The network of online communities, vlogs and blogs where incelospherians and cybercels gather is called the incelosphere, mostly confined to forums and Youtube. Abtreffers are arguably the most sophisticated community in the incelosphere. Among the most distinctive aspects of the incelosphere is the sheer amount of protologists and neologists who coin new words. The mere existence of the incelosphere has helped a lot of truecels overcome their depression, purely out of the knowledge that they're not alone, and that there are other truecels out there like themselves. There are scores, or perhaps even hundreds of vlogging channels, websites and forums in the incelosphere.
This article discusses both the history of online spaces frequented by incels as well as forms of media that imbricate on this phenomenon.
The term 'involuntarily celibate' had been used in literature prior to the internet, and sometimes, but rarely used in a semi-academic way. It wouldn't be till the internet era that the term entered academia. Prior to the internet, the term, "involuntary celibate", was used in literature, including but not limited to, The Mythology and Fables of the Ancients, Explain'd from History, Volume 3 in 1739, Family Herald Magazine in 1876, Virginia by Ellen Glasgow in 1913, The Building by Peter Martin in 1960, in detail in Blueprint for a Higher Civilization by Henry Flynt in 1975, Law and Liberation by Robert E. Rhodes in 1986, Criminal Tendencies by William O'Rourke in 1987, Human Sexuality: the search for understanding by David Knox in 1984, and Understanding Sexuality by Adelaide Haas and Kurt Haas in 1990. While never directly using the verbatim terms, "involuntarily celibate" or "incel", famous French author Michel Houellebecq has written about the topic vicariously through his many fictional works about involuntarily celibate and layless men.
Some notable pre-internet people who were arguably incelibates include Ludwig van Beethoven who suffered serial rejection at the hands of women, Emily Dickinson who suffered from agoraphobia, Joseph Merrick aka the Elephant Man who suffered from severe face and body deformities, artist Van Gogh who was perpetually rejected and eventually pursued a relationship with a hooker, Van Gogh's famous painter manlet friend Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was severely mocked for being a manlet and eventually just chose to live in the brothel he frequented, Friedrich Nietzsche who was famously rebuffed by every woman he approached and died from an STD he contracted from a hooker, G. H. Hardy a famous mathematician who couldn't bear looking at himself in the mirror and never held steady relationships with women, bisexual actor Anthony Perkins who for most of his life had a pathological fear of women remaining a virgin (at least to women) at age 39, Ed Gein who Perkins had played in the movie Psycho was terrified of human contact and probably died a virgin, and English recording artist Nick Drake who suffered from extreme shyness of women and in all likelihood died a virgin (according to most analyses). Famous folk-pop singer and pianist Daniel Johnston is also a well-known incelibate. He was diagnosed with severe schizophrenia, and his songs detail his life in and out of mental hospitals, and delibitating unrequited love for various women. He may be the only famous modern pop musician to be an incelibate.
Professor of psychology Brian Gilmartin published a book called Shyness & Love: Causes, Consequences, and Treatment in 1987, arguing for inceldom to be treated as a medical condition and for society to take it more seriously. At that time, Gilmartin's term for inceldom was, love-shyness but before his death he used the terms, "incel" and "love-shy" interchangeably as can be seen in a recovered clip from the abandoned The Incel Project documentary.
The founder of the particular strain of seduction techniques that we know today as modern pick-up-artistry was Ross Jeffries. He published "How to Get the Women You Desire Into Bed" in 1992, which argued against nice guy behaviour. The alt.seduction.fast Usenet newsgroup was founded by Lewis De Payne, a student of Ross Jeffries in 1994. In the same year, Michel Houellebecq published his first novel, "Whatever", which frankly discussed sexual stratification and pauperization.
