There's a long road ahead, but the only way the fever breaks is if they see their god fail.

He did fail on November 3rd, but Trump insulated them from the epistemic consequences of that failure for two months. On the 20th, it'll crash down on them, delayed like a sonic boom.
Trump's currency with the MAGA crowd was, in part, embodying impunity. An impunity they all aspire to--freedom from restraint, consequences, law, ethics, or norms. The ability to act like the main character of your own video game; total solipsism.
And Trump has never seriously been told "no" in his life by anyone he cared about until November 3rd. He got away with everything, had everything handed to him, made everyone cower in fear of his childish caprice. His fans want the same power for themselves.
When, at last, he *fails* and suffers consequences for that failure, it shatters the illusion. Not a god-emperor, just a pathetic man who's been running a con this whole time. And many still believe somehow, magically, on January 20th, he'll still be President.
Because Trump doesn't fail. He can only *be* failed. Except that failure will become apparent; he lost, he'll no longer be President. His business and brand are imploding all around him. He's rapidly becoming a pariah for cheerleading sedition. What then for his fans?
Only when they see their god fail can they even begin to have a hope of reckoning with the painful truth. And then *their* long road begins. But many of them will be hoovered up into other precincts of right wing/white supremacist politics and other conspiracy theories.
But so far as the Trumpian cult goes, it fails when the illusion of impunity is shattered. When he is no longer the avatar of "do whatever you want because the rules don't apply to you" the shine will come off.
The next phase of the threat is, of course, a "lost cause" myth and our version of the Dolchstoßlegende. White nationalists and neo-Nazis will find willing recruits. But there will be, in the immediate term, wailing grief and rage as millions realise at once there is no "plan."

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More from @Quinnae_Moon

13 Jan
So, Trump's latest video is about what you'd expect. A too-little-too-late condemnation of violence, complaining about "free speech" and "cancellation" and still not once uttering Joe Biden or Kamala Harris' names, nor any renunciation of his fraud claims.
Calling on his supporters to be peaceful is absolutely necessary; he deserves no praise because he *made* it necessary, in part by inflaming them with conspiracy theories about the election. The #1 thing Republicans *must* do for unity is renounce the fraud myth.
We're so far gone that even if Trump himself did so, many of his own followers would not believe him (they'd say they deep state finally got him or whatever). But it *is* vitally necessary that this repudiation occur, that he admit he lied about a free and fair election.
Read 4 tweets
12 Jan
Hi, scholar of online abuse here.

No. I cannot overstate how dangerous and inadequate this is. For years, I've watched people proudly post harassment and abuse under their legal names, with photographs attached. Facebook is a cesspit despite its anti-anonymity policies.
Deindividuation is but one of *many* contributing factors to online abuse and extremist organisation. The fact that these people don't think they're doing anything wrong is a much bigger problem, as is the fact that it's easy to lose sight of your targets' humanity online.
More than deindividuation, *dissociation* is the greater threat: separation from the consequences of your words and deeds online, the cutting off of any empathy for your targets, et cetera. Killing anonymity addresses exactly *none* of this.
Read 6 tweets
11 Jan
This makes an important point that a lot of internet researchers (like yours truly!) have tried to make about online discourse: far from trapping us in homogenous bubbles, social media actually exposes us to *lots* of competing, challenging ideas.
This is important to understand because we're apt to blame a lack of information, or a lack of exposure to facts, for the existence of this or that extremist group. Fear of "filter bubbles" runs rampant.
But the far-right, neo-Nazis, QAnon, etc. are not the result of a *lack* of access to facts; they result from the *recontextualising* of facts into a different system of meaning.
Read 9 tweets
9 Jan
So, just some additional info sci research notes here. For years I've been asked by people who work at tech companies how to improve platform moderation. When I use the word "context" many people threw their hands up and said "but who decides!?"

Now Twitter just... did it.
And that's good! But it also shows you how, frankly, easy this all was. "Who decides?" is not a worthless question but it's often deployed in a worthlessly self-paralysing way, as an excuse to avoid hard decisions or challenging conversations.
Context matters because not every abusive or threatening piece of material online contains easily-searched slurs or swear words or immediate threats. Interpretation matters; symbolism matters; in-group signification matters; slang and codewords matter.
Read 7 tweets
8 Jan
I've studied online harassment for years and Trump's Twitter account was the Sauron's Eye of online abuse, an unending fountain of incitement that could have literally pushed us to the brink of war.
I wrote in an academic paper, way back in 2012, that the notion of online speech being unreal, that it's "just words" or "just the internet" was causing a lot of harm and that things would get worse. Trump became the Ur textual example of how bad it could be.
Read 7 tweets
7 Jan
This is why I've been all but screaming at people (mostly on the left, frankly) for years that these people are not the "forgotten men" of the rural working class or whatever. They're middle/upper class, trying to gain even more power.
The common denominator is not being part of a forgotten working class, it is largely a politics of whiteness that adopts a specific lifestyle as an in-group solidarity marker. It may, at times, pantomime a fun-house mirror view of working class life, but it's not proletarian.
It's as authentic as Kelly Loeffler's faux-trucker aesthetic or Don Jr.'s faux-rancher pantomime for Twitter, and deployed for the same reason: pretending to salt-of-the-earth authenticity while being privileged as all fuck.
Read 4 tweets

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