Once Upon a Time in the Chat
The link from Milo’s Telegram channel lets them into the chat room, at which the Guardian Dragon greets them with instructions:
Welcome, N. Announce yourself with a HAIL QUEEN MILO. Then, read the rules.Some say nothing after their opening “Hail.” Others begin tossing out challenges at once. Everyone wants Milo’s attention—but not all for the same reasons.
The e-thots are the least subtle, but then they are women. (Pro tip: We women aren’t as sneaky as we would like to believe.) Regardless, a pretty woman is almost always able to take over the chat instantly with her selfies and questions, the men leaping either to court her or mock her. I confess myself somewhat in awe of their tactics, even as it drives me nuts how they divert the conversation. Oh, to be able to swan into a saloon and have the men at your feet!
The men are harder to read. This being Milo’s chat, many are gay, which means they give off signals to each other that I don’t always catch. Others come in carrying chips on their shoulders, indignant that Milo should call himself Catholic (or Jewish) while still claiming to be gay (or Catholic). The hardest to read are the mischief-makers. Are they lost souls looking for friendship? Or are they purposeful trolls trying to get a rise? More to the point, are they friends being edgy or enemies out to disrupt the chat for their own purposes?
We have had more than a few of the latter over the past several months. Bad hombres who come into the chat looking for a fight—or fellow travelers. Their tactics are drearily similar. 1) Say something about how the Jews are in charge of everything. 2) Claim that the only answer is nations based on race. You could call it the Racist Two-Step. Seasoned members of the chat know to avoid it, but every so often even they get caught up, thinking that they can argue the bad hombres over to Christ. It almost never works—but we try.
More encouraging are the conversations we have had about pornography (bad because it makes men into cucks and women into whores) and prayer (good because it gives us strength to stay joyful in the midst of the culture war). There have been extended conversations on theology (Catholics vs Protestants vs Orthodox vs atheists). There have been even longer conversations about the merits (or demerits) of anime.
Sometimes the chat erupts into celebrations of furries, especially sneps.* (I may ::ahem:: have had a hand in some of the sticker spam. Yay, sneps!) Other times it gets very serious, worrying about the decline of masculinity in the West and how to encourage men to take pride in themselves again as fathers and breadwinners. Several of the most challenging threads have taken on the question of IQ and its role in determining culture. Others have had to do with the beauty of women and how to encourage it.
A quick survey of the chat yields a long list of topics: furries (but only on Fridays); feminism (a.k.a. cancer); impeachment (boring); circumcision (don’t get the guys started!); fat shaming (daily); the LGBT agenda (gay); political correctness (even more boring); pedophilia (evil); cow farming (good); preparation for the boogaloo (essential). As resident Professor, I am obliged to inflict homework on the chat every so often (a.k.a. make reading recommendations—they ask!). Other members of the chat share links and memes for Milo to post. Even on slow days, the comments can number in the thousands.
To what end? I confess, it has been somewhat addictive these past six months, trying to keep up with the chat. Go to sleep, and the conversation has flowed on for hours. Should I scan through the stream to catch up or jump into the middle, clueless as one of the newcomers? There are recognizable characters. Some tricksters are whom I still don’t know whether to trust; others are so earnest they almost beg to be teased. Back in September, we had only 700 or so members. Now there are over 3,000, albeit the regular participants number only in the hundreds. Those in the know call me “Mom.”**
I take the responsibility seriously, even as I try to keep things light. The chat is a playground, not a classroom, more like a fencing strip than a seminar room. And yet, our task is a serious one: saving civilization, one groyper at a time. You don’t know what a groyper is? Neither did I, until they started showing up in knots, testing us, testing Milo for whether we were based. One in particular seems to have had motives other than finding friends; Milo called him on his betrayal yesterday, but we have no idea how many followers he let in. How does one tell the difference between thots, traitors and trolls?
Especially challenging have been Milo’s tests of character. (One day I may tell you about the grapefruit challenge—or not. It is a harrowing tale of fruit and fury, not for the faint of heart.) By far the greatest challenge, however, is that which the chat sets itself not to erupt into name-calling and jealousy; it is hard to tell sometimes when the jokes have ceased to be jokes and have tipped into actual efforts at wounding. Predictably, the women tend to get more upset at the jokes than the men, but even some of the men find it hard to take. Should we go light on each other? Or do we need the practice not taking ourselves so seriously?
