John: We need to talk about self-radicalization.
Donald: You mean like the Orlando shooter?
John: All the walls in the world won’t keep out the people who were born in this country.
Donald: Bannon proposed a four grandparent rule, but that excluded me, so I shut it down.
John: One technique seems to be infiltration of a major thread to redirect unsuspecting users down a dark path. When everyone starts sharing suicide hotline numbers, the people who tend toward depression come out of the woodwork. They’re easy to spot, and easy to target. A second technique is the so-called rabbit hole attack, wherein a user clicks a link that shares very specific metadata with a whole system of websites designed to immerse the user in an alternate reality. Depending on how much interaction the user has with other people in the real world, this alternate reality can persist, feeding on itself, until the user takes drastic action out of fear.
Donald: That can’t be real.
John: It gets worse, sir. There are fifty million Americans each in their own hall of mirrors.
Donald: What’s a hall of mirrors?
John: It’s a vanity online presence. Each one is the center of their own universe which magnifies their importance and warps their sense of perspective. It’s like the pool of narcissus. People spend all day preening in their digital mirrors. They literally have no idea what’s going on, and they don’t care.
Donald: Can you repeat that? I wasn’t listening. My Twitter is blowing up.
John: There’s also a wall of negativity. Fear of vaccines. Fear of GMOs. Fear of Hillary Clinton. Fear of Donald Trump.
Donald: That’s unamerican. This guy is burning a flag and tagged me in the photo.
John: It’s full scale psychological warfare, sir. If we got rid of the smart phones, we could break the spell, but at this point we might as well try to outlaw guns.
Donald: Absolutely not. It’ll never get through Congress.
John: Of course not, sir. Executive summary: Fifty million Americans are naval gazing, fifty million Americans are paralyzed by fear, and all the rest are on a fake news thrill ride that’s turning them against their fellow Americans.
Donald: Fear not, John. I’m steering that thrill ride.
Note: This is satire.