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DMX, Earl Sweatshirt & Jean Paul Sartre: The Effects of The Internet on The Human Condition


* DMX was recently admitted to the hospital due to a heart attack. Prayers & condolences to his family & anyone who knew or loved him, my condolences to anyone like me who's loved his music & felt like they knew the person. His words resonate now more than ever before. X was more than just his party records, even though Party Up (Up In Here) is the greatest party song of all time. Go back and listen to his albums, listen to the words in the songs. X was an artist with a message he wanted to convey, & like all great artists, he was a medium for a transcendent & timeless message that resonates on a bunch of levels. Get well soon X!*

There’s no protocol for the Internet. There were no guidelines, no rulebooks, no stories. There was nothing your parents could tell you, or school could teach you, for what you were getting yourself into.

I don’t remember getting on the internet. I am the first member in my family to not remember getting on the internet. My older siblings and my parents remember their first time on the internet. My older sister remembers the first computer, the first iPod, & the first iPhone, all as particularly remarkable changes to her life. I just remember all of that being in the house. I just knew how to use paint, I had my own Email account at 6, I was constantly going through various websites. I would spend hours after school on YouTube and MSN in the 4th Grade. My parents were still figuring out how to type. This isn’t because I’m smarter than anyone, it's because I’m the first generation of humans to be born into the internet.

In the 90s people were still figuring out Home Computers, the internet required dial up connection, it was clunkier, and much smaller. The changes that happened to Technology from the 2000’s-2010’s is nothing short of remarkable. It changed the world, but we didn’t know that.

I was born in 1998. Growing up, I had a vague idea of how "new" the internet was. I knew my parents didn't have computers until around the time I was born. We were allowed completely free access to the internet, without any supervision or restriction, because those older than me didn’t understand what it was, better than me. Our parents got us computers because they wanted to prepare us for the future & it was the thing to do.

I remember when that first iPhone came out & how big of a deal that was. Kids at school wouldn’t stop talking about it. It was this cool, futuristic looking device, we didn’t even know what it was but we wanted it. I saw the rise of smartphones, I saw the changes it caused in my generation & I’m seeing the changes it’s causing in the next generation.

The internet changed my generation visibly. We were the first generation to have access to internet fame, influencers, mass connection, & internet challenges. All of my friends in Middle School had YouTube channels, most of them had videos up. We made vines & used Instagram. I remember when all of these things were created & today the effects might be obvious, but they were not at the time.

My parents had no clue what we were doing on our devices. They didn’t know I was pirating thousands of movies, songs & tv shows. They didn't know about blogs, forums, Cracked, the cinnamon challenge, Reddit, 4Chan, PornHub, Yahoo Answers, Creepy Pastas, Smosh, Ray William Johnson, scary maze game, Vines, Memes, or Tumblr. Internet culture was this weird thing outside of the world. My parents don’t understand the trauma I faced when I looked up what Blue Waffle is, or when my friend made me watch 2 Girls 1 Cup. They don’t understand the scars grooved into your brain when you see, what you see, when you go through Omegle. It was a very, very, fun time to be a child.

The level of freedom we had on the internet was also a symptom of the times. The internet wasn’t completely monopolized by tech companies, we were allowed to connect and meet with strange human beings on the other side of the world. We had friends in different time zones we’d stay up so we could skype.

Then something strange happened, the internet began merging with the real world. I saw kids get suspended from school for doing Smack cams because of vine challenges, I saw the beginning of the WorldStar age. I have seen internet culture become mainstream reality. My mom sends me memes now.

YouTube wasn’t restricted, very few people had millions of views, it was actually just a video social media. You could reply to other regular peoples videos, & reply to their comments . Now YouTube is a studio with its own artists, & brand deals. YouTube sold out. But so did every other company. The internet became real life. A lot of corporations had to begin censoring in order to appease the masses, just like television networks.

The internet abandoned individualism for conformity. Individuality and differences of opinion are the backbone of the internet. You would meet the strangest, most insane & most authentic people in the world. All of those slightly racist drunk people you’d meet at 4 am have been replaced by Instagram models, YouTubers & Tik Tok dance moves for Fortnite.

A guy like Alex Jones is built specifically for the Internet, you can’t have that man on network television. But all of these tech companies that have monopolized the internet have blackballed him. The problem lies in our sources of information becoming centralized, based on Payola & marketing. If most people's access to information is the internet, & their access to the internet is through corporations, that gives those corporations & apps a huge ethical responsibility to providing the most accurate sources of information.

But that’s not how the Tech oligarchs operate, which is why many of them are in court battles today. But outside of limiting information, they’ve privatized the human mind. These platforms tell us what we are allowed to say, when we are allowed to say it & how we are allowed to say it. They understand all of our habits, they have designed these things to be as addictive as possible, yet they also take political & social stances, that no companies in the past would dare take. We are made to believe there is a correct ethical team & that is the one this corporation is backing. Twitter takes political stances, and in doing so, censor free speech, which they are technically allowed to do, because it is their platform, but there is something sinister about it, because we didn’t know what we were getting into, & they did.

