A long article I just wrote about the bizarre, hallucinatory, sickening, purgatory, Bardo-like experience of browsing 4chan has just been published on R. U. Sirius’s h+ Magazine blog. Check it out!
In the last decade, we’ve seen the increasing acceleration of information (a la Terence McKenna and Moore’s law) heralded as the key to new business development, though it has, in fact, so ruined our attention spans that it is almost impossible for modern man to get any kind of productive work done. We’re too lost in the datastream, too focused on taking in new information to complete a task that takes more than a few minutes, at best. I think a direct correlation can be made, for instance, between the rise of social media and the fall of the economy. The kaleidoscope of the Internet is more endless, more distracting and more mutating than even the most potent psychedelic drugs could have ever prepared us for. And 4chan is the ultimate, final trip.
If the mainstream Internet-using world has driven itself to distraction and insanity with social networking, the denizens of the Chans have upped the ante past all conceivable boundaries, like switching from a light alcohol problem to crushing and injecting Oxycontin. This is the place where all senses are deadened, where the mind cannot function because it is trapped in its own overstimulation. This, I am sure, is where media theorists from Marshall McLuhan to Neil Postman to Douglas Rushkoff assured us that the inherently liberating force of information technology was leading us. And though I am sure they knew that the filth and fury would follow, I’m not sure they ever expected it to look quite like… this.
My own 4chan addiction crept up slowly. Once a casual user of gateway drugs like icanhascheezburger.com, ytmnd.com and Encyclopedia Dramatica, I followed a link to the black hole itself one day and—sucked past its event horizon—have since been unable to escape. Stuck there now, I am clicking back and forth from this article to peruse the halls of 4chan’s /x/ forum, afraid that I might have missed the latest spew from the Internet’s collective maw. It is the car crash that cannot be looked away from. Ever.
(h+: Lost in the Filth Simulacrum)