In the parlance of our times, to “red pill” is to become aware of the lies that undergird modern civilization, thereby giving you license to act like a douche online. Since most of the people who believe they have “red pilled” were already acting like douches online, the effect of this concept boils down to a slightly greater sense of entitlement among insular communities of already-entitled douches. All of this is well known, and not very interesting.

The interesting thing about the red pill concept is that it is actually the exact inverse of what its proponents claim. The reference is to the 1999 movie The Matrix, in which a hacker bro is offered a choice between a blue pill, to “believe whatever you want.” Or a red pill, to “see how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

In spite of the reference to the drug-induced hallucinations of Alice in Wonderland, he takes the red pill. He then experiences the physical death of his body, leaves the confines of the apparent world, and comes to the realization that he is no mere hacker bro — he is in fact the One True Hacker Jesus, Webmaster of the Universe.

The ludicrousness of this savior scenario is painfully emphasized in the Matrix sequels, in which Hacker Jesus engages in utterly pointless fake fights in a fake world, and confronts the Father God instantiated as Colonel Sanders. To raise the stakes, the Hacker Jesus Powers eventually bleed over into the “real” world, revealing the entire scenario for what it is — a delusion.

The red pill was in fact a trap. And what better trap for someone who thinks they’re special than to make them think they’ve escaped the world and become its savior?

What is eventually revealed by the Matrix sequels — the way they’re irrational-yet-boring like listening to someone narrate their dreams — is that from the point of swallowing the “red pill,” we are actually watching the extended hallucination at the end of the movie Brazil. With no hope for escape, the prisoner fever-dreams themselves as a heroic savior, free of all constraints.

The red pill is the final, most horrifying imprisoning illusion — escape from the world itself.