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2ch Brain (2ch脳) is a type of ~Brain, a figure of speech commonly applied to users of certain boards on 2channel (later known as 5channel), especially to those that use these sites a lot. It's a pejorative term for those 2chan users who have been wronged by society.
In the early days of 5chan the otakus that made up the main user base of the platform were growing increasingly resentful due to the otaku hatred and anti-intellectualism of the 90s.
As you can tell from the site's slogan "from hacking to tonight's dinner", 5chan has something for everyone: It's divided into several categories called boards and each board is dedicated to its own specific topic. Within these boards there are threads where users of the site can post and have discussions. Thus, it comes as no surprise, that it had become the perfect place for members of the otaku community to vent their spleen.
Social movements aren't all that common in Japan nowadays and there is no other way to fight for Otaku rights so they pretty much resort to online criticism and poking fun at their detractors.
Thus, the culture of "The food tastes better when you're watching other people suffer" was born.
Although the site wasn't really a "Wild West", so to speak, as more and more people started using the site breaking the rules had become increasingly more common. The number of so-called "autonomous threads" had also decreased drastically at the time.
Since the late 2000s urban legends like the "Train Man", Japanese video-sharing platform Nico Nico Douga, various comment aggregator sites (copy&paste blogs) or news sites for 2ch brains have all contributed to the rapid growth of 2chan.
In the 2010s, to avoid using the same name over and over again and because there are cases where the term isn't necessarily the mot juste to use, people came up with synonyms to 2ch brain, each corresponding to a different set of characteristics.
|Keyboard Warrior||Confirmation Bias|
|Group Polarization||Moral Hazard|
|Circle Jerk||False Accusation|
|Internet Grasshopper||Internet Vigilantism|
2ch brains tend to use their anonymity to their advantage, this is where the so-called "Online disinhibition effect" comes into play or in other words, people have a tendency to be more aggressive online since they have the ability to remain completely anonymous.
Although it should be noted that it's not about not using your real identity in the online world. 2ch brains can be found on sites like Facebook where people use their real name and profile picture all the time (with some exceptions) and other mainstream websites or social media platforms, Youtubers, celebrities, people that write articles for magazines or get featured in them, talk shows, they all have their own "2ch brains" so it's really not an "anonymity issue".
One way to solve this problem once and for all would be either stricter laws (regarding penalties) or improving the already existing ones so as to make it really hard to commit online crimes, however, as of right now it doesn't seem to be a possibility. Therefore, the only real solution to combat this issue is improving the way users behave online by encouraging other users to follow the netiquette and spreading information literacy.
They have a cynical outlook on life and have nothing nice to say
Essentially, they are contrarian people who always need to be right, they want to come out on top no matter what, they look on everything with a jaundiced eye from the get-go. Negativity is all they see, regardless of compliments or positive feedback. They sympathize with people that get criticized (like violent criminals) and root for the underdog because more often than not they can relate to them on a personal level.
Even if an opinion is well-researched and overall authoritative, to them it's still not reliable enough, they even call out people who are legitimate experts on the subject matter, claiming that they must be a fraud. Even if someone doesn't take a side and they have a neutral opinion, they would just unilaterally decide that they are a shill, a conspiracy theorist, someone who has ulterior motives (like profit) or just a relentless supporter of said cause, seeing everything as black and white or good and evil.
Citing sources from the internet
Just to clarify, there is nothing wrong with citing sources from the internet, they can be reliable as well, but when it comes to personal Twitter accounts, Matome sites, 5chan, social media websites or even just rumors that can't be possibly verified, these are typically breeding grounds for fake news and misinformation and especially disinformation. They say stuff like "It's on the internet, so it must be true", or that it's just common sense to rely on aforementioned sites, they go on to claim that it's already been refuted on the internet so it can't be true. They are pretty much as gullible as they come.
To them, the TV and the newspapers are unreliable sources that can't be trusted and even if the media says something that would disprove their unsubstantiated claims, they just double down and call it a conspiracy or an outright lie, they believe that the media is trying to hide the truth. Because of this confirmation bias that they have, their truth is the only truth that they can see, no matter how shady-looking a website is or how dubious a source of information seems to be, if it validates their claims, they take it as gospel. Sometimes this can cause serious financial loss to the persons involved.
