What Kanye West Can Teach Us About Internet Culture

Jaeana Sabally-Pryor

Kanye West (now known as “Ye”), famed songwriter and performer, has come under fire recently for his behavior on social media following his divorce with Kim Kardashian. According to Cosmopolitan, on Feb. 19 of last year, Kim Kardashian officially filed for divorce from Ye, requesting joint legal and physical custody of all four children. Between then and now, West and Kardashian have both been in public relationships, however, Ye seems to be taking Kim’s newfound freedom especially hard. 

In October, Kardashian was rumored to be dating comedian Pete Davidson following her hosting “Saturday Night Live,” and by December, she filed to be declared “legally single,” as Ye had not responded to her request to end their marriage in a timely manner. 

In December, West bought a $4.5 million home across the street from the mansion Kardashian currently resides in. By January, Ye began to publicly harass, manipulate, and defame Kardashian across his Instagram account; On several now-deleted posts he questioned her parenting choices and threatened to physically assault Pete Davidson. In February, the situation between the two seemed to reach a climax with the release of Ye’s music video for “Easy,” in which he acts out kidnapping, decapitating, and burying alive a figure thought to represent Pete Davidson. With the growing media coverage of the situation between Kim and Ye, along with the addition of “internet culture” and social media, it is important to explore how online spaces are commenting on this situation.

Online spaces like Twitter and Tik Tok have been overrun with think pieces and jokes about both West and Kardashian’s role in the whole situation, as well as analyses of Ye’s general behavior. On one hand, many people have rallied behind Kardashian in support of her and her decision to divorce Ye. However, for every one of those people in support of Kardashian, there was another person projecting their love of Ye and everlasting support of him. There seems to be an overarching idea that simply because Kardashian is wealthy, she deserves such harassment or that it shouldn’t be such a big deal. This idea is extremely harmful to women and makes it harder for people to come forward when it comes to abuse from men. 

On the other end of the spectrum, there are people using this as an opportunity to call Ye racial slurs and make light of his bipolar disorder diagnosis. Both responses are extremely damaging and have the power to impact more than just Kim and Ye. When social media pushes certain attitudes or opinions on abuse victims, mentally ill people, or other groups, it causes the general social perception to change. With such change it becomes increasingly difficult for those affected groups to reach out and receive the help they may need. This situation also shows how “internet culture” tends to work in extremes. This extremism often leads to misinformation being spread, as well as a misconstruction of very complex situations. Overall, “internet culture” has caused this overarching feeling of self-righteousness, with everyone wanting to have input on every situation. Left unchecked, this attitude will continue to damage people’s reputations, spread misinformation, and impact how real-life situations are treated.