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I Hate the Internet

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What if you told the truth and the whole world heard you? What if you lived in a country swamped with Internet outrage? What if you were a woman in a society that hated women? Set in the San Francisco of 2013, I Hate the Internet offers a hilarious and obscene portrayal of life amongst the victims of the digital boom. As billions of tweets fuel the city’s gentrification and What if you told the truth and the whole world heard you? What if you lived in a country swamped with Internet outrage? What if you were a woman in a society that hated women? Set in the San Francisco of 2013, I Hate the Internet offers a hilarious and obscene portrayal of life amongst the victims of the digital boom. As billions of tweets fuel the city’s gentrification and the human wreckage piles up, a group of friends suffers the consequences of being useless in a new world that despises the pointless and unprofitable. In this, his first full-length novel, Jarett Kobek tackles the pressing questions of our moment. Why do we applaud the enrichment of CEOs at the expense of the weak and the powerless? Why are we giving away our intellectual property? Why is activism in the 21st Century nothing more than a series of morality lectures typed into devices built by slaves? Here, at last, comes an explanation of the Internet in the crudest possible terms.


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What if you told the truth and the whole world heard you? What if you lived in a country swamped with Internet outrage? What if you were a woman in a society that hated women? Set in the San Francisco of 2013, I Hate the Internet offers a hilarious and obscene portrayal of life amongst the victims of the digital boom. As billions of tweets fuel the city’s gentrification and What if you told the truth and the whole world heard you? What if you lived in a country swamped with Internet outrage? What if you were a woman in a society that hated women? Set in the San Francisco of 2013, I Hate the Internet offers a hilarious and obscene portrayal of life amongst the victims of the digital boom. As billions of tweets fuel the city’s gentrification and the human wreckage piles up, a group of friends suffers the consequences of being useless in a new world that despises the pointless and unprofitable. In this, his first full-length novel, Jarett Kobek tackles the pressing questions of our moment. Why do we applaud the enrichment of CEOs at the expense of the weak and the powerless? Why are we giving away our intellectual property? Why is activism in the 21st Century nothing more than a series of morality lectures typed into devices built by slaves? Here, at last, comes an explanation of the Internet in the crudest possible terms.

30 review for I Hate the Internet

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    If Kurt Vonnegut and Michel Houellebecq had a kid and that kid was raised in the bay area circa 2012, they would have produced something like this. Here, at last, is the full frontal, humanistic assault on our digitized age which older, more venerable writers are simply too tired, or too out of touch to make. By reminding us of a simple fact, namely, of who really controls and makes money off of the internet, Kobek clears out years of bullshit, techno-utopian thinking. Online activism, tumblr soc If Kurt Vonnegut and Michel Houellebecq had a kid and that kid was raised in the bay area circa 2012, they would have produced something like this. Here, at last, is the full frontal, humanistic assault on our digitized age which older, more venerable writers are simply too tired, or too out of touch to make. By reminding us of a simple fact, namely, of who really controls and makes money off of the internet, Kobek clears out years of bullshit, techno-utopian thinking. Online activism, tumblr social justice posts, facebook stalking, comment section cesspools, flame wars, trolling...it's all just fodder for generating ad revenues to enrich billionaires. We all know and cognitively dance around this fact on some level, but Kobek's book, written in a flat, almost autistic style just hammers on it over and over again. But like the best misanthropic writers, his scope is ultimately cosmic, and his spleen reaches outward to touch on issues of race, gender, gentrification, Ayn rand, shitty science fiction... really, everything that's crappy and unfair about modern life. It's appropriate that the whole thing ends with a messy, ginsburg-via-howl rant in which a thinly veiled version of the author literally screams at San Fransisco, even if that rant is a bit hamfisted and sloppy (which might be the point) This is an acerbically angry novel, and the characters and plot, such as they exist, are wielded to prove a very specific point and not to develop and flourish organically. As such, the appeal of "I hate the Internet" is, alas, limited. But in his willingness to go straight for the jugular of both our popular techno-culture and the people who built and reap billions off of it (Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, Larry Page and Sergey Brin get a hefty dose of rhetorical acid thrown on them), Kobek offers a scathing indictment of vast swathes of our always online, day-to-day existence. I say this without a trace of snark, or irony or sarcasm, but this book could prove to be the definitive literary statement of our current moment. If you are a young person in America under roughly the age of 35, it will resonate in frightening, powerful ways. I can't recommend this highly enough.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Bradford

    20% of this book is profound in a way that genuinely inspires 10% is profound in a way that baits pseudo-intellectuals by giving them something they can righteously echo. 20% is your activist college roommate who makes a lot of sense until you realize he's no fun 5% is straight-up GTFO 5% is despair that not enough people will read this because no one reads anymore :( 10% makes you feel bad for existing right now 20% is really, really funny 10% is enraging It's far from a perfect book, but I'd recomm 20% of this book is profound in a way that genuinely inspires 10% is profound in a way that baits pseudo-intellectuals by giving them something they can righteously echo. 20% is your activist college roommate who makes a lot of sense until you realize he's no fun 5% is straight-up GTFO 5% is despair that not enough people will read this because no one reads anymore :( 10% makes you feel bad for existing right now 20% is really, really funny 10% is enraging It's far from a perfect book, but I'd recommend it to everyone. Plus, the writing style is very compulsory—pretty much written in bullet points with Tristram Shandy-like digressions.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David Katzman