“I feel tremendous guilt,” admitted Chamath Palihapitiya, former Vice President of User Growth at Facebook, to an audience of Stanford students. He was responding to a question about his involvement in exploiting consumer behavior. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works,” he explained. In Palihapitiya’s talk, he highlighted something most of us know but few really appreciate: smartphones and the social media platforms they support are turning us into bona fide addicts. While it’s easy to dismiss this claim as hyperbole, platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram leverage the very same neural circuitry used by slot machines and cocaine to keep us using their products as much as possible.

I didn’t know what I accepted in the terms & agreements contract, both literally & figuratively. I was too young to understand the ramifications this device had on my mind. I am conditioned to autopilot through apps for several hours, I seek the dopamine from the likes. I’ve had a general internet notoriety since I was a kid, I had a WWE Memes page with thousands of followers when I was a kid, & now I have a media platform with over 2 million reach, but I didn’t understand what it meant then, & I don’t understand what it means now.

When guys like FouseyTube, who have ascended to levels of internet fame that few have ever reached, come out to discuss the effects internet notoriety had on their mental health, I don’t take it lightly. An unhealthy need for social validation breeds mental illness, generally, but especially at such wide scales. Our brains aren’t used to consuming this much stimuli, information and feedback about ourselves.

Internet clout becomes its own currency, a statement of self worth. The amount of followers you have proves how valuable you are as a person. There are tons of internet celebrities that have come out and spoken about how Virality & internet fame has deteriorated their mental health.

Earl Sweatshirt once Tweeted “resist being viral if u tryna reserve and promote some humanity yo !! the rapid ascent is answered with a violent nosedive on some laws of nature shit ❤️ we can share art and celebrate it without foaming at the mouth and thoughtlessly consuming”

This isn’t advice I got when I was young because nobody could give it to me, & nobody told Earl. He had to learn that from experience. Thebe got his rise to fame with the Odd Future collective at 16, they got their rise through internet virality. Earl has detailed his bouts with depression on multiple albums, & he believed Internet virality had something to do with it.

A lot of my favourite rappers are dying & going to jail, so they can gain social media clout. People incriminate themselves in order to fit into the mold of what an internet celebrity is. Even Jake Paul is a rapper with gun charges. The internet is just continuing the television model of fame, just on a broader scale, and its affecting a wider array of people. DMX’s poem “The industry” echoes the exact same sentiments a lot of young people on the internet are feeling today.

“The industry; man its not the same

The industry; its not a fucking game

The industry; real niggas is dying to get in

The industry; just to find they don't fit in

The industry; ain't what it used to be

The industry; trying to control the way you MC

They want you to dress like that this and talk like that

But I'm gon' dress like this and talk with the bat

The industry; got y'all word meaning nothing

The industry; fuck what you heard cause he's bluffing

The industry; money, bitches, hate

But I dare you to try to take a fucking thing off my plate

The industry like "Wait!", but in the streets we like "Get 'em"

Seventeen up in that thing, catch 'em sleeping and hit 'em

And Ima pop whoever with 'em, the coroner is coming to get 'em

Industry niggas, so that's how I did 'em

The industry; mad niggas is full of shit

The industry; mad niggas is sucking dick

The industry; bitches keep thinking its a game

The industry; don't mention my fucking name

The industry; mad niggas is full of shit

The industry; mad niggas is sucking dick

The industry; bitches keep thinking its a game

The industry; don't mention my fucking name, nigga

The Industry; if you ain't got a strong mind

The industry; will break you down its a matter of time

The industry; vultures with nothing to feast on

The industry; see me I'm getting my beast on

The industry; staying in the dirt, playing in the dirt

Touch the wrong one in the industry and you will get hurt

I'm not an industry artist, I'm an artist in the industry

That's why I do what the fuck I want, cause nobody can finish me

The industry; wanted dead or alive

New artist to sell they souls, the way they survive

The industry don't give a fuck about you

But the industry couldn't make a dime without you

The industry; I'm sick of this industry shit

The industry; playing you like a industry bitch

They try to finish me quick but I am long, so I stand strong

Fuck a beat, listen to the words of the damn song”

It would be a lie to say that the whole thing is bad, I love the internet. I love internet culture, I love memes, I go on the hunt for obscure YouTube videos and strangers blogs because of how much I love this thing. I’m by no means complaining. The fact that you could create something from the comfort of your room, & share it with the world, is one of the most groundbreaking feats in recent human history. I love being able to create things for the internet, we run an Internet Culture media platform because of how much we love it. I have benefited immensely from it, & have met a lot of great people through it. I have been able to share my art with people that enjoy it and build a community around that basis.

