Aaaaargh! Eeeesh! Oooof! Concerned faces! Furrowed brows! Isn’t the internet just awful?! Social media! SOCIAL FUCKING MEDIA! Facebook and Myspace and shit!! They’ve ruined the world! They’ve destroyed a whole generation!! That teenager who you follow on Instagram who keeps posting pictures of her pert young tiddies straining against a tight vest provided by Shein’s new line? Don’t you just hate her?? Her narcissism is destroying society! Havea look at the next photo. Eugh! I’ve never seen such a narcissistic bitch! Scroll down. My God! Look at those tight narcissistic abs and those horrendously self-absorbed nipples visible through that egotistical Pretty Little Things top! Let’s see how bad the next photo is…
The internet’s ruined everything, hasn’t it? Wasn’t Trump elected because of social media, or something? Brexit definitely wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Nigel Farage’s TikTok dances. You know how America has roughly eight mass shootings per day, and a couple of school shootings every week? The internet has to be responsible for a decent percent of those, right? Every ritualistic animal murder – the Hip New Trend for Teens 2022™ – has its own enthusiastic Reddit community.
It can at least be dizzying. The internet has now infused such speed and diffusion into the world that any transitory emotional state you’re feeling is expressed and then exposed widely within seconds. I can say that I have an itchy arsehole and grieve the public setting meaning that I have no safe place to scratch it, and milliseconds later a taxi driver in Kuala Lumpur on his break can be put off his food. That taxi driver’s emotional response itself can be affected and intensified by the speed of communication, and the sense of individual feeling can be destabilised. “Hey, faggot”, he may respond, “Take your cuck ass back to Wokestan #LetsGoBrandon”. Yeah, this Malaysian taxi driver has a pretty good grasp of American English and alt-right memes. At the extremes, such behaviour has been linked to suicidal depression and copycat suicides, which may seem like an exaggerated reaction to my itchy anus, but I’m sorry, this is the world we live in. It has also been linked, from a historical perspective, it’s reminiscent of the psycho-social ‘moral contagions’ of the eighteenth century, which some historians link witch hunts to. Now that was ‘Cancel Culture’. The dreaded internet throws up modern examples of how emotions can infect other people. And those emotions infecting the world are generally anger, jealousy, resentment and loneliness, as being online often promotes braggadocios exhibition that can lead to a lack of self-esteem and self-worth. Don’t you all, deep down, wish that you also had an itchy bum hole?
It might be useful at this point to consider a study launched by the Knights of Colombus Adult Education Committee in 2020 asking if social media made people “more active or lazy” and what effect it was likely to have on “home life and the old practice of visiting friends”. The survey results were pretty damning, with 33% of those surveyed feeling discomfort around social media, and the report warned that its “likely contribution to the malaise of urban depersonalisation should not be underestimated”.
Only that study was actually from 1920, and was a concerned study into the negative effect of the telephone. Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooh yars! #Gotcha #Pulitzer.
So maybe cool down on judging ‘the internet’ as an inevitable cause of social ills, as long as history has been recorded there have been panics about any new form of communication, its uses and abuses, and worry that the precious ‘old ways of doing things’ could be threatened. So many (largely unreported as it rarely fits any narrative) internet and social media users will talk of positive experiences, gaining social support, social influencing and feelings of being cared for and seen. People who experience social anxiety or similar are far less inhibited to connect to people online, and the internet has helped people with mental health issues navigate complex social and family relationships, meaning greater social sharing meaning greater social support. For the first time, it’s possible for many perceived outcast to discover that there actually is a community for them, We should put things like social media in context – needs and affiliations sought online are the same that a person has offline, and people have wanted connections and the feeling of being part of a community for all time. Online communities are reminiscent of what Benedict Anderson referred to as an ‘imagined community’ (actually talking about – eek! – nationalism)- where geographical and social differences are unimportant as long as there are shared values, senses of identity and shared meaning. Lay off the internet for a second, yeah?
I’m not sure where Magdalena Bay fit into all this. They are insanely online, a whirlwind of bizarre TikToks, memes, online video games and an overwhelmingly chaotic website that is as horrendous a cackhanded GeoCities attempt at a site that you’d maybe have built yourself in 1998. And by ‘yourself’ I mean ‘myself’. Seriously, I wish I could remember and link to the GeoCities or Lycos or Angelfire or whatever free 90s website host the website I made while I was in secondary school was on. It was traumatic to look at. I once asked people on an NME forum (where I spent the most part of my internet time when I wasn’t just watching porn) if they had any ideas of what pictures to post on it. Some person just sent a gif of Marge Simpson sucking Homer’s wang, and I posted it! I then approached companies for sponsorship (seriously, the 90s were a weird time), but was rejected because of the pornographic content. I didn’t delete the Simpsons Hentai and ask again, I just shrugged my shoulders and accepted that Internet 1.0 wasn’t for me. That’s why I’m not a Dot Com billionaire right now. That’s the difference between me and Mark Zuckerberg, he removed the gif of SpongeBob railing Sandy from behind and went back to the advertisers. Magdalena Bay haven’t just built a strong online community, they’ve turned allegiance to their band into something close to a cult
So there’s a lot of style associated with Magdalena Bay, but is there substance? Honestly, usually I don’t actually care that much. Enough style can quite easily just be the substance, at least in the short term. You can learn substace, right? That’ll eventually come. But if you have a distinctive style, then you’re at least defined as something special, you have that undefinable ‘it’. You don’t know what ‘it’ is, but you’d recognise it when you scroll to it on your content feed. Well, there’s a shitload of substance on ‘Mercurial World’ as well. A brilliantly accomplished collection of countless influences, which might not yet quite exhibit a distinctive style all of Magdalena Bay’s own, but it’s an astonishing flashmob of a record while we wait for ther realisation. Jesus Christ, Alex, ‘flashmob‘?? What is this, 2003?? Magdalena Bay would laugh in your fat old face! Also, I’m sorry for my internet-debilitated attention span, but forty six minutes is just too fucking long for a record like this, and it does sag noticeably in places. This is clearly social media’s fault. Or something. Yeah, struggled for a way to finish this entry…
(thanks to Fay Bound Alberti and her Biography of Loneliness, which this post was must influenced by/stolen from.)