notes on Dean Kissick’s "One Path for the Internet"
or: "this is lame, you should delete it for the sake of the universe, and kill who made it"
This is a horrible, disgusting image. I’m sorry for making you see it again. I made the mistake of subscribing to Sean monahan’s substack to see what the boomer trend forecasters were saying (rip khole, you were relevant like multiple extinctions ago) and not only had to see it, but had to hate-read a mind-numbingly horrible take about it. Incredibly fucking stupid, masochistic thing to do on my end, but anyway – Monahan writes: “This post won’t be an explanation of the meme. If you want to know what it means Google the words, look up the accounts, consume the associated content. Instead, I want to point out that the general anxiety the meme has engendered is evidence of a vibe shift”
But the first thing that needs to be addressed is an explanation of the meme, especially that this image doesn’t function as a venn diagram – in actuality, it’s just a mass of cultural signifiers. A generous interpretation would be to rearrange them into three floating spheres that are somewhat better aligned.
Group 1 (“Music/Fashion/Theory” Signifiers): bladee, aphex twin, SOPHIE, Margiela, Raf, Adam Curtis, Deleuze, Early Nick Land, Hyperpop, Techno
Group 2 (“Public Intellectual Vacuum + Surrounding Culture” Signifiers): red scare, new models, mark fisher, CCRU, dean kissick, honor levy, kyle brown, drunken canal, taolincellectuals, tom tuna, master of cum, based/cringe side of internet
Group 3 (“Girl on Internet(??)” Signifiers: chloe sevigny, quirked up shawty, wretched worm, miu miu, amy Winehouse, whisper app, markfisherquotes, 2012 tumblr
Even doing this, it’s clear that even these subgroups don’t really make any sense. What does make sense is that the meme came from Instagram, whose algorithm is awful, and whose interface doesn’t allow for lists, factors which contribute to the rather schizophrenic experience of using the application, where every piece of media you consume loses context and you’re grasping to figure out what the relation between two signifiers are.
The bigger thing happening here is that the boomer trendforecasters are stuck in Web 2.0 – Monahan opens up suggesting you can just “Google the words” but what is googling “Wretched Worm” or “quirked up shawty” going to get you?? A link to worm’s Twitter? Where you can only see his current avi and don’t have the previous posts? And can see that he’s tweeted 18k times but can’t really read what those posts are? It’s the same shit with ‘quirked up shawty’ – the phrase has hit mainstream ubiquity, but how many people are familiar with the etymology, how many know who the original quirked up shawty is? These are things you can’t google because our platforms, especially Twitter, are transient by design and without proper archiving, canonizing, recontextualizing, (See: the mausoleum at Halicarnassus), someone from the outside will never Get It.
“if you can’t read the internet I can’t help you lol”
– if you know how to read the internet, you’ll be able to find the source
Dean Kissick called the above image the “One Path for the Internet”, a phrase (like much of his writing) I’m sure he didn’t put much thought into before taking the image from a lowest iq josh citarella adjacent meme page, but which certainly places a loaded emphasis on the importance of it, which Monahan extrapolates into a marker delineating a “vibe shift” / cultural moment, because of the “anxiety” the image caused. This is where he totally misses the mark because the anxiety doesn’t come from the meme itself but from the sheer inability for people to sufficiently navigate the internet & its fragmented, but still somewhat overlapping, subcultures.
What this meme is an incredibly incredibly shitty map that attempts to represent a labyrinthian digital city where the territory is the map and the map is the territory. And the thing about cities is that if you stay in your neighborhood, you’re never going to know what’s happening in other parts. Almost every millennial is lost at this point because they’re trapped in their neighborhood, and their social milieu was completely unaware of everything else going on. To see all these other places on the map beside you and to struggle with defining the terms of these geographies is frustrating, maddening, and elicits the response everyone saw.
So in a way Dean is right, though certainly not in the way he intended. Sophia Vanderbilt said it best: “…if you get it you get it, if you don’t you don’t, if you know you know, and if you don’t know i honestly feel bad for you, i cannot explain it, like, i don’t have the vocabulary, either you get the vibe or you don't get the vibe”. If you don’t Get It, then the meme is the “One Path” for you, a schizophrenic mess of signifiers you’re unable to completely grasp the meaning of, in a virtual city where you’re constantly missing the train and unable to show up to anything on time. Case in point:
Check the date stamps on the tweets. Dean Kissick, K-HOLE, and everyone other washed millennial who reads them thinking they know what they’re talking about – they’ve all already missed the vibe shift. They didn’t see the angelicisim01 tweets that are now deleted. They don’t know what to make of the clone accounts. They don’t understand that the -cellectuals account isn’t a fan account, it’s post-angelic matter. They don’t know how to read the internet. And they don’t know what’s next.
“if you can’t read the internet i can’t help you lol”