    Wow. Now this is something. I Hate the Internet is a punch in the face that also made me laugh hysterically. Kobek’s book is didactic, experimental, accessible, and uncompromising. It names names and kicks ass. It’s vibrant and energizing. I call it a must-read. Although it’s a very different book, I Hate the Internet reminds me in some ways of my intentions behind my first novel Death by Zamboni . In writing DbyZ, I wanted to break every rule of writing a proper novel that I could and did so Wow. Now this is something. I Hate the Internet is a punch in the face that also made me laugh hysterically. Kobek’s book is didactic, experimental, accessible, and uncompromising. It names names and kicks ass. It’s vibrant and energizing. I call it a must-read. Although it’s a very different book, I Hate the Internet reminds me in some ways of my intentions behind my first novel Death by Zamboni . In writing DbyZ, I wanted to break every rule of writing a proper novel that I could and did so mostly for the fun of it. For the frisson of breaking conventions. It was a fuck you to fiction writing as well as poking direct fun at sitcoms and advertising. I believe Kobek has a different motivation for his didactic in-your-face style that he calls out during the story: that the CIA funded the growth of literary fiction in the 60s. Here’s an article about that in Vice magazine, interviewing the author of the book How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers . Shocking indeed! While this might be the inspiration for Kobek’s style, the content of the story is primarily an evisceration of the web elite, the big four (Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter), and the internet that allows them to thrive. With incisive wit and brutal takedowns, Kobek demonstrates how corrupt and poisonous these corporate entities are for society within the context of a lightly plotted story set in San Francisco of a successful graphic novelist, her friends, and her relationships. I really can’t praise this enough. I wish everyone would read it. I dare you. You’ll at least get a good chuckle out of it and perhaps a little bit of inspired rage at the machine. There is plenty of traditional fiction out there teaching empathy through believable characters in the standard literary approach. Blah-blah-blah. We need more books that just say fuck it, none of that has saved us from global warming, political fascism or dehumanizing Capitalism so let’s just do something different—because why not. Bravo.

