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Brain Rot: Internet’s Latest Vice for Gen Alpha

 

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Brain Rot: Internet’s Latest Vice for Gen Alpha

Turns out using ‘rizz’ and ‘skibidi’ and other such internet terms excessively is an indicator of a concerning state of social media addiction. The phenomenon is being termed as ‘brain rot’, a word that has been popping up on our feeds lately. This condition, seen by Gen Alpha as being cool, is causing a concern among Gen Z. Brain rot, despite its simple, literal meaning, is not a medical issue — but it does affect one’s interpretation of reality in a disturbing way.

What is ‘brain rot’

Brain rot is a phenomenon that can be regarded as a result of doomscrolling. The condition, however, manifests upon watching heaps of pointless content — that is of no use to the brain. Another particular aspect of brain rot content is low-quality graphics. The videos and images are not exactly the best, and it seems to be attractive to those experiencing the condition. They seem to provide no entertainment or information, and yet they are extremely engrossing. Brain rot means that an individual is overwhelmed with prolonged exposure to such content.

The kind of content that generates this feeling is called brain rot as well, becoming a new trend. They involve terms that seem exclusive to Gen Alpha, like ‘gyat’, ‘looksmaxxing’, ‘fanum tax’, etc. They have no cultural value of their own, but have become things that the young — children and teens — are associating themselves with. Naturally, any kid in high school who doesn’t know what ‘rizz’ means is automatically ridiculed. To them, the pointlessness of these things are not visible. And hence, it is often Gen Z that is identifying brain rot in their own generation, and that of Alpha’s. 

When brain rot becomes a problem

The concern is in the way this brain rot affects this generation’s interaction with reality. There are people who reportedly find it impossible to converse with others using terms from this kind of content. Brain rot is an indicator of the extreme influence social media now has on our life, with the way we consume content beginning to affect our perspectives on reality. The concern for brain rot began when a TikTok user was shocked that he recognised a popular meme in a famous illustration. Titled ‘The 2000 Yard Stare,’ it literally shows how the condition affects soldiers who have been in war. Brain rot essentially causes people to look at life the way with interpretations derived from consuming nonsensical content for unhealthy lengths of time. People are beginning to associate elements in the world to online trends, effectively merging the two realms. 

Phenomena like these are not very rare. In India, for example, a Serbian song suddenly became popular during the 2023 ICC Men’s ODI World Cup. Suddenly, everyone, including us millennials and Gen Z-ers, were using the term ‘moye moye’ in every informal conversation. The phrase refers to a hopeless situation, seen with a comedic light. Us oldies, however, restricted the usage of the term as a joke. Kids, however, seem to have incorporated it in their everyday modes of communication. Words like ‘delulu’, ‘cap’, and ‘drip’ are also part of our slang language, but the problem is when people struggle to communicate without using them exhaustively. Because, much to their dismay, we are not yet at a position where an overwhelming use of these slangs have become normal. 

Gen Alpha is leaving Gen Z behind

Brain rot is also an indicator how the gap between Gen Z and Alpha is increasing. To the 20 somethings, the ‘Skibidi Toilet’ series would have most scratching their heads. It’s not entirely unknown to Gen Z, but is associated exclusively with Gen Alpha. Skibidi toilet, for noobs, is a Youtube series that has ghastly, low-quality human heads emerging from toilets. They are also at war with humanoid camera-head things.

A viral video on social media shows a teacher displaying to his class a set of emails his students sent with reference to some assignments. Here’s the entirety (minus the emojis) of one such email:

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“[Bro]…. I NEED you to plz fox my grade bro[.] Can you slide for me like king von and give me an A[.] On skibidi fix my grade or I’m letting the alpha unleash[.]” (Most of the email lacked full stops for some reason.)

The teacher is both taking a dig at them for their language and also trying to bridge the generation gap between him and his students. But the language and syntax of the text will go above any 20-and-above’s head. The overwhelming way these internet words were incorporated in these emails shows how dependent kids are on internet culture. We would be appalled if someone our age wrote out such an email to their colleagues. 

While kids these days prefer to see it as a label of coolness, brain rot will affect their connections and behavior in reality. The way they perceive the world is different to how even Gen Z does. Of course, being in the loop is a necessity for being a part of the society. But normalizing things of no great value, so much so that it becomes an identifier of a particular culture, is a little disconcerting, if not alarming.


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