‘How do I become blue pilled?’: masculine ontological insecurity on 4chan’s advice board

Marcus Maloney, Steven Roberts, Callum Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Through an analysis of 4chan’s /adv/ or ‘advice’ board – in which predominately male users seek advice on life matters – here we examine masculine ontological insecurity and its implications for understanding how ‘toxic’ masculine identities emerge, and how young men more generally struggle to make sense of their lives. Advancing extant scholarship, our findings uncover an ‘on the cusp’ masculine identity – subject to the anxieties and self-perceived failures which act as preconditions of toxic ideologies and outcomes, but also seemingly yet to practice such (il)logics. Responses from the community suggest three ways of addressing, or making sense of, the problems users faced. Finally, and of relevance to both the theorising of contemporary masculinities and related socio-positive interventions, we highlight the (seemingly) odd paradox of vulnerable male users being drawn to express their vulnerabilities on a platform notorious for its insensitivities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalNew Media and Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • 4chan
  • manosphere
  • masculinities online
  • ontological insecurity
  • toxic masculinity

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