  4. 5 out of 5

    W.D. Clarke

    If you are a Kurt Vonnegut fan, you'll know what I mean when I say that while I enjoyed Sirens of Titan, I wished I had read it before I read Cat's Cradle, as the former seemed to be the work of the journeyman, while with the latter the Man, the Master, has arrived. So it is for me with this book (2016, and my second Kobek) and Only Americans Burn in Hell (2019). This was a rollicking good read, and one that makes you think a helluva lot. But the new one was just that much tighter, riskier, more If you are a Kurt Vonnegut fan, you'll know what I mean when I say that while I enjoyed Sirens of Titan, I wished I had read it before I read Cat's Cradle, as the former seemed to be the work of the journeyman, while with the latter the Man, the Master, has arrived. So it is for me with this book (2016, and my second Kobek) and Only Americans Burn in Hell (2019). This was a rollicking good read, and one that makes you think a helluva lot. But the new one was just that much tighter, riskier, more fully imagined. But hey, Sirens is still Vonnegut, and one day we will be saying I Hate... is still Kobek! What does Kobek hate? Well, the title seems to give it all away, doesn't it, but it is not the internet per se that he hates (though he hates that too, developed as it was out of DARPA military research and the supposed massive evils of "packet switching", i.e. TCP protocol but why that is evil or how it works is beyond me). It's more capitalism that's the bad guy here. And us, we're bad, no doubt about it, cos we not only live under capitalism, we live in it, swim in it, bathe in it, inhale all of it as if it were the most natural thing in the world, too, like breathing. But all this while, all this living, breathing, swimming, bathing, we've still got our phones in our hands, and we use them to "connect", i.e. shout at each other, preen at each other, signal all our virtuous virtues in semaphore across the globe at each other...you know how it all works. (It feels like an old story already doesn't it?) But here's how Kobek sees how it all works—like in the comics: Despite never appearing as a character within its pages, Jack Kirby is the central personage of this novel. He died in 1994. He was born in 1917. Jack Kirby is the central personage of this novel because he was the individual most screwed by the American comic-book industry, and the American comic-book industry is the perfect distillation of all the corrupt and venal behavior inherent in unregulated capitalism. The business practices of the American comic-book industry have colonized Twenty-First Century life. They are the tune to which we all dance. The Internet, and the multinational conglomerates which rule it, have reduced everyone to the worst possible fate. We have become nothing more than comic-book artists, churning out content for enormous monoliths that refuse to pay us the value of our work. So we might as well revere the man who was screwed first and screwed hardest. Comic books, while great for hooking kids into reading, provide a terrible universe for supposed adults to live in. And their history teaches us what our futures will be like if the gig economy becomes the economy tout court, which it seems well on its way to becoming as the ponzi scheme known as Wall Street takes all that hard-earned Quantitative Easing payola and inflates asset and real estate bubbles globally, making it impossible to rent let alone buy accommodation anywhere--Heck, Donald Trump can't even buy Greenland for Chrissakes. I digress... (the novel does, so why can't I? It's a free world, isn't it?) Anyhow, Kobek also hates the novel--or the good novel to be precise. Why would he do a mean thing like that? I mean, like, you know, what has the novel, what has the goodnovel ever done to him? Well, I'll tell ya. Or he will. At some length. Cos that's just how it has to be in this review, at 2:13 in the morning. In the country that produced The Arcade Fire. Who supposedly suck for some reason. And who exist primarily to give us old people a sense that we have our fingers on the pulse of the wrists or jugulars of the Millenials or something. Well, here's why he hates the novel, but hidden as if it were a spoiler or something: (view spoiler)[…this is not a good novel . This is a seriously mixed-up book with a central personage who never appears. The plot, like life, resolves into nothing and features emotional suffering without meaning. The writer of this novel gave up trying to write good novels when he realized that the good novel , as an idea, was created by the Central Intelligence Agency. This is not a joke. This is true. This is church. The CIA funded the Paris Review . The CIA funded the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. The CIA engineered the 1958 Nobel Prize in Literature. A person would be hard pressed to find three other institutions with more influence over the development of the good novel and literary fiction. Literary fiction was a term used by the upper classes to suggest books which paired pointless sex with ruminations on the nature of mortgages were of greater merit than books which paired pointless sex with guns and violence. The CIA funded literary fiction because people at the CIA believed that American literature was excellent propaganda and would help fight the Russians. People at the CIA believed that literary fiction would celebrate the delights of a middle-class existence produced by American dynamism. The people who took the CIA’s money were happy to help out. The result was sixty years of good novels about the upper middle class and their sexual affairs. Generally speaking, these good novels didn’t involve characters with much eumelanin in the basale strata of their epidermises. A SIDE EFFECT of the CIA’s funding of the good novel was to ensure that American literature was hopeless at addressing the pace of technological innovation. This is because the defining quality of any good novel was the limit of its author’s imagination. And the authors of good novels were terminal bores. The writers of literary fiction were the people who’d come to your party and pass out in your bathtub and then spend years dining out on the tale. For more than half of a century, American writers of good novels had missed the only important story in American life. They had missed the evolving world, the world of hidden persuaders, of the developing communications landscape, of mass tourism, of the vast conformist suburbs dominated by television. And so too had they missed the full import of the last fifteen years. The symbolism sustaining the aesthetic and intellectual pursuits of the Twentieth Century was now meaningless. It was empty air. It was gone, vacant, missing, collapsed beneath the weight of two towers. So much of the dialogue around literature and writing had become about the embrace of human rights , but a massive shift had happened and no one ever mentioned it. For thousands of years, people had written with a wide variety of materials. Some used pens. Some used pencils. Some used typewriters. Some used papyrus. Some used foolscap. Now writers used computers, which were the byproducts of global capitalism’s uncanny ability to turn the surplus population into perpetual servants. All of the world’s computers were built by slaves in China. The business of American literature had become the business of exploiting slave labor. An example of this is the book that you are reading. This bad novel, which is a morality lesson about the Internet, was written on a computer. You are suffering the moral outrage of a hypocritical writer who has profited from the spoils of slavery. (hide spoiler)] Now, couple things: 1) if you peaked at that spoiler, you saw a whole lot of repetition and hyperbole, the Kobek Inquisition's chief weapons here. Irritating in small doses maybe (and yes that's a small dose, just like 20 ounces is a small Gulp not a big one at 7-11), but believe me it grows on you. The seemingly scattershot argument fills in. 2) If you peaked at that spoiler, you heard a WHOLE lot of mansplaining. Kobek admits that up front (but what can a poor boy do?), but he's got to take on the patriarchy somehow! And he does. And structural racism. And modern slavery in all its forms. 3) (Hey, 3 is more than a couple!) If you didn't peak at that spoiler shame on you! How else you gonna get the feels for Kobek here? Not from me—hardly! But good for you! You didn't peak cos you're not the kind of person to be on the interwebs at 2:32 in the morning. So you're not part of the problem. So you don't have to read this book. Read a different book. 4) Read Villete by one o' them Bronte chicks. Not that I have (can't you tell?). But Kobek has, I think. He writes about it anyway, and I am going to quote it here even if it is making only Jeff Bezos money and no one else. And I am not going to hide it under a spoiler cos it applies to that weird subset of you who don't read spoilers but who still read weird reviews like this one. Here goes. “Down with your literary people, San Francisco! Down with all literary people! Book people are the only people who had the natural resources to resist the Internet’s misery! Book people are the only people who have a half-way interesting argument to make against the Internet! Instead, book people rolled over like dogs at the kitchen table! The very first time that they saw a website! Begging their master for a scratch of the stomach! Publishing evolves and consolidates and rots from the inside but no technology can ever overwhelm Charlotte Brontë! Nothing can deal with Villette! Nothing ever changes, the world is the same as it was in 79AD! The empire never ended! The only defense is William MAKEPEACE Thackeray and Gloria Naylor!" There may well be no escape from the infantilizing contradictions of late late capitalism. But there is Charlotte Bronte. There is Kurt Vonnegut. (view spoiler)[(add your own affirmation below, s.v.p) (hide spoiler)] . And now there is Jarret Kobek. Yes. And he's still got his Slaughterhouse Five and his Breakfast of Champions ahead of him. He's on the up-swing. But he's arrived. Read him.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Meike

    This novel does make you feel like you're surfing from one hyperlink to the next, or like pacman eating away liberal ruminations on a gigantic discussion board - but does this make for a good book? Let’s talk about the story: There is none. Well, there are some recurring characters, but it’s not like this book is about them, they just serve the purpose to string together random internet- and silicon valley-related anecdotes, facts, and opinions. Some of them are new and interesting, most of them This novel does make you feel like you're surfing from one hyperlink to the next, or like pacman eating away liberal ruminations on a gigantic discussion board - but does this make for a good book? Let’s talk about the story: There is none. Well, there are some recurring characters, but it’s not like this book is about them, they just serve the purpose to string together random internet- and silicon valley-related anecdotes, facts, and opinions. Some of them are new and interesting, most of them are ramblings against the hype around technological devices built by underpaid laborers in the third world and marketed as quasi-religious artifacts, against gentrification, tech companies that are run like cults, social media as platforms enabling hate speech and bullying - you get the idea. It’s not that Kobek is wrong, and sometimes he is even very funny, it’s just that most of the novel is incredibly boring because the author is stating the obvious. The text is the printed version of an internet rant, and while the formal concept works surprisingly well, it still gets tedious. Nevertheless, everyone hating on the high priestess of assholery, Ayn Rand, gets extra points from me: "Her endless novel Atlas Shrugged was about 800 pages long. The book was about money is awesome and rich people are awesome and everything is awesome except for poor people who are garbage who should die in the gutter." Pretty nice explanation for what objectivism actually means.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katrin

