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Threader is an independent project created by only two developers. The site gets 500,000+ visits a month and our iOS Twitter client was featured as an App of the Day by Apple. Running this space is expensive and time consuming. If you find Threader useful, please consider supporting us to make it a sustainable project.