Briefly, 4chan is an online community - a message board - dating back to 2003, used for social interaction such as sharing images and messages. 4chan is still very strong despite the rise of other social media. More on why later. It's divided into subsections which use the old DOS-style directory marker: the front slash, or "/". If you inhabited the bulletin board systems of the 1980s and '90s this will look familiar to you. /pol/ is a subsection of 4chan for "politically incorrect".
So why does 4chan and /pol/ remain strong for free speech? It hasn't been taken over by the regimented, scolding social justice warriors like other social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter etc.). In fact, the users of 4chan appear for the most part to be full-throated defenders of freedom who seem to want to keep this a bastion of uncontrolled political incorrectness. What a great thing!
Tim Pool, a YouTuber who provides commentary and news on current topics, muses in a recent vlog about the shift in politics in the hacker community. In his video, Tim observes that he sees the hacker community turning away from the raging regressive SJW left. Most of the gaming community has, too, and is fighting SJW content insertion tooth and nail - see GamerGate. (start at 6:56 to bypass Quinn's speech. F-bomb warning.) GamerGate, in fact, has been credited with coining the term "social justice warrior".
The struggles of these two communities doesn't reflect a "left vs. right" paradigm, but more an "authoritarian vs. libertarian" one. After listening to Tim's commentary - which is worthwhile; he is not a hard-liner for any side of the political spectrum - be sure to read the comments. Understand that many of his commenters are under the age of 21 - the mysterious Gen Z.
"But Firesign," you might say, "these 4chan and /pol/ denizens are all hackers and left-wing, aren't they? These are the Anonymous hackers?"
No. That's not entirely correct. While it can be argued that Anonymous originated from 4chan inhabitants, it is not correct to equate the two. However, both Anonymous and the larger 4chan user group exhibit strong anti-SJW actions. In fact, a trend has started in what I call the "dank web."
- "Dank web" is my term for the users of the un-indexed part of the internet populated by younger people largely outside of the fluffy "GUI" social media platforms, and also outside of the criminal elements of the truly "dark web". This is where 4chan and private boards live.
- What is "dank": see here on reddit.
Social justice is seen as oppression, rigidity, boring, unfunny; and these mostly young men, engaging in normal hijinks and one-upsmanship, are chafing against the scolding, social restrictions and policing of speech which SJWs enforce. They rebel and find themselves moving to the right because that is where they are free to express themselves, have fun and be as politically incorrect as they wish.
And they are as politically incorrect as young people with virtually no restrictions under the veil of anonymity can be.
The result of this gamer/hacker backlash against SJWs is a high-tech war using sleuthing techniques worthy of the CIA, humor and truth bombs via meme, and cultural separation from the regressive left. (example: The Kekistani movement)
Many have openly supported Trump, although they don't support most other establishment politicians (wake up there, GOP! Gen Z is not your fan.)
This situation should deeply worry the regressive left, because it provides a marvelous, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for conservatives, classical liberals and libertarians to reach out and join with Gen Z and anti-SJW gamers. Gen Z is not about following a leader and they are quite conservative politically - also known as "red-pilled" (from the movie The Matrix). This is a marvelous thing. These are qualities that their older siblings and parents in the millennial group lack. These are qualities which will help them resist the regressive left that captured most of our twenty- and thirtysomethings.
But don't take my word for it. Read what they are saying themselves.
Oh, and they love Milo and Paul Joseph Watson.
Suddenly the future looks much rosier.
A slight foray into my background might help provide context for my interest in this subject. I've been a computer professional most of my adult life, going pretty far back to early days of DOSand early internet ("DARPANET"). Fast forward to today and I am in the field of cybersecurity risk. Soooo... any change in the mood of Anonymous is of some interest to me. Also, any change in the political mind-set of this nation's youth is of interest to me as a political activist who care about our future generations.