The making of a racist, sexist religion of nihilism on 4Chan
In their apparent indifference to content and their commitment to aestheticized irony, shitposters resemble the disengaged ironists the 19th-century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard discussed in texts like The Concept of Irony and Either/Or. According to Kierkegaard, the ironist “poetically composes himself and his environment with the greatest possible poetic license” and lives “in this totally hypothetical and subjunctive way.” Every act is an act of self-creation: Stories that are told are not descriptive of “true” facts out there but rather ways in which the ironist can prove his power, his philosophical strength, his verbal dexterity. He says things just to be the sort of person who says them. The ironist maintains his power by taking no position, starting every argument anew. “There is something seductive about every beginning, because the subject is again free, and it is this pleasure the ironist longs for,” Kierkegaard writes in The Concept of Irony. “In such moments, actuality loses its validity for him; he is free, above it.” For that freedom, the ironist is willing to say anything, make any argument, undeterred by any fear of being called to account. That is, the ironist is the proto-troll.