“This Is Not the Internet”: Joe Budden, Pokemon Go & the Fading Real World
This past weekend some kids, and despite the fact they physically resemble adult human males they were very clearly mental children, decided that it'd be a good idea to roll up on Joe Budden at his house. Undoubtedly they thought they'd capture some sweet video and go viral. It's not exactly the kind of thing that gets you invited onto Ellen, but I'm willing to bet they had visions of chilling poolside with Drake dancing in their heads like sugar plums.
Joe Budden was ready to snuff this kid fksfhsdfjkhsdkfj. pic.twitter.com/8m61bEM2Ao— Persian Papi (@ThatPersianGuy) July 24, 2016
Things did not go as planned, at least initially. While you'd think that as a celebrity Drake wouldn't want to endorse people confronting celebrities in their own homes, we've already seen that Drizzy's a savage when it comes to self-promotion. Drake may still indeed one day invite them onstage during the next OVO Fest, or at least flash some sweet memes on the Jumbo Tron. But in the here and now the world learned a powerful lesson about the potential real life consequences of chasing your viral dreams.
Wait, Joe Really tried to climb into the car? ldlaf;dl;alf;dljakjfdl;ajdaf pic.twitter.com/Zr5zEb4A56— Chris Uño (@CRS_One) July 24, 2016
"This is not the internet. I will kill one of you."
Or did it?
Watching these events unfold I instantly thought of Pokemon Go, a game that's blurred the lines between the real world and the world of the phone more closely than ever. These kids really thought they were about to come up and capture Budden on their phones like he was a rare Ditto. And just like having an angry New Jersey rapper banging on your car with rocks, Pokemon Go has already lead to multiple robberies and near shootings.
Nintendo's only the symptom though, not the disease. Prank videos have made "It's just a prank bro!" a terrified catchphrase as familiar to the younger generation as "Did I do that?" was in my time, and artists of all genres regularly encourage their fans to view themselves as active participants in their music; not "fans" at all but equals, advocates, members of a hive, defenders of the faith.
It's not so much that those raised with the internet fully enmeshed into every aspect of their lives confuse the online world and the real world, that would require a level of true psychosis that very few possess, it's that the rewards of the online world have come to outweigh the rewards of the real world for many.
When Drake fans called the Philly DA begging them to arrest and charge Meek Mill it was because an active part of the story that was blowing up their Twitter timelines felt like it mattered more than the life of an actual person, and as dumb as these kids obviously were, I have to believe they didn't think rolling up on Budden was a perfectly safe plan. They just assumed any conflict would be worth the attention. They'd just "it's a prank bro!" their way out of any situation and it would only matter on the internet for a day or two, if that long. They were right - they emerged unscathed and kicked off a meme. What bigger "real world" reward is there in 2016?
I'm no technology alarmist. Every generation believes it lived in the last glorious time before the world turned for the worse, and it wasn't that long ago my mother was refusing to get cable for my brother and I because TV would assuredly rot our brains. If we had YouTube growing up, we would have been no different. But watch that video again. Listen to the way the kid in the driver's seat apologizes, immediately understands he's made a mistake. And then listen to the kid in the backseat, the one with the phone, the one who absurdly keeps shouting out his Twitter handle even as a man bangs rocks against his window and threatens to kill him.
The kid in the driver's seat gives me hope, the one holding the phone makes me believe the apocalypse is already here. Let's just hope the next generation is willing to live life in the driver's seat, and that while they're driving, they don't have one hand on the wheel and the other scanning for Pokemon...or rappers.
UPDATE: Drake followed the kids who ran up on Joe, which is beyond stupid - you think he'd recognize that encouraging people to run up on celebrities, including himself, is only going to end poorly - but apparently his pettiness knows no bounds.
By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.