I'm not sure how much of a splash it made outside the UK, but last week a so-called 'incel' went on a shooting spree in Plymouth, killing 5 people including a 3 year old girl before ending his own life. It's a desperately sad story, as these things always of course are, made somehow worse by the fact that the news media can pore over the perpetrator's YouTube rants and reddit posts in lurid detail - you could watch his last video blog on most national news websites practically before his body was cold. Ghoulishness has taken on a whole new life in the Web 2.0 era (no pun intended).
A lot of media attention has focused on the question of whether some or all incels, or at least incidents like this, should be treated as being 'terrorist', and to what extent there needs to be a crackdown on these online groups' 'violence and misogyny'. A few people have pointed out that the truth, both about Jake Davison and incels in general, is much more complicated. What's depressing is that, like almost everything else now, this has become politicised: to those on the left, this is an example of right-wing extremism fuelled by cuts to social services. To those on the right, this is an example of how privileging the status of 'victims' is driving even white men to define themselves against the perceived oppressiveness of social structure. Nobody really seems all that interested in understanding what is going wrong and, more importantly, how to fix it. It's all about the posture one adopts within one's own political subculture.
The main root of the issue seems to me that there is a fundamental problem, which all societies face, concerning how young men are socialised. This is why any traditional society one can name tends to have explicit or implicit rites of passage for adolescent boys, and robust male-bonding exercises. To put it bluntly, aggression, disagreeableness and indiscipline are traits that are much more common in young men than young women (no, not all men, do I even have to say it?) and societies all around the world have evolved methods of coping with that.
These methods tend to involve the influence of older men - fathers, uncles, older brothers, teachers, 'elders', etc. - who are there to physically and/or metaphorically give the individual young man the necessary clips around the ear so that he eventually grows up into an actual man rather than an overgrown child. Many people reading this will be sniggering about this outmoded, ill-informed, antiquated 1950s nonsense, I'm sure; all I can say is that it's informed by years of working as an educator, years of working with teenage boys doing martial arts, and years of being an actual teenage boy surrounded by lots of other teenage boys in a rough state school. If it doesn't chime with your view of reality - well, I'm not going to convince you of anything, so you might as well stop reading.
The summary: young lads have a tendency to go off the rails when they haven't been properly socialised (again, not all, but more so than girls), and it's incumbent therefore on sensible older men that they try to properly socialise younger ones. Women can of course play a role in that as well, but just as girls tend to respond better to female role models, boys tend to respond better to male ones.
Is the solution to people like Jake Davison 'play D&D'? No, it isn't that simple. But, if I look back to the pre-internet days, when I was a teenager, it is evident to me that a fair few of my peers could easily have been putative Jake Davisons if they happened to have been born 25 years later. There were plenty of lads in my school or among my peer group with bad social skills, bad hair, bad acne, bad clothes and bad attitudes. Lads who no girl in her right mind would want to even look at, let alone talk to. Let's face it: teenage boys are pretty grotesque, and some are very grotesque indeed. Left to their own devices, there are plenty of teenage boys I used to know who could easily have ended up getting 'blackpilled' on reddit if it had existed at the time.
But back then they weren't left to their own devices, because sitting in your room by yourself at home every day simply wasn't a viable option, unless you were really dedicated to walking the asocial road. No: you got into heavy metal and went to the local 'rock night' every Wednesday at the Queen Vic. Or you did judo. Or took up amateur dramatics. Or got heavily into the Scouts. Or went to church. Or went to the local youth club. Or joined a bowling team. Or tried to get good at cricket, rugby or football. Or, you played D&D or wargames at Games Workshop.
The point about this was not that getting involved in these kinds of hobbies put you in touch with girls (although that was often your aim, and a side-benefit). Rather, it put you in touch with other, often older, men - youth workers, your friends' older brothers, karate instructors, guys who were in bands, whatever. And these older men would tell you: get a fucking hair cut. Stop staring at that girl and creeping her out. Take a shower. Get a job and stop sponging. Was their advice perfect, or always sensible? No, but at least it was something. And you were infinitely more likely to listen to these people than your mother, who you probably hadn't had an actual conversation with for several years beyond 'Where are you going?' 'Out.'
It would be crass and reductionist to say that having a regular face to face D&D group would have stopped Jack Davison murdering people. I didn't know the man from Adam after all. But having that sort of hobby is part of the necessary social fabric which prevents many such people living the kind of atomised, unsituated, disconnected lives that drive them slowly mad and hateful. That fabric is fraying, but it can be mended if enough people want to try, and involvement in hobbies (real hobbies, done with real people, in the real world) is a bigger part of it than people think.