10-03-2016   News
Photo credit: Leandro Martinez, Flickr

Ever since the dawn of modern-day social media, when user generated content and data were first monetized en masse, many elites with considerable amounts of wealth and power have thought of their customers as resources to be exploited. This sort of attitude used to be confined to authoritarian heads of state and corrupt politicians, where the scale of a nation and the broader context dehumanized citizens as bits of GDP and political capital. Now, this drunkenness of power doesn't just infect people of power and prestige, it even corrupts the humbler internet moderator, otherwise known as "hotpocketeers".

Some people, unfortunately, crave power and dominion over others to such an extent that they're willing to censor and engage in tyranny, even if there's absolutely no monetary gain involved. When astroturf marketing and political campaigning get involved, such impulses quickly escalate to new heights. Even in online communities devoted to hobbies and interests previously considered completely innocuous, there's money to be made for shilling. As the conventional mainstream media decays and wastes away, the old guard is increasingly desperate to grab as much as they can of what's "up and coming" to maintain their own relevance and power. Hollywood has actors get multimillion dollar voice roles in Call of Duty, reporters flock to Twitter, etc. As for the infamous imageboards, shitposts and memes have taken on new significance. The newly found infamy of Pepe the Frog, for example, could be considered a grand masterpiece of trolling.

To understand the nature of how things escalated to the new status quo of memery, one must understand a bit of imageboard history most mainstream reporters haven't really touched on. There was a time when /pol/ (previously known as /new/ or /n/) was far less focused on outside influences. The JIDF were /pol/'s primary antagonists, people were more focused on blacks and jews than cultural marxists (SJWs), and memes were for domestic consumption rather as political propaganda weapons. But once "raiders" from progressive leftist internet communities such as ShitRedditSays or Tumblr attempted to "take down" /pol/, much more attention was devoted to raids against politically correct targets. After the July 4th raid of Tumblr by a coalition of /pol/ and /b/ shitposters, Gawker staff eventually managed to secure a temporary victory by contacting moot and convincing him to ban people for raiding during the Gamergate affair.

While this act temporarily deprived the trilateral board coalition between /pol/, /v/, and /b/ of manpower and confused people initially, it may have strengthened /pol/ considerably in the long run. By driving away the bulk of 4chan's shitposters, trolls, and raiders, moot effectively concentrated many of the most active posters amongst the ranks of /pol/, /v/, and /b/ into 8chan and radicalized many of the more moderate posters into having ideals closer to /pol/ than before, due to the new existential threat imageboards now faced from SJWs. In addition, entirely thanks to the meddling of Gawker staff in 4chan internal affairs, legions upon legions of 4chan's most aggressive raiders and trolls have not only moved to 8chan, but have also migrated to Twitter for the incredibly rich shitposting opportunities after Gamergate demonstrated the sheer volume of famous celebrities and political operatives that could be trolled with anime pictures and right wing frog memes.

Normally, what happens after a raid is finished is that anons get bored, demobilize, and settle down in a sort of "peacetime" state of affairs. For example, when the humiliation of Tumblr culminated in Dash-con and the ballpit meme, people simply got bored of raiding Tumblr, like how a rapist might not sexually assault someone who puked on herself. However, when the media continued to give the more progressive side of the Gamergate "conflict" more favorable news coverage, it not only helped dissuade imageboard users from attempting to pursue the PR moral high ground in future raids against political targets, but it also supplied a constant supply of amusement. While conventional social media teams rely on paying money to operatives, the lifeblood of a imageboard "hate machine" is entertainment.

When Donald Trump rose in prominence, he quickly attracted the attention of /pol/ on both 4 and 8chan. Although the 8/pol/ politburo hotpocketeers were initially suspicious of Trump and attempted to limit the volume of Trump threads, once they understood the nature of Trump as a perpetual politically incorrect entertainment engine, they quickly fell into line and tried to help mobilize and focus 8/pol/ with stickied threads or banning of suspected outside influences, and the 8/pol/ userbase completely abandoned Gamergate. While the practical utility of the 8/pol/ moderation's actions is debatable, such actions do reflect the nature of 8/pol/ as a more aggressive and imperialistic "internet power" than before on 4chan. Thus, the userbase of /pol/ effectively went to war once more.

The general increased volume of trolling, memery, and shitposting on platforms such as Twitter has by no means gone unnoticed. As a result of this meme campaign, journalists and celebrities have been flooded in rare far-right Pepes, to the point where Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has attacked Pepe the Frog for being a symbol of the “alt-right”, along with the media hit pieces on the now infamous meme have formally elevated the once humble imageboard to the status of either political enemy or asset. In addition to CTR trolling, outside conservative forces have attempted to claim the mantle of the “altistic-right”, in order to be considered the heads/leaders of the “movement”, grasping at any opportunity to gain media coverage and feuding with each other over internet celebrity drama. In a day and age when most elite people consider the internet to be a means of extracting resources from cattle, conquering the imageboard is a unique challenge that has not yet been solved. Even less infamous boards, like /v/, may have been targeted specifically by video game companies for their trickle down influence on Reddit. However, if Donald Trump manages to beat Hillary Clinton and win the White House, the sheer terror a man advised by a son who is most likely a /pol/ anon could inflict on entrenched politicians, media orgs, and businesses would be a sight to behold indeed.

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