As news of politically-motivated censorship on large social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube spread like wildfire (this censorship of course being real), many started looking for alternatives, fearing that simply speaking their minds, even in polite ways, would attract negative consequences.

Anyone who is opposed to censorship out of principle would, of course, gladly navigate to less restrictive online spaces, seeking a genuine exchange of information and opinions, sometimes in the most open, innocuous and politically neutral manner. However, recent experiments of this type beg the question whether that is truly possible on a large scale. After concluding that ideological groups don’t work, it seems discussion groups/ platforms don’t work any better.

The dynamics of attracting well-meaning people to these platforms is intermingled with the growing audience of the so-called impartial alternative media, which only claimed to be against political correctness and cultural Marxism, to then espouse increasingly right-wing views and later almost merge with the far right, championing its causes and political figures in the most nauseating way.

Commentators and comedians turned right-wing activists (without taking on the name) often brag about their audiences, their “culture war” against the mainstream media, as if talking about wild animals divvying up the spoils of a carcass in the forest. The cells of said carcass are our minds, the minds of the moderates they are trying – and succeeding – to radicalise.

Their main appeal, when claiming to only oppose the extreme left was in the term “extreme”, as many who believe in freedom of speech are in fact liberals; opposing censorship or manipulation is not part of a political persuasion.

My focus is on the justifiable frustration of those who truly are independent thinkers and are trying to find a bile-free, label-free, extremism-free, hysteria-free, indoctrination-free, groupthink-free, recruitment-free space for open conversation. In times of such possibilities in that sense, it just doesn’t seem to exist.

Whenever large numbers of people gather, groupthink appears and the need of one group to dominate another. It’s always a matter of we, our fight, our culture war, our political war. And all these notions seem to include, by default, a package of values and beliefs one must adopt in order to peacefully take part in the conversation. Overtime, radicals take over a platform and whoever disagrees with them is a “troll” who “belongs somewhere else”. That in itself is disturbing and I wonder whether this is how people really think (how intellectually lazy and dishonest they are) or merely how they behave online.

One “free speech platform” is Gab.ai, which, as the article details, has attracted those banned from Facebook and Twitter. Whilst I’m sure many were banned unjustly and welcomed the opportunity, the site quickly filled with alt-right propaganda and Trump worship (without inflating the word).

The same, to a slightly lesser degree, seems to be happening on Minds.com, also promoted as a free speech platform by popular content creators on YouTube. I registered in good conscience, never realising I’d end up sifting through endless bullshit about race realism, white genocide and the idea that far right candidates would save the world.

It’s like an infection; a virus. The right seems to have harvested the brains of many who have distrusted the political system for years, only to now embrace a Bush-style imperialism by praising Trump. As Trump’s administration embarks on a new massacre spree in the Middle East, planning to help itself to oil in Iraq, just like the Bush administration before it, former “conspiracy theorists” approve of, or ignore this reality, bragging about “taking on the left” and “winning the media war”.

Centrists seem to be the new communal enemy.

Some even peddle the notion that if you reject radicalisation by the left and the right, you’re just a pompous elitist claiming moral superiority or a fence-walker who is afraid of voicing controversial opinions. Which is, of course, the biggest amount of nonsense. Reserving the right to think for yourself and not join the ranks of any side is the only antidote to brainwashing.