Today, the tectonic rumblings of what Donald Trump might have done to whom probably drowned out a interesting news from a celebrity. He’s Pete Davidson, a funny guy who’s known for his SNL performances and currently being engaged to Ariana Grande. He quit the internet, and left a great message while signing off (emphasis mine):
“No nothing happened. No there’s nothing cryptic about anything. I just don’t wanna be on Instagram anymore. Or on any social media platform. The internet is an evil place and it doesn’t make me feel good,” the comedian said. “Why should I spend any time on negative energy when my real life is f***ing lit. The fact that I even have to say this proves my point. I love you all and I’m sure I’ll be back at some point. :) your neighborhood goon, Pete.”
This was probably something you didn’t know or track in the cacophony of celebrity news, but Davidson has signalled something that few have done. He’s at the beginning of the end of public figures on the Internet, and frankly, the Internet is an evil place.
So, what’s up then, is the Internet really an evil place?
Out here, you’ll find every voice, every ideal, and every kind of evil fantasy you can imagine (and maybe a few you can’t). This is not public discourse anymore, it’s often just a free-for-all. That’s ok, and perhaps you could say it’s important, but it’s not working well for those that make a living as public figures. In many ways, the faster the Internet population grows, there will be a point where posting any point of view will be attacked vehemently by numerous people and robots.
And, let’s talk about those that choose to be be outwardly provocative. There’s a point (I think anyway) where a comedian can get a feel for his audience and tell if the room can take the lines he’s going to cross. Jokes are just that – jokes. But, when a provocative joke goes out to the world via something like Twitter, this may get you fired 8 years later. Maybe that’s a good thing but it remains clear that a corner of the Internet is evil enough to dig that shit up 8 years later and make you pay.
And then there are those that have come from the Internet ether as lightning rods. Not crazy or looie enough to be push out, and not provocative enough to be fired – but they attract every kind of hate and love all at once. These personalities are the new public figures of this Internet world we’ve created. People like Joe Rogan and, to a degree Donald Trump share that patina of teflon. They seem well-suited for toeing the line between too much and just enough. They embrace the hate and the love. They have self-assigned ideologies. This is all to say that we’re collectively coming out of the “Hey, how does this thing work” phase, and moving right into “Outrage” before everyone’s skin is thick enough to handle all of the evils.
So, I understand why Davidson called it quits. I understand why more and more celebrities are checking out of social media entirely, and this even includes those that embraced it previously. This is going to accelerate until no one interesting is left, and they’ll live on the Internet like they do in the real world, in gated communities. The kind of thick skin that is needed to be an artist who’s looking to get noticed and simultaneously juggle the evils of the Internet; well that probably doesn’t exist outside of a superhero.
Today I came accross a great video of T. J. Miller talking about the Internet and the rumors circulating about him.