In 1992 the Netherland government decided to fully reimburse disabled citizens for legal visits to hookers, effectively making sex a human right in the Netherlands
Although the term "incel" did exist in the late-90s, the most common term in the incelosphere used to refer to involuntarily celibate people in the 90s was, "socially anxious men", on the alt.support.shyness Usenet Group and "AFC" meaning "average frustrated chump" on the alt.seduction.fast (ASF) Usenet newsgroup. Alana's Involuntary Celibacy Project abbreviated the word incel in 1997 which was initially coined by Antoine Banier which eventually cultivated into academic research on incels. This research was published and is colloquially known as the Donnelly Study referring to it's main sociologist Denise Donnelly. The terms "incel" and involuntary celibate" subsequently became valid sociological terms. A mailing list (forum) was created on the Project's site in 1997, the first official incel forum. In 1998, members of alt.support.shyness were invited, helping to populate the mailing list. Alana's mailing list was a feminist forum, and Alana had created the first incel forum as a lesbian with dating experience. Alana stopped maintaining the forum around 2003.
A year after Alana's first incel forum, in 1998, the first online German incel community, Parsimonyforum 3708 of the Absolute Beginners, was established. In 1999, Laurence Fishburne whilst starring as Morpheus in the film The Matrix, narrates the line "You take the blue pill, the story ends here, you wake up and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill ... and I'll show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes." This quote subsequently becomes eulogized with "blue pill" and "red pill" eventually becoming eponyms for entire philosophies in the incelosphere as well as adjacent communities.
In 2000, Beate Küpper, wrote a psychology dissertation called, "Are singles different from the others?: a comparison of singles and couples", exploring the causes of, "involuntary singles", as opposed to, "voluntary singles". In 2002, she later publishes the book called, "Are singles different? A Comparison of Singles and Couples Series: Focal Points of Personality.
In 2000, a charity for disabledcels is launched called TLC Trust along with a website. The Yahoo support group /groups/loveshy-drgilmartin was created in 2002. In 2003, love-shy.com started as an anonymous board before it switched to non-anoymous a couple years later. In 2004, the first ever female-centric community of the incelosphere was created on Yahoo with /groups/loveshy-women. The Japanese inspired image-board 4chan also started this year as an anonymous community. In 2004, Alana's former community and project moved to a new forum called Incelsite, and it was then rebranded to IncelSupport in 2006 and hopped across at least three different domain names. In 2004, Tectum Verlag, a German scientific book publisher publishes Olaf Wickenhöfer's study of, "involuntary single[s]", called, "Unfreiwillig Single: Eine Studie zur Sozialisationsgeschichte und kulturellen Alltagspraxis", citing Denise Donnelly, Brian Gilmartin, and Beate Küpper, as well as his own study. In 2006, Arne Hoffmann publishes a book called, "Untouched", or, "Unberührt", chronicling the stories of 11 incels, as well as reviewing the available literature on the subject and publishing new essays on the subject of inceldom. In 2006, the Japanese Marxist incelospherian group Kakuhido emerges, doing public protests of Christmas, Valentine's Day, and White Day all that same year. In 2007, the first website of the French incelosphere is founded, Virginite-tardive.fr, which is entirely in the French language.
In 2008, 4chan's r9k board appeared, a hikikomori board that never self-identified as incel, but male hikikomoris are generally involuntarily celibate. Since 2008, r9k defined most of what media as of 2018 refers to as "incel subculture". Also, in 2008, the first clip of the unreleased US incel documentary The Incel Project was uploaded to blip.tv. The developing documentary seemed to have stalled sometime between 2012-2014. In the same year, the vlogging community of the True Forced Loneliness 'movement' started, a space adjacent to incel boards that initially consisted of three vloggers and a website complaining about dating from a societal perspective. In 2009, love-shy.com came under the adminship of an extremely anti-feminist admin for a couple years. This is the same year that the PSL boards started, a sequential group of raucous forums that happened to contain a lot of involuntary celibates. r/ugly is a semi-incelospherian subreddit that was created in March 2009. The website loveshyproject.com was also created in 2009. The same year, the website Involuntarycelibacy.com was created.
