The internet in 2022 was hell

photo illustration: cutting; Photo: Getty

We’ve officially settled into the “before times.” The many transitions, disasters, and changes of the past few years have settled into a drowsy sense of a return to normal life. And throughout it all, we’ve mentioned: COVID, the lockdowns, the Jan. 6 insurrection, the mass protest movements. In February, when Russia invaded Ukraine — with actual tanks — a World War III onslaught on Twitter and TikTok not only felt predictable, but also felt disturbingly normal. At some point, the more twisted, taboo, and spoiled the memes became, the more my ability to keep a straight face suffered.

The internet has also reacted in other ways, of course, all similar routines in 2022: big headlines followed by quote tweets criticizing or reacting to those headlines, cute slideshows and slideshows and sad slideshows that should have already had a content warning, activity Influencers, solidarity profile picture changes, and swirls of misinformation. Real-life footage of mass migration and war flooded the Internet, becoming even more content in an already crowded space.

In a way, we feel compelled to always “say something,” to respond to devastating events like war in the most deflected and protective of ways on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, anywhere on the internet and public. We respond to devastation with light displays on the Internet that indicate how much we know and how good the care is. While this isn’t entirely new, looking back at the past 12 months, our online behavior has seemed like the fun-house version of years past — more reckless, more rambunctious, more shameless.

It makes sense, then, that we would refer to the places where we spend the most time online as “hell sites”. Chief among them, of course, is Twitter — currently literally on fire since its acquisition by Elon Musk in October — where QAnon theorists can now buy verification, misinformation about COVID is not an issue, and Trump is back. It’s devil’s time, baby!

Then there is the current state of discourse in those hellish locations. This spring, an entire cottage industry of commentators, “reporters,” conspiracy theorists, fans, and opportunistic content creators began fanning the flames of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s public trial. YouTube creators with just a few followers can make videos – something as simple as Amber Heard’s infamous edit – earning millions of monetizable views. Many of these creators were lawyers, and it was claimed that their jobs held them to strict ethical standards. You are he could They say they were tempted or enticed to act out of character or in dishonorable ways, as if the devil had forced their hands on them.

But those thousands of creators, just in case deb Fifth. he heardwas able to cash in on the winning formula of ill-intentioned engagement, anti-intellect and hate Because Social media platforms are optimized to do this. Even if you think you’re too good to be spoiled by the internet, you can’t deny that to the extent we turn to data — to be mined and sold — in fact, we’re grateful. And our negativity is fed to us as empowerment statements, the ultimate form of self-knowledge, and everything you need to make the right purchases.

In Hell, the ultimate punishment is often endless repetition, and the Internet is now saturated with nostalgia.”trendsthat look to the very recent past of content, as if we ran out far History to repeat. Trends like “girlfriends at home” and “skinny-in” are trends not because they’re new, but because they’re recurring. From “old money” to Catholicism, we’re seeing the same, often oppressive, ideas being regrouped and refocused. Viral aesthetics and subcultures, like Coquettes (known for their nostalgic performances of hyper-feminine girlhood), blur the line between conservatism and subversion. For some, aesthetic subcultures are just guides for how to dress, but for others, they’re a way to test drive a set of more regressive values—what is New York times It was described as “retro chic”.

This lack of modernity—and I mean the kind of large-scale modernity that makes it seem like shit is happening, the kind of transformation that makes the earth shake a little bit—is often called the Dark Age. When faced with the bright fires of hell, we turn inward, retreat into our own darkness, and find comfort in the familiar ideas that once helped the world make sense. We’re stuck, in fight and flight mode at the same time.

Venkatesh Rao, a trend forecaster, thinks it’s possible we’ve been in our own dark age since 2017. For Rao, who categorizes millennial and Gen Z cultures in refreshingly nuanced terms like “excellent average” and “comfortable local,” the dark age is “the breakdown of the movement.” historical.” As Rao said on his Ribbonfarm website, “The strange thing in the past few years is that the atmosphere has been charged with energies that feelings It should also stir up trends, but don’t.” So perhaps the constant reinterpretation of the past indicates discomfort in the present and a lack of hope in the future.

All this talk of Hell helps us express a loss of control, connection, and direction that we often rely on to help us make sense of our lives. Which is why, historically, the Dark Age could be a time of religious fervor, witch-hunts, and reactionary conservatism. (None: Satanic Panic is actually making a comeback, thanks to QAnon.)

in The new dark ageAnd Technology today obscures and obscures the aforementioned dark forces, explains author and technologist James Bridel: “What was meant to enlighten the world in practice darkens it.” Sure, technology can help us learn more about ourselves and the world around us, but the truth is that it is currently more likely to overwhelm us. However, staying in the dark is no excuse for losing all hope. We just need to look for hope in different places.

I’m partial to this hellish metaphor because it’s funny, irreverent, immature, and, frankly, liberating. (All the memes say there’s more fun in hell.) In a way, it’s a hopeful way of looking at things. The Dark Age can be a turning point or, as Rao puts it, “It’s like being in calm weather that always threatens to turn into a storm but never does.” Being stuck doesn’t have to be a tragedy; It just gives us more time. We tend to move about in the dark with our arms outstretched; Our bodies move slower, and we panic at first, but then our vision adjusts.

So maybe these times and chaos and upheaval will be crucial in moving towards resilience and resilience. My hope for the next year, and the many years after that, is that we stop talking and thinking about technology as if it were a mysterious practice dealing with powerful clouds or mysterious algorithms. It is the cumulative application of human knowledge, and this All our knowledge. If we can make memes and speech, we can certainly dream of a better internet. And hell, with its big, bright flames, might just be the twisted light source we need to see the future we actually want.

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