    I seriously could not finish this. This book has so many raving reviews. So, maybe I did not get the irony, but not only did I find it pretty unreadable but also quite pretentious.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    I was complaining to a colleague last week that I hadn't yet read a novel that explains our fundamental situation as a society at this juncture in history. Then I read I Hate the Internet, and I have to conclude that this is an important book. Nay, an Important Book. Read it. Urgently. What if you took Vonnegut's weirdo autistic-anthropologist writing style like he evinced in Breakfast of Champions, and applied that to contemporary San Francisco? No one gets out of this looking good. Tech companie I was complaining to a colleague last week that I hadn't yet read a novel that explains our fundamental situation as a society at this juncture in history. Then I read I Hate the Internet, and I have to conclude that this is an important book. Nay, an Important Book. Read it. Urgently. What if you took Vonnegut's weirdo autistic-anthropologist writing style like he evinced in Breakfast of Champions, and applied that to contemporary San Francisco? No one gets out of this looking good. Tech companies and their employees are obviously enemy number one, but so is virtually every other middle-class quasi-bohemian. Hell, even Arcade Fire and David Foster Wallace get shit on. In fact, I'm currently working on a novella-length project, and I had to go back and delete a couple of sections because they covered territory that Jarrett Kobek covered better, and I simply have to defer to him on these matters. Because he wrote the Important Book. Have I convinced you yet? Fuck you, go read it. If you don't like it, fuck you too.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    I do hate the internet and I also kind of hated this book. I like my satire razor sharp and clever and with this book I felt like Kobek was hitting me over the head with the satire stick. I found his approach exhausting and repetitive. It's possible I'm just too old for this (I don't have Twitter or Snapchat) and I'm sure millenials will eat it up. What was so frustrating was in amongst all the exhausting hardwork attempts at biting satire there were moments of complete genius. But you have to s I do hate the internet and I also kind of hated this book. I like my satire razor sharp and clever and with this book I felt like Kobek was hitting me over the head with the satire stick. I found his approach exhausting and repetitive. It's possible I'm just too old for this (I don't have Twitter or Snapchat) and I'm sure millenials will eat it up. What was so frustrating was in amongst all the exhausting hardwork attempts at biting satire there were moments of complete genius. But you have to survive the tedium to get to them.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tosh

    San Francisco has always been an odd city to me. There are many wonderful things about it, but then the technology internet companies moved in, and sort of changed the landscape from the literary beats with great bars to Google world. Yet the city houses one of the great bookstores in the world, the iconic (rightfully so) City Lights, but alas, the literary tradition does continue on, which is Jarett Kobek's novel "I Hate The Internet." Yet, the novel doesn't prowl through the streets of Dashell San Francisco has always been an odd city to me. There are many wonderful things about it, but then the technology internet companies moved in, and sort of changed the landscape from the literary beats with great bars to Google world. Yet the city houses one of the great bookstores in the world, the iconic (rightfully so) City Lights, but alas, the literary tradition does continue on, which is Jarett Kobek's novel "I Hate The Internet." Yet, the novel doesn't prowl through the streets of Dashell Hammett or Jack Spicer, but the sorry state of Google, Facebook, which is now tattooed on the image of San Francisco. On the other hand, it can be any city in America that embraces a technology that brings riches to a few, yet can leave a greater population empty - as in desire and promises not full-filled. I read very little of contemporary novels, but I have to say Kobek's book is really rooted into the "now." I have never read a book that is so now, and not only that, it is a great novel. It is my ideal of fiction writing in which it is about ideas, culture and politics. I imagine if Guy Debord wrote fiction it would be like "I Hate The Internet." Kobek pretty much describes the dangers of the computer world, and what it promises to be, as in opening up new worlds for the consumer/visitor, but more likely the sole purpose is to either collect your personal information, or sell you something. It's capitalism, but taken on to another tech level. There are characters, that are both real and fictional, or fictional real, but what is interesting to me is when Kobek breaks down the ills which are the American world, that is basically defined by Google and other sites. Without a doubt, the Internet is quite useful, but there is also a price that goes with it, and in many ways, it is sort of the death of a culture that was once much loved. Or, at least those who lived a long time, or have a memory of a life before the Net. Excellent commentary on the American 21st century.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeroen

