Often, when discussing a social issue with someone, you might find that they are absolutely clueless about the ground realities of the world. For example, some days ago, I got a troll in my Instagram messages who wanted me to demand answers from feminists because apparently, they are responsible for the violent deaths of millions of men all over the world.
Obviously, there is no data to support this preposterous lie. And there is in fact ample evidence to support the opposite of this assertions - that millions of women die all over the world after being denied their human rights and individual liberties. And also that millions of men have actually lost their lives due to the kinds of behaviours patriarchy imposes on them from birth onwards. But far be it from angry incels to acknowledge this.
However, let me try to break down this alternate reality that my correspondent talked about - a world where feminists are roaming the streets causing hapless men to just drop dead by the sheer power of their feminismism. It’s a fantasy - a narrative constructed on the lines of a religion and with believers all over the incel world. The reason it exists is because it must. It must exist as a counter to the reality of this world, where nothing like that happens.
Any person on the side of a bad practice (patriarchy in this case) has primarily one problem. And that problem, quite simply, is reality. Reality is too big and too powerful and is not denied easily. So to counter it, something of equal weight must be brought into existence - another reality. An all new false reality, a different world entirely where the rules of this world do not apply at all. A universe where the most common social practices and the defining characteristics of our cosmos are reversed in favour of the marginalised so that members of the dominant categories may pretend to be victims of systemic injustice.
And incels are not the only ones who do this. In this denial-powered multiverse, there are Indias where dominant caste Hindus suffer because of the tyrannical Reservation system. There are Americas where White supremacists are being persecuted by people of colour. There are even honest-to-god flat earthers who are being systemically oppressed by globe manufacturers and the illuminati.
If you were to enter into a conversation with any of the loonies who believe they live in these worlds, you might show them evidence to demonstrate that the world they actually live in is nothing like their fantasies. But you will eventually hit a wall after all of that when they respond with “but what if it is true?”. You have probably even heard this exact line in one of your WhatsApp groups when you told someone that the information in the poorly photoshopped meme they shared was probably not real.
I have written
before about the human vulnerability before stories and narratives. This quality is responsible for the world’s largest religions, the world’s most toxic conflicts, as well as one of the world’s most lucrative industries in the form of storytelling, filmmaking, Hollywood, publishing etc. We just can’t resist a story. Be it a false story about our origins as a species (creationism) or a made-up story about our limits as a species (the moon landing hoax). In every age, this vulnerability has paved the way for cultural changes big and small.
But while, in earlier times, the number of alternate realities that emerged from the human imagination was limited by slower communication and lower access, these days, such worlds literally erupt from every mind, all the time. Once, you had to find UFO nuts’ books in obscure stores in order to find out the details of how they were abducted and anally probed. These days, the damn fool will do an Instagram live and tell you it is literally happening to him right now. The multiverse of false worlds has therefore grown exponentially. And because finding facts and presenting them takes longer than lying, this multiverse not only persists, it thrives.
The silver lining, if it can be called that, is that in this world of many stories, each one of us is a storyteller. And though the fabric of reality may have been shredded by irresponsible news coverage, manufactured propaganda, and motivated lying, responsible storytelling can always make a dent in the multiverse of denial.
The cure to “Doctor Incel, Denier Supreme” is not facts. It is Doctor Feminist, Storyteller Supreme. Or Captain Narrative. Or Iron Teller. It’s that simple.