In 2011, the subreddit r/foreveralone was founded, which would go on to become one of the largest and most gender-inclusive spaces of the incelosphere. In 2013, IncelSupport crashed, and all forum posts were lost in the process. In 2014, Robin Sprenger published academic literature on inceldom called, "Male Absolute Beginner: A Communication Science Approach to Explaining Partnerlessness", which is self-explanatory. It was published by Springer VS.
In 2014 a reiteration of IncelSupport was attempted, but was quickly abandoned due to lack of interest. Wizchan began in 2014. Also in 2014, the PSL boards now all contained 'rate me' subforums, thus further ingraining blackpilled concepts such as lookism in the incelosphere. During 2014-2015, the incel presence on Reddit began, mostly through Caamib from love-shy.com, starting with the extremely anti-feminist subreddits: r/truecels and r/incels. The emergence of anti-incel forums like inceltears and leftbook tag groups began the start of the Battle of Incelistan. In 2017 the Facebook group Incelistan began but not as a response to the similarly titled Battle of Incelistan, but more as a response to anti-incel leftbook tag groups. Almost all the members of Incelistan came from the Facebook group Ancapistan and not any subreddit or established incel forum. In November 2017 r/incels and r/truecels were banned, with some in those subreddits moving to the new sites incel.life and incels.co.
In 2017, the Netherland government got rid of it's 25 year policy that made sex a human right in the Netherlands, no longer providing reimbursements to disabled people seeking legal hookers.
Incel.life was shut down in 2018, due to efforts by Babe Magazine. In early 2018, Alana decided to rebrand her abandoned research project to, "Love not Anger", whilst claiming that the term "incel" has acquired negative connotations. Although the trueforcedloneliness.com website is no longer operational, there nevertheless are many sporadic blogs and vlogs wherein content creators self-identify as TFLers.
In 2019, the largest anti-incel group: Found the Incel, was banned from the internet by Facebook for violent speech after an outing of sample posts on Youtube by William and courageous flagging by Master and others.
After the great Battle of Incelistan the current remaining non-niche forums are:
- Facebook's Incelistan
- Reddit's Braincels
- Reddit's Incelswithouthate
- Reddit's Foreveralone
There are many subsets of the incelosphere that cater to specific niche communities. These include:
- Non-English: Some of these include the French Virginite-tardive.fr, the German Absolute Beginners forums, the Italian forums Brutti.red and Forum of Ugly, the Japanese Kakuhido and Men Without Motivation, and the UK ForeverAloneLondon.
- Female: In the incelosphere, there are several female-oriented communities, these inclue: /r/ForeverAloneWomen and femcel support group. /r/Femcels and Trufemcels seemed to begin mostly as an astroturfing project by male incels, although they may be populated with more actual women nowadays.
- Political parties: Incelparty.win is the first political party devoted to inceldom
- Middle-aged: FA30plus is a community dedicated to incelibates who are a bit older.
- Teens: The subreddit Foreveraloneteens is geared toward teens.
- Private: The subreddit ForeverUnwanted is closed to new members.
- LGBT: incelistan.net, R/gaycel, LGBTForeverAlone and R/TransgenderIncels are forums used by truecels, incels and nearcels who are LGBT.
- Improvement: Looksmax.me, r/FAImprovement
- Dating: r/ForeverAloneDating
- Posers: wizchan has been advertised by the press as an incel board, and while they've had an influence years ago, most of the users of that site now are culture warriors who generally dislike the incel label. Wizchan has a word filter that filters 'incel' to 'crabs'. Lookism.net is mainly a board dedicated to trolling incels, and so is not much of a genuine incel board. Same with Redpilltalk, previously known as sluthate.
- Subforums: Social Anxiety Support's virginity frustration subforum, is an incel subforum that is a part of the larger Social Anxiety Support forum.
- Hikikomori: r9k, although r9k also has a lot of astroturfing and noncel anti-incels, without a policy to ban those people, and never self-identified as incel
- Selfies: Incelselfies is a place to post selfies as an incel and have people give feedback
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