    Pretty fantastic. This is the first book I've read which genuinely succeeds in a complete critique of the Internet and its effect on its denizens. It succeeds, probably, because it employs its language. Its currency is a tweet-sized cleverness, paragraphs whittled down to declarative one-liners which return all the time, as if the author is merely retweeting himself. Within the book Kobek has already captured the inevitable backlash it will receive, and when he describes his own work as a "bad no Pretty fantastic. This is the first book I've read which genuinely succeeds in a complete critique of the Internet and its effect on its denizens. It succeeds, probably, because it employs its language. Its currency is a tweet-sized cleverness, paragraphs whittled down to declarative one-liners which return all the time, as if the author is merely retweeting himself. Within the book Kobek has already captured the inevitable backlash it will receive, and when he describes his own work as a "bad novel", he is not just being facetious. This is not ultimately a bad novel because it lacks plot or character development, or because it is not about the "sex life and mortgages of middle-class people", but rather because it fails to float above the life it describes. It harbours an almost Debordian sense of being co-opted even before being published, of being injected right into the heart of the spectacle. This book, as Kobek notes somewhere, is - like any other book these days - written and edited on a computer put together by slaves in China; therefore, its sense of moral outrage is hypocritical. Everything is hypocritical. All moral outrage on the Web is meaningless; the only meaning, the only net change it brokers, is indeed to put more money in the bank accounts of the new Billionaires of Silicon Valley. For all its wit, this book will change nothing. Moral outrage will change nothing. Revolutions will change nothing. Nothing will change nothing. Except, of course, the iPhone, which changed everything.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    Narrated in a wry, staccato, explanatory style, I Hate the Internet is a sort of non-novel – it has the bones of a plot, and features fictional characters (but many more real people), and things happen, but what it really is is an enraged (and knowingly hypocritical) cri de coeur against capitalism, sexism, racism, materialism, gentrification, literary fiction, San Francisco, Ayn Rand, the US government, and, yes, the internet. The internet is, variously, 'an excellent way to distribute child po Narrated in a wry, staccato, explanatory style, I Hate the Internet is a sort of non-novel – it has the bones of a plot, and features fictional characters (but many more real people), and things happen, but what it really is is an enraged (and knowingly hypocritical) cri de coeur against capitalism, sexism, racism, materialism, gentrification, literary fiction, San Francisco, Ayn Rand, the US government, and, yes, the internet. The internet is, variously, 'an excellent way to distribute child pornography, stolen autopsy reports and pirated copies of 1970s Euro Horror', 'a wonderful resource for sexism, abusing the mentally ill, and libelling the dead', and, more succinctly, 'bad ideology created by thoughtless men' – all lines typical of the deadpan voice Kobek uses as a vessel for his enmity. It's kind of funny, but more sad than it is funny, and more angry than it is sad. It's an excoriating howl into the void that invites us to scream along with it. TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

  12. 4 out of 5

    David M

    San Francisco, you are the worst place on earth! You have taken the dream of a bohemian enclave for misfits and morons and you have transformed it into a Disneyland for the noveau riche.* Found this book rather grating and unfunny at first, but it started to grow on me around the halfway mark. Ended up finding the plot - if it can be called that - ingenious; a middle-aged woman starts using Twitter and doesn't know what hit her, all while watching her friends leave San Francisco in search of chea San Francisco, you are the worst place on earth! You have taken the dream of a bohemian enclave for misfits and morons and you have transformed it into a Disneyland for the noveau riche.* Found this book rather grating and unfunny at first, but it started to grow on me around the halfway mark. Ended up finding the plot - if it can be called that - ingenious; a middle-aged woman starts using Twitter and doesn't know what hit her, all while watching her friends leave San Francisco in search of cheaper rent elsewhere. Superb denouement. Still, the social commentary did feel a bit forced at times. Kobek's approach to social media is horribly un-dialectical. Of course the Arab Spring wasn't about Facebook or Twitter. Nonetheless, for better and for worse, social media has been an indispensable tool for all notable social movements of the last decade. As far as I can tell, there's not much point in either lamenting or celebrating this fact. Better just to get on with it. What if, sometimes, the medium actually isn't the message? ... San Francisco in the second decade of the 21st century is a subject of more than passing interest to me. I moved here in the fall of 2010. This city has been the most significant significant other of my life. Hard to know exactly what to say about it, but often I can't help but feel that other people are describing it wrong. When I first came here, people still took taxi cabs. Now bike lanes have turned into de facto Uber pickup and drop-off zones. I guess I arrived maybe a year or two before the gig economy really took off. Otherwise, it's very hard to judge subjective versus objective changes. Is what it is. I have nothing to be nostalgic for. Is I Hate the Internet a nostalgic book? Not really. Kobek is a bit too cynical for that. He doesn't contrast the cruelty and absurdity of the city right now with the supposed glory of a bohemian past. Probably for the best. I'm left wondering if cities were ever really all that great. __ *Honestly kind of ahistoric for Kobek to suggest there's anything new about San Francisco being a Disneyland for the noveau riche. What does he think Golden Gate Park was in the 1870s?

  13. 5 out of 5

    Zachary Romano jr.

    This book is more a screed than a novel, and wow, what a mixed bag. Jarret Kobek uses a variety of characters as mouthpieces for his opinions on how the Internet is the culmination of a long tradition of content creators being screwed out of the fruits of their labor and how internet-driven discourse is not only totally FUBAR but is an amplifier of the FUBARred-ness of our already FUBAR society. Kobek's arguments and observations are occasionally insightful if not particularly well-developed (e. This book is more a screed than a novel, and wow, what a mixed bag. Jarret Kobek uses a variety of characters as mouthpieces for his opinions on how the Internet is the culmination of a long tradition of content creators being screwed out of the fruits of their labor and how internet-driven discourse is not only totally FUBAR but is an amplifier of the FUBARred-ness of our already FUBAR society. Kobek's arguments and observations are occasionally insightful if not particularly well-developed (e.g the only guaranteed result of protest or movement on social media is more ad dollars for Google) but usually run reductive or seize upon eye-rollingly "I am very smart" low-hanging fruit (e.g. Sports do not offer real meaning). When he shuts up for a minute and actually lets his characters (pre-tech boom San Francisco quirky intelligentsia types) interact, we get some genuinely hysterical and often sweet moments. More than anything from the book's heavy-handed didactic bulk, what stayed with me after reading this was its illustration of the sanity to be found like-minded friends and fellow travelers in navigating a world that often seems to be bullshit. Too bad that the vast majority of what's here is satisfied to just complain about it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Holy shit. I love this book so god damn much . Finally someone has said everything I've been thinking for the last three years living in San Francisco and they've done it with such style and such wit I can't even believe it. It's hard to describe what this book is. Maybe sort of kind of a whirling vortex-like omniscient rant/narration of the year 2013 that consumes everything it touches and converts it via hate and intelligence into the darkest purest critique and comedy of late capital millenni Holy shit. I love this book so god damn much . Finally someone has said everything I've been thinking for the last three years living in San Francisco and they've done it with such style and such wit I can't even believe it. It's hard to describe what this book is. Maybe sort of kind of a whirling vortex-like omniscient rant/narration of the year 2013 that consumes everything it touches and converts it via hate and intelligence into the darkest purest critique and comedy of late capital millennial America I've ever witnessed? Nothing is left. No light escapes the black hole. Please god read it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ms_prue

