This podcast really hit close to home. I was also a toxic teen and probably would have become alt-right if that had existed in the internet of the late 90’s-early 2000’s. Below is my long winded personal story.
For me I think it’s what Danielle said, that society does a really poor job of socializing young men. I’ve always had problems with romantic interactions with women from an early age. As an Italian/Brazilian there was always some pressure that if you weren’t a womanizer you were a failure as a man. This didn’t go well with my fear of rejection, low self esteem, and bad anxiety and depression. Women became a sort of “other”, not a person in the same way I was. I did not know how to show the girls I liked that I was in to them romantically, and only had my first girlfriend at 17. I basically only had two dates between that relationship ending and turning 24.
I got in to some pretty misogynist communities online around the year 2000, when I was 13, that also shared my woes of “girls not liking good guys”. They would definitely be alt-right and anti-SJW today. They were definitely already anti-PC at the time. Between those communities and my fairly right-wing parents I was that embarrassing sort of contrarian Rob discusses on the show throughout high school and parts of college. To further cement that stereotype I was also in to military history at the time, especially the German army in WWII
Ironically what helped get me out of that toxic place I was in was finding the Pickup Artist/Seduction community. I never used their “canned” routines, because even at that low point I thought they were morally wrong. However their self help stuff was actually very useful. A lot of it was just basic self care, and improving your self-esteem. It’s embarrassing to admit, but a life-changing revelation from the pickup artist community at the time was that women actually like sex, and it’s easier to “get it” if you treat them like a “normal human being” (ie. like you would treat another cis-male). Sorry, that’s a really gross way to express it and even recalling that I once thought that way makes me cringe in guilt and embarrassment. As Contrapoints points out in her Jordan Peterson and Incel videos, a lot of the advice in these communities is self-help messaging that would actually be useful for troubled teens, if they came without the shitty alt-right messaging.
At this point I was in university and surrounded by a lot of left-leaning friends in the UK, who slowly tempered my shittier right wing opinions over time. Eventually I switched from studying Video Games to studying Archaeology. Archaeology helped me see the horrors of colonialism and capitalism and how terrible and unjust societies in the past could be, especially to women or “outsiders”. That’s when I really started veering left and becoming feminist as well. Honestly, if you study non-military history and/or archaeology and don’t come out a bit of a lefty, either you had an intentionally misleading curriculum or are a sociopath. Military history is a right-wing trash fire however.
This is also when I stopped frequenting online pickup artist spaces and had my first healthy relationship with a woman (my now wife!), when I was 24 years old.
Moving here to the US further changed my world view, as I was deprived from even the basic social amenities I had growing up in Europe (public transportation, bike infrastructure, walkable neighborhoods, affordable socialized medical care, etc.). Capitalism here is so “loud” I find it disconcerting - there are ads everywhere all the time, and everything is about money, owning property, and the individual above everyone else.
Working as an archaeologist over here further exposed me to the genocide of Native Americans and their continued awful treatment, pushing me further left. I’m even feeling morally ambiguous about being a white cis-male working with Native American history, considering the terrible colonial foundations of archaeology. I’m trying to stick to providing only technical services like artifact typologies, site recordation and mapping, as I don’t think it’s my place to do anything interpretative like writing histories or trying to “explain” how Native American societies worked.
And then I found Idle Weekend, which led me to Waypoint, which eventually introduced me to Citations Needed, Contrapoints, donoteat, and Dia Lacina and now I’m basically an Environmentalist SJW Commie! So a happy ending, I hope