Because the TV, newspapers, the internet or social media as sources of information can be both right and wrong, it is of utmost importance that we practice information and media literacy while browsing the internet, taking everything we get from these media outlets with a grain of salt, inspecting them carefully and essentially separating the wheat from the chaff.
They want to control the narrative while being extremely obnoxious and hateful
Hate is what they're all about: they flood you with things like "retard", "kys", "fucking moron", "dipshit", they'll trash talk the dernier cri or the latest fad or just people they don't like for some reason, they're completely against anything mainstream or popular using everything in their arsenal to attack their target(s), a staggering amount of discriminatory slurs, calling them names, baiting people, nothing is off-limits when it comes to their aggressive approach. They often rely on sarcasm to convey their message.
Even if the other party is in the wrong or there is an error in their reasoning, they'd just take advantage of it, dragging them down for making a mistake.
Some do not have tolerance for people who they disagree with, like disabled people, aspies, right or left-wingers or people of Korean descent, they try to assert their dominance and show that they are superior to others, to simply put, they have no regard for people that see things differently. In some cases they're only tough on the internet and wouldn't dare to act the same way in real life, also known as keyboard warriors.
However, keep in mind that when it comes to criticizing them, hurling insults at them like "you freaking 2ch Brains" is a no-no, cause essentially it would mean that you're no better than them, you shouldn't use this word just to bash them.
They only see things in black and white (see Good and Evil Dualism)
There is no middle ground, everything is either good or evil, superb or extremely low quality, masterpiece or a complete failure, there are only people who are in full support of or entirely against an idea, people who are either outstanding citizens or dregs of society and some of them believe that everyone gets rewarded or punished accordingly, though things are usually more nuanced than that. In recent years people have started calling them 1-bit brains (because computers use the base-2 numeral system, meaning that they essentially think in 1s and 0s or in this case, good and evil, so it's pretty spot-on).
This can be attributed to their lack of experience when it comes to actual debates or discussions, some kind of chemical imbalance that they have or just the clickbaity and sensational headlines of Matome sites. If they saw things as they are in the real world (although not always), they'd quickly come to the realization that people can have good and bad qualities at the same time.
Because of their inherently skewed perspective, they go out of their way to create toxic environments in which they lash out on each other over things like video games hardware (Playstation vs Xbox, etc.), AT vs MT driving license or the whole Sub vs. Dub debate.
If it was just light-hearted fun like the Greate Debate over Mushroom Mountain vs. Bamboo Shoot Village, it would be fine, but unfortunately both sides employ ad hominem attacks and slurs which used to be few and far between, only appearing on specific sites but is now widespread on social media and other platforms thanks to the negative influence of Matome sites.
They have no regard for ethics and eventually lose their moral compass too
They become almost like a psychopath (sociopath), failing to show any sort of basic human decency, spewing discriminatory slurs and even sink so low as to commit hate crimes. They break taboos as if it was nothing, and they basically don't care as long as they can get away with it scot-free. This has led to multiple arrests in the past, like in the Smiley Kikuchi Internet Slander Case.
Examples include internet vigilantism, announcing their plan to commit crime in advance, bragging about it and spreading false rumors in order to damage someone's reputation. Some Matome sites don't shy away from using sensational and clickbaity headlines or word their articles in such a way that would ruffle most people's feathers.
For more information, check out the article on Moral Hazard.
A somewhat similar term would be Part-time Job Shenanigans, but it's hard to say how much of it can be attributed to the internet and in many cases it's quite the opposite: They're new to the internet and that's what causes them to behave like that, so it's safe to say that these terms are not exactly the same thing.
They thrive on schadenfreude
Of course, it goes without saying that the breakdown of moral values and standards leads to them adopting the "Others' misfortune is a hell of a drug" mindset of 5chan and comments like these,
- "Serves you right"
- "Oh, you're cold, X? lol"
- "You're still alive, X? lol"
are not uncommon. If the person on the receiving end conforms to this type of behavior, it becomes a case of Group Polarization.