Over and over again the pride and envy flare up, only to be quashed by Milo’s reminder that it is HIS chat, not ours. “Please take your boring personal obsessions elsewhere,” he will tell us. “This is a training ground for warriors!” I have written about this dynamic before, but the training never ends. You get knocked down by the bullies? Do not run crying to Milo about how somebody was mean to you in the chat. And yet, as the chat reminds me, we have also learned to pray for each other—and to protect ourselves from the darkness with prayer.
As I write, the chat is sharing memes about the deleterious effects of pornography and drugs, even as they rib each other over what is going to happen at the boogaloo. Am I sitting on the cutting edge of culture—or watching its demise? The other day another member did a short blogpost on one of the conversations he had witnessed in the chat about the merits of Romantic music. Milo’s take (quoted in the blogpost):
Romantic music is the only proper soundtrack to the trad life. It’s all about the wonders and mysteries of nature and man’s yearning for the supernatural and the ineffable. What better musical accompaniment to a young movement rediscovering the glory of God? The way Christianity so often works is reflected perfectly in Romantic preoccupations and styles: The mundane, dissolving into the sublime. Plus, of course, most of the best composers were batty nationalists. People who never graduate from baroque music tend to have no imagination—and no soul.And you wonder that I love Milo? I grew up in the American Southwest. I know what the edges of civilization look like. The desert. The mountains. The road stretching off into the distance with only a cow or antelope on the horizon. I know what it is like to grow up in a town with buildings no older than my grandparents—but with stories stretching back to the days of the monster slayers.
I spent my childhood imagining castles on the crest of the mountains around Albuquerque, wondering why every history lesson in school began somewhere Back East. The last thing I identified with were those damn Yankees (my father’s term), and yet I was proud to be an American. It made no difference that I was surround by people speaking Spanish, or that the oldest monuments in the region were built by the ancestors of the Pueblos. What mattered was the sense of adventure. The romance of the West.
I understand now how much that romance depended on a fiction. The Wild Wild West of the Romantic era was always wilder in people’s heads than on the ground. I also understand now where my own family’s story fits in the settlement of the West with the railroads in the late nineteenth century (my mother’s great-grandfather was a Presbyterian minister who moved his family to the Texas Panhandle) and the government labs in the mid-twentieth. (We lived in Albuquerque because my father was doing his medical residency there, but he wanted to be there because his brother-in-law worked at the Los Alamos labs.)
But it mattered that I was surrounded by people who had been willing to risk everything to move out into the wilderness—and to make friends with the people whom they met there. (Now the chat has moved to a discussion of the merits and demerits of psychoactive drugs, with an emphasis on how to stop smoking.) Perhaps this is why I have been so drawn to the wilds of social media, our closest analogue to the wilderness given that the physical frontier has long closed. Be out there on the edges with the groypers and the e-thots? Just imagine the men wearing their six-shooters and the women in cancan dresses, and suddenly it all makes sense.
Now the chat is busy making joke Guardian headlines and taking a quiz about the various flavors of the alt-right. You know very well that there are those out there in SJW-land who cannot tell the difference between cowboys and Nazis, never mind libertarians and TradCats, but the members of the chat know the difference between religion and race, even if our enemies do not. According to my results, I am (surprise, surprise) a Traditionalist/Monarchist, which means a bit of a Romantic who longs for the return of goodness, truth, and beauty (I paraphrase). Others have discovered they are Blackpillers (dedicated to causing the enemy pain but convinced the cause is lost) or Libertarian/Ancaps (“Live and let live”), but almost nobody (according to the quiz) actually identifies as alt-right. Those guys must hang out in another saloon since they don’t like our kind very much.
Nobody back East thought very much of the cowboys and cancan girls, not to mention the ministers like my great-great-grandfather. I can just imagine them in their Boston salons, wondering why anyone would go out to live in the middle of nowhere, so far from civilization. My colleagues in academia have much the same response to social media. Some embrace it, but most see it as unserious, not where the real conversations happen. All I can say is, the chat members may be unpolished, but they are willing to take on topics that nobody in the polite circles of academia is willing to touch—including the role of traditional values in maintaining our culture, never mind the fractures that have developed over nation, religion, and race.
Is it perilous out here in the wilds of Telegram? Perhaps. But where else would we be able to see mountains in all of their majesty or listen to Wagner and weep for the beauty of God?
For more adventures in the wilds of Milo’s chat, see Milo Chronicles. Help save civilization—buy my book!
Image credits: Kevin Walter. The boys in the saloon, L-R: Micah, Milo, Paddy, Demos, Rainbow Dash. Cancan ladies, L-R: Alaina, Rachel, Rosie.
*Snow leopards, for the non-furries out there.
**It isn’t that hard. It’s right there by my name!