    Best book of existentialism I have ever read. Now I just have to work through the despair and figure out how to get on with the rest of my life.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Max Urai

    After reading a lot of what Kobek mockingly calls "good fiction", this book felt like a splash of cold water in the face. Kobek has about zero interest in what are normally considered the hallmarks of good books, like lyrical descriptions of houses and parks or meditations on history. His book is deliberately simple in style, with lots of repetitions and explanations about just how Fucked the modern world really is, with people everywhere going lonely and destroying each other over social media After reading a lot of what Kobek mockingly calls "good fiction", this book felt like a splash of cold water in the face. Kobek has about zero interest in what are normally considered the hallmarks of good books, like lyrical descriptions of houses and parks or meditations on history. His book is deliberately simple in style, with lots of repetitions and explanations about just how Fucked the modern world really is, with people everywhere going lonely and destroying each other over social media platforms that really only serve to make a few people very very rich. Kobek blasts through all TED-talk blah about how technology will change everything with a moral outrage that is rare if not just absent in basically all fiction these days. With everything he describes, he just keeps insisting that it's fucked. Not through literary irony or complex metaphors that always feel just out of grasp, but with a bluntness and a simplicity that I really welcomed. This is the novel about the internet that I've been waiting for.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Unsure, So does wanting to read this book make me a -a Hipster? -a Anti-Hipster? -a Closet-Hipster? -a Hipster Wannabe? -Just some confused Middle Aged Guy? * Feel free to offer your opinion -------------------------------------------------------------------- Looking forward to this book. It seems strange to link to these Internet Book Reviews http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/17/boo... http://www.salon.com/2016/02/11/hatin... http://www.compulsivereader.com/2016/... http://www.sfgate.com/books/article/I... Unsure, So does wanting to read this book make me a -a Hipster? -a Anti-Hipster? -a Closet-Hipster? -a Hipster Wannabe? -Just some confused Middle Aged Guy? * Feel free to offer your opinion -------------------------------------------------------------------- Looking forward to this book. It seems strange to link to these Internet Book Reviews http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/17/boo... http://www.salon.com/2016/02/11/hatin... http://www.compulsivereader.com/2016/... http://www.sfgate.com/books/article/I...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dutton

    Like an average five year Twitter account--mostly drivel, but every once in a while there are some perfect one-liners about San Francisco. It reads like a watered-down mashup of R. F. Laird's The Boomer Bible and Kurt Vonnegut at his most repetitive. That being said, the book's constant refrain of Twitter/Google/Facebook/Apple making money off of us making idiots of ourselves as we search for idiocy, stream idiocy, and bask in that narcissistic idiocy is dead on. But we didn't need a novel to sa Like an average five year Twitter account--mostly drivel, but every once in a while there are some perfect one-liners about San Francisco. It reads like a watered-down mashup of R. F. Laird's The Boomer Bible and Kurt Vonnegut at his most repetitive. That being said, the book's constant refrain of Twitter/Google/Facebook/Apple making money off of us making idiots of ourselves as we search for idiocy, stream idiocy, and bask in that narcissistic idiocy is dead on. But we didn't need a novel to say that when a tweet would have sufficed.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul Dembina

    Actually more like 6/5. I'm not usually one to gush, but consider me in full gush mode. No plot to speak of but the guy speaks my language. I know he hates any comparison with Kurt Vonnegut but in my opinion it's undeniably there. Plain speaking and heart felt. Please read this guy if you have any interest in the world we find ourselves in Actually more like 6/5. I'm not usually one to gush, but consider me in full gush mode. No plot to speak of but the guy speaks my language. I know he hates any comparison with Kurt Vonnegut but in my opinion it's undeniably there. Plain speaking and heart felt. Please read this guy if you have any interest in the world we find ourselves in

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sian

    Okay so normally when I DNF books I had to read for uni it's because I didn't have time to finish them before class, and will eventually go back and finish them. This is not one of those books. Kobek is one of the most infuriating authors/narrators/human beings I have ever had the misfortune of having to read. On the bright side, my lecturer thought it was hilarious that I could only get to chapter five before wanting to fling it out my window. She was more interested in the fact that she loved Okay so normally when I DNF books I had to read for uni it's because I didn't have time to finish them before class, and will eventually go back and finish them. This is not one of those books. Kobek is one of the most infuriating authors/narrators/human beings I have ever had the misfortune of having to read. On the bright side, my lecturer thought it was hilarious that I could only get to chapter five before wanting to fling it out my window. She was more interested in the fact that she loved it while the rest of the class hated it, and the generational gap it signified between her and the students, so I didn't even get in trouble, which is always nice. Anyway, if you're into middle-aged white men complaining about modern society for 400+ pages, then this is the book for you. But, yeah... this was decidedly not the book for me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kai Schreiber

    Well. This rant against the current incarnation of web spirit is so clearly modeled on Vonnegut in style and content that it's impossible not to notice how the major ingredient that made Vonnegut's ramblings cohere and transcend is sorely lacking in this one: heart. It is not enough to declare everyone a dumb asshole in a semi-poetic recurring chant, nor to create pessimistic lists of the frustrating mechanisms of existence, to create something positive. While this book is funny at times, and ha Well. This rant against the current incarnation of web spirit is so clearly modeled on Vonnegut in style and content that it's impossible not to notice how the major ingredient that made Vonnegut's ramblings cohere and transcend is sorely lacking in this one: heart. It is not enough to declare everyone a dumb asshole in a semi-poetic recurring chant, nor to create pessimistic lists of the frustrating mechanisms of existence, to create something positive. While this book is funny at times, and has a few snarky insight moments, it is mainly full of bitterness and disappointment. It reads as the revenge of a former nerd and science fiction- and technology fan, who was let down when the shiny future failed to materialize.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Biederman

