• Thu. May 30th, 2024

Why did a guy leak classified documents on discord?

BySam Marks

May 5, 2023

Recently an absurd story has made headline news about a 21-year-old U.S. Air Force National Guard employee, Jack Teixeira, who leaked a plethora of classified documents on a Discord server he was running. When initially hearing the story, I laughed the whole thing off as completely ridiculous that a guy would do something so idiotic. But as I read up more about the story, I became more worried about the content on the Discord server Jack was running rather than the documents themselves. 

Jack’s Discord server (the name of which has racist connotations) was primarily a video gaming server of around 30 people, mostly teenagers. However, this channel was host to a multitude of alt-right conspiracy theories that promoted bigotry to non-white male groups. The teens on the Discord (who were roughly 14 to 17) saw Jack as a sort of role model. Jack himself released the classified documents on the server largely to impress the kids, solidifying his role as someone to look up to. How did a guy like Jack, who sent videos of himself chanting racist, homophobic, and sexist slurs while firing at a shooting range, become a role model for a Discord server of kids playing video games? For a lot of young white males, this story is common when growing up in the age of social media. 

I remember from 9-years-old to 12-years-old, I would get home from school and watch ‘Skydoesminecraft’ on Youtube every single day. This was before Youtube was massively monetized and regulated: it was edgy, anti-establishment, and somewhat of a counterculture. It was stuff I loved to watch but my parents absolutely hated. Sky was my equivalent of Jack in the sense that he was a role model for a lonely kid who had bad social skills, developed a bit later than most of his grade, and got his fair share of bullying. 

I’m about to turn 20 now, and Sky hasn’t aged well since I was 10. Sky has come under severe allegations for gaslighting, taking advantage of friends, domestic abuse, defending people convicted for child pornography, and a whole bunch of stuff that made me wonder how a guy who played Minecraft (just like I did as a kid) could allegedly do some seriously evil stuff. The sad part is that these allegations were all open secrets that when I look back retrospectively, the red flags were clear and present. But as a pre-teen, these weren’t so easily identifiable. The young fanbases give these influencers legitimacy because they are kids. While they may be aware of some red flags, they probably don’t process the gravity of what is happening until they look back on it. Some never do process it and continue down a slope of radicalization. 

Figures like Sky are replicated repeatedly but have adapted to include more components than just gaming. Around 2016 (a year after I stopped watching Sky) political extremities became a new edgy counterculture for young white men to engage in. Whereas in 2012, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were seen as both men who loved their country but disagreed on what was best for it, in 2016, depending on if you were Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton supporter, your opposition was a group that actively hated the country. Those apolitical video game communities pre-2016 were now hotbeds of right-wing political influence that got more pronounced over time. 

After Sky, names like Steven Crowder, Alex Jones, and Andrew Tate emerged to influence young males under increasingly right-wing views. While suggesting they are fighting against a system of inequality, these influencers preach the ideals of the very systems of inequality that would keep them in positions of power. The videogame culture I participated in was largely apolitical but has now been merged with alt-right culture, causing a huge amount of radicalization through social media. When influencers get canceled, banned of platforms, or arrested, they go down as martyrs in the communities they influenced. This is where Jack comes into play. 

Jack is just another iteration of Sky: a sad, lonely, problematic person who’s angry at the world and takes it out of groups who are easy targets. Only now, these targets are entire populations versus people in their own personal life. They take out their sadness on social political issues rather than just video games. Young, white, mostly working-class, males need better role models inside the social media realm. Most of the role models who currently have the mouthpiece espouse their anger with the world on to “others”. The impressionable who listen to them are in danger of misplacing their anger with the system and personal lives on to “others”, which has already and will continue to inspire violence.

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