But the bigger we get, the more I find myself, restricting myself, or reconstructing my art, based on the norms of the time, the appropriateness of what I’m about to say, or how elegant it sounds. Granted a bit of etiquette is necessary when using any form of rhetoric, but I find myself having less fun creating things for the internet, the more that I care about what the internet would think. When I started this platform I was an insane 19 year old person, at an insane point in my life, at an insane point in human history, and I was compelled to express it. This platform, like the internet, was built on free expression.

Now, I am an insane 22 year old, at an even more insane point in my life, at an extremely more insane point in human history, & I am being asked to restrict my voice more than ever. We have been banned from certain corporate platforms & various subreddits for not conforming to their standards of rhetoric, even though we get thousands of people that understand and support the vision.

The internet used to be about ultimate expression. I can’t begin to tell you the conversations my friends & I would have with strangers on various forums, Paltalk, blogs, Omegle & Reddit. It was authentic, it wasn’t this pacified existence platforms are trying to bring. Those videos of Doja Cat in group chats with incels was just how the internet was back in the day. The internet was destroying walls & breaking boundaries, you were able to see a different perspective. Expression and communication is a way to build bridges between humans, ideology isolates. There was actual individuality, true freedom of expression, a real thirst for information, and unrivaled creativity. Now, most of the internet is monopolized, anything authentic is shadow banned, banished and canceled, and it's gone past the point of political correction into an outright war on realness.

These Instagram models aren’t what people look like, those girls on Jimmy Fallon did not invent those dance moves, these big YouTubers aren’t living regular lives, these clout chasers committing the most insane stunts for fame don’t represent the average person, the average person needs to represent the average person, & that’s what the internet used to be.

If you look through the articles on this website, you will find various contradicting statements, hypocritical thinking, spelling mistakes, entertainment, insightfulness, strong opinions and passion. We don’t promise to be the most politically correct, we don’t promise to always say the right things, & we are not role models, we are just trying to figure life out, backed with a genuine idealism.

Any time I write, I am personally trying to remind you to maintain your individuality & authenticity, don’t be me, be you. Don’t be anyone else either, our influencer culture makes us have to emulate someone else in order to feel whole or successful. You’re the only you, and you can only be the best you, by being the realest you & I’m gonna keep being me, because that is who I am, if it’s flawed then it’s flawed, but at least it’s real & that’s more than a lot of people can say.

Jean Paul Sartre once said “Hell is other people” The line comes from a 1944 existentialist play by the French philosopher called No Exit. In the play, three people are trapped in Hell — which is a single room — and ultimately, while confessing their sins to one another, end up falling into a bizarre love triangle. The confinement of the characters extends beyond their physical holding room: they are trapped by the judgments of their cellmates. That's why one of the characters says, "Hell is other people" — because of how we are unable to escape the watchful gaze of everyone around us. "By there mere appearance of the Other," says Sartre in Being and Nothingness, "I am put in the position of passing judgment on myself as on an object, for it is as an object that I appear to the Other."

If you’re in a park alone, then you are only the observer, the park presents itself to you with trees above your head and a chipmunk running around, but once another person enters the park, you are now an object, forced to react according to how you want to be perceived, which ultimately isn’t your completely authentic mode of being.

Tailoring ourselves to the gaze of others is the first ticket to losing ourselves and being in personal hell. I appreciate anyone who has ever clicked an article, donated on Patreon, purchased merchandise, follows the Instagram, or supports this platform in any way, but being ourselves is what made this fun & interesting, and we're not going to change that. Who wants to see the people that are correct all the time? Let us freely be insane young people, at an insane point in time.

The rise of Cryptocurrency, NFTs and digital capital is quite literally moving the world into the Internet, the HyperReality is already here. My nephew was born in 2009, he doesn’t remember his first experience on an iPhone. He just knows he’s always known how to use them. He would help our grandmother on her phone at 6 years old because he knew how to work it better than her. But his access to the internet is vastly more restricted than mine. The world is more censored, all of his favourite YouTubers are backed by some network or Fortnite, there’s less things to see, his mom understands technology better, she understands the internet better, she understands parental locks & things of that nature, but he’s still allowed to be on his device for as long as he wants, just like the rest of us.

All of us are moving into the internet, we are all PR agents & brand ambassadors for our own brand. Everyone is a content creator to some degree, & that’s a positive thing. Being more creative & expressive is better for your health, it's better for your brain, it helps you learn, develop & evolve as a person. But you need to remember your individuality, express yourself, not what you're allowed to express. What makes you unique, what makes you different, accentuate those traits, embrace them.

We can’t be Jake Paul, we can’t be Joe Budden, we can’t be Charlamagne, we can’t be Jay Z or Tyler The Creator, Playboi Carti, A$AP Rocky or Ninja. We can only be our true selves. I don’t want to conform to the standards of the internet today, I want to be abrasive in my expression & individuality, and I suggest you do too.

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