    If you are *super* into what Vicktor Shklovsky called estrangement, you will love this book. It really rides that device all the way home. It's kind of like a book written by the smartest high school sophomore. Like...oh yes, son, I never thought of any of those clever things you have to say about OKCupid/the Paula Deen scandal/the whole financial system being a ponzi scheme...*closes eyes, begins nap* Please, tell me more! If you are *super* into what Vicktor Shklovsky called estrangement, you will love this book. It really rides that device all the way home. It's kind of like a book written by the smartest high school sophomore. Like...oh yes, son, I never thought of any of those clever things you have to say about OKCupid/the Paula Deen scandal/the whole financial system being a ponzi scheme...*closes eyes, begins nap* Please, tell me more!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    Well, who doesn’t? If you don’t Jarett Kobek delivers many scorched earth reasons why you should. His flaming declarations encompass not just the Internet but the casual racism and sexism of modern American society, the passé existence of modern literary fiction, how Marvel comics screwed Jack Kirby, why we’re in thrall to advertising and, in particular, the utter destruction of San Francisco, America’s most beautiful city, by the depredations of modern technology. The book has an odd structure Well, who doesn’t? If you don’t Jarett Kobek delivers many scorched earth reasons why you should. His flaming declarations encompass not just the Internet but the casual racism and sexism of modern American society, the passé existence of modern literary fiction, how Marvel comics screwed Jack Kirby, why we’re in thrall to advertising and, in particular, the utter destruction of San Francisco, America’s most beautiful city, by the depredations of modern technology. The book has an odd structure for a novel but well suited to a good internet rant. There is what might be called a proto-novel which centers around Adeline and Jeremy, occasionally famous for Trill, a graphic novel which they created in the 90s, and their many, many damaged friends. What’s interesting is that the rant itself comes from our third person narrator who unveils the many, many factors that annoy him and then the characters sometimes speak of these things or not. Adeline became my favorite character mostly because she “was then suffering from many strange habits including an affected Transatlantic accent” which causes her to converse like this, here’s she’s giving a lecture to a “media” class at some college. A student asks Adeline a question: “But, like, don’t you like, think that, you know, Facebook and Twitter can serve, like, a role in the pursuit of, like, social progress?” asked the student. “Pray tell, sweet flower, what is social progress?” asked Adeline. “Social progress might have had meaning twenty years ago when I was but a young thing, but these days it’s become the product of corporations. But what do you people know, anyway? You’re a lost generation. Even your drugs are corporate. You spend your lives pretending as if Beyoncé and Rihanna possess some inherent meaning and act as if their every professional success, which only occur because of your money and your attention, is a strike forward for women everywhere. Which is sheer nonsense and poppycock, oh my wretches.” Why she chooses to speak in this manner is also explained: It was when she was still in high school that Adeline adopted her Transatlantic accent. This accent sounds half-way American and half-way British. Other than upper-class snobs and actors in early sound films, no human being has ever used this accent. It is entirely artificial. It died out around 1965. Adeline had adopted a Transatlantic accent in 1984 after watching the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The book’s comprehensive list of targets is admirably diverse. We move from the usual internet targets such as Google and Facebook to the Arab Spring, modern celebrity, basketball, Ayn Rand, the juvenile reading habits of tech people, i.e. UNIX systems administrators, network engineers, and Ruby developers who’d been rendered functionally illiterate by their collegiate computer science programs. How one receives the rant will, no doubt, depend on personal perspective and experience but a great many of Kobek’s salvos are accurate, although there is no suggestion of a solution.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Pickle Farmer

