The online presence of incels, or involuntary celibates, has been an increasing security concern for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers in recent years, given that self-identified incels – including Alek Minassian and Elliot Rodger – used the Internet to disseminate incel ideology and manifestos prior to committing acts of violence. However, little is empirically known about the incel movement in general or their online communities in particular. The present study draws from a set of comments from r/Incels, a now defunct but once popular subreddit dedicated to the incel community, and compares the most highly-upvoted comments (n = 500) to a random set of other comments (n = 500) in the subreddit. This qualitative analysis focuses on identifying subcultural discourse that is widely supported and engaged with by members of the online community and the extent to which incels utilise this online space to reaffirm deviant behaviour. Several conclusions can be drawn from this study.
First, this study demonstrated that incel perspectives and worldviews were shared in the form of a blackpill doctrine, which was part of a broader ideology of grievance against men and women. Such comments, particularly those against women, were more prevalent in the random set, as were comments that were personal and emotional in nature. These dynamics are similar to that of other online subcultures, wherein users are encouraged to engage with one another on a personal level. Furthermore, this study mirrors prior work on incel communities which find participants are more likely to use personal pronouns in their comments.