Marginalized attention-seekers

I suppose it’s good to see it confirmed in academic language, but the nihilism of marginalized attention-seekers has been in plain sight for a long while.

The authors describe “chaos incitement” as a “strategy of last resort by marginalized status-seekers,” willing to adopt disruptive tactics. Trump, in turn, has consistently sought to strengthen the perception that America is in chaos, a perception that has enhanced his support while seeming to reinforce his claim that his predecessors, especially President Barack Obama, were failures.

Petersen, Osmundsen and Arceneaux find that those who meet their definition of having a “need for chaos” express that need by willingly spreading disinformation. Their goal is not to advance their own ideology but to undermine political elites, left and right, and to “mobilize others against politicians in general.”

Certainly, the incandescent hypocrisy of the Evangelical Right — Donald Trump’s hardcore base — is animated by its declining status. I’m not so sure this explains conspiracy ‘theorists’ of the Ales Jones stripe, however; what status did those whackjobs ever enjoy? They’re more a case of Hunter Thompson’s famous observation, I suspect: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

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