    I first heard of this book because I read an interview with the author online. The interview was basically a scathing rant that I found hysterically funny, so I read this book to find more of the same. In that sense the book doesn't disappoint. It's basically a howl in the dark. Reading this for character or plot is not the best mindset with which to approach it. I read it because I enjoyed reading sentences like "Miley Cyrus' songs were about the same six subjects of all songs by all pop stars: I first heard of this book because I read an interview with the author online. The interview was basically a scathing rant that I found hysterically funny, so I read this book to find more of the same. In that sense the book doesn't disappoint. It's basically a howl in the dark. Reading this for character or plot is not the best mindset with which to approach it. I read it because I enjoyed reading sentences like "Miley Cyrus' songs were about the same six subjects of all songs by all pop stars: love, celebrity, fucking, heartbreak, money, and buying ugly shit" (264) or "Arcade Fire was a Canadian band which experienced minor popularity in the early 2000s before transforming into a market commodity that aging parents used as a theoretical reference point with their Internet addicted children." (275) LOL. This is the kind of book in which Twitter is described as "a mechanism by which teenagers tormented each other into suicide" (130), the Internet as "a wonderful resource for sexism, abusing the mentally ill, and libeling the dead" (196) and as a way "to create content based on inflamed emotion for the sake of selling advertisements," (212) and Instagram as "the first social media platform to which the only sane reaction was hate... Mostly, Instagram's users uploaded photographs of things on which they'd either spent money or wished to spend money." (76) I dug it. This book reconfirmed my belief that I do not want to live in the Bay Area. Other brutal satire moments: "On the Internet, you could be right. On the Internet, you could be wrong. You could love racism. You could hate racism. It didn't matter. In the end, everything was just money." (211) "Expressing concern about racism was a new religion and focusing on language rather than political mechanics was an effortless, and meaningless, way of making sure one was seen in a front-row pew of the new church. They prayed not from any hard earned process of thought or genuine faith but because failing to bow and scrap before the shibboleths of the moneyed political Left might hurt their job prospects. And poor job prospects meant less money to buy consumer electronics built by slaves." (212) "The illusion of the Internet was the idea that the opinions of powerless people, freely offered, had some impact on the world. This was, of course, total bullshit." (213) "Global warming and climate change were the methods by which the human species, plagued by guilt and unacknowledged depression, committed suicide. The mechanisms of this suicide were eating too much beef, operating too many electronics and driving too many cars." (184) "I am moving back to Los Angeles where gentrification barely works because everything is a hideous strip mall and there is nothing worth destroying!" (270-271)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    Jarett Kobek is not a genius, nor was Gilles Deleuze, but the latter had a moment when he wrote, "It is not the slumber of reason that engenders monsters, but vigilant and insomniac rationality," and the former seemingly tapped into a spectral intelligence when he wrote ATTA, henceforth being held to this impossibly high standard when he wants to address the organization of daily living in his works that have followed. I Hate the Internet is a shout from the Mission rooftops to the zombies cradl Jarett Kobek is not a genius, nor was Gilles Deleuze, but the latter had a moment when he wrote, "It is not the slumber of reason that engenders monsters, but vigilant and insomniac rationality," and the former seemingly tapped into a spectral intelligence when he wrote ATTA, henceforth being held to this impossibly high standard when he wants to address the organization of daily living in his works that have followed. I Hate the Internet is a shout from the Mission rooftops to the zombies cradling their devices. This is a book about what it means to attempt writing an authentic review like this one on an electric platform such as this that generates obscene wealth for a small group of data-collecting cyborgs who took publicly funded innovation, put a gilded thimble on top, took the loot and began colonizing cities such as San Francisco that were among the last places in the country where any hungry freak could go find a community. Was it all inevitable? There's a particularly brilliant section in Kobek's novel about the successful self-mythologizing of these post-human sybarites. Who is Hades, you ask? You'll have to read the book to find out. This is a fantastic work of imagination and the people's history. You will laugh out loud. You will recognize yourself and your friends after that moment of giving in to this gaudily illuminated technogarbage. But finally, you will put down your device and look out past the clouds to the sea.

  26. 4 out of 5

    David

    This is it. This is the darkness laid bare, this is the evisceration of our rotten-boweled reality. Rage, yes, righteous rage but *funny*. If you're going to be filled with righteous rage, you might as well be funny too. Kobek wrote the brilliant book Atta a few years back. Powerful, brilliant work. Hard to shake. This is better. I'm so honored and glad to have found this book. It feels like freedom, and if it's the freedom of death, of finding out that, yes, we're all already dead, well, that's This is it. This is the darkness laid bare, this is the evisceration of our rotten-boweled reality. Rage, yes, righteous rage but *funny*. If you're going to be filled with righteous rage, you might as well be funny too. Kobek wrote the brilliant book Atta a few years back. Powerful, brilliant work. Hard to shake. This is better. I'm so honored and glad to have found this book. It feels like freedom, and if it's the freedom of death, of finding out that, yes, we're all already dead, well, that's a freedom of a sort. Absolutely brilliant, and an instant classic. I just pray, dream, hope that maybe it will someday not apply to our reality. But it's a longshot. Jarrett Kobek, it's a home run. (A home run is a particular outcome of an "at bat" in the sport called baseball. Sports are a system that provide an illusion of meaning...) I salute you. I want to post excerpts. But it's all gold. The excerpt is the whole book. Go read the whole book. I just had the typo "go dread the whole book". That applies too. Go. Do it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeroen Kraan

    I Hate the Internet was a book. It was written by Jarett Kobek, an author of books. I don’t care if he had any eumelanin in the basale stratum of his fucking epidermis. Like other books, this one was a bundled piece of printed matter. Like other pieces of printed matter, it contained mostly bullshit. While some of it was entertaining, it was most definitely bullshit. Jarett Kobek was full of bullshit. He used his book I Hate the Internet to criticise 21st century technologies and media. He did thi I Hate the Internet was a book. It was written by Jarett Kobek, an author of books. I don’t care if he had any eumelanin in the basale stratum of his fucking epidermis. Like other books, this one was a bundled piece of printed matter. Like other pieces of printed matter, it contained mostly bullshit. While some of it was entertaining, it was most definitely bullshit. Jarett Kobek was full of bullshit. He used his book I Hate the Internet to criticise 21st century technologies and media. He did this in a distinctive style that very quickly became annoying. Some of the book read like Wikipedia. Other parts read like the dim-witted rants of a semi-literate Twitter user. Like most Twitter users, Jarett Kobek was annoying. The fourth paragraph of this review was a section on Lady Gaga, for no good reason. It went on a bit about her appearance and fans and then abruptly ended. Jarett Kobek’s novel I Hate the Internet was bad. At least Jarett Kobek acknowledged this in the novel. That was good.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Larry Clark

    Some of the thoughts in here correlate uncannily to the current state of the internet and our social media-driven society, but I think the characters and plot will dissipate from my memory in short order. Certainly, sections of the book were hilarious satire. I just kept wishing for something a little more.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Basma

    Meh. I don’t get it. Very cool premise, very cool start and then it completely lost me! The side rants/conversations were increasing and didn’t make sense to me and it kind of minimized the actual plot and main rants/conversations. The excitement just dwindled and I’ve put the book a side after a bit more than half way through the book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    This book spent 280 pages convincing me it was a bad novel

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