How the nightmare of MGS2 is happening today.
The old dream of the Internet is dead and gone. The remnants of “Web 1.0”, such as this website, are an endangered species. They were born out of an individualist, libertarian ideal that once dominated, several years before the social media revolution. User-generated content platforms and aggregation systems changed everything. When Metal Gear Solid 2 was released in 2001 the Internet was scattered, simple, and decentralized. Message boards and websites were focused on narrow topics. The “affiliated sites” sections were the closest thing to a social network you’d get. Users had big lists of bookmarks in their browsers, and visited dozens of them to get their daily fix of updates and see what was new. Many websites didn’t update for days or weeks at a time, but people visited routinely anyway just in case. Even in 2008 when I created this place, that tradition was still going strong.
Web 2.0 was building huge momentum, and it seemed to prove Hideo Kojima totally wrong about the scary future of censorship. Far from being a dystopian nightmare of information control, it was the exact opposite: unlimited potential to share ideas, news, and creativity — for free! Even video hosting, which costs a lot of money, was provided to the public as an act of pure charity. There was almost no censorship, even of illegal content like pirated videos, songs, and so on. It seemed the guardian angels of the 21st Century had arrived, and their names were YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, Reddit, and so on. A new golden age.
On the ground floor, a certain breed of sociopathic power-seekers leapt at this new frontier with enthusiasm, serving as a perfect microcosm for what was happening to the internet itself. In the Metal Gear community these people raced to grab the most impressive, official sounding user names and group titles they could think of on every free and open platform, usually becoming the default administrators in the process. By perching in the loftiest positions, they could attract aimless newcomers by the thousands and dictate the hierarchy of authority in the community. They could control the scene as they pleased, which gave them a perverse delight. (Of course this happened with many communities and subcultures, not just Metal Gear.) Ignorant people would find their way there months and years later, seeing the impressive numbers and assume that it was the best place to hang out and share their enthusiasm. They unwittingly went along with the narrative shaped by their benevolent hosts.
In a way, they were living inside a microscopic version of the S3 Plan happening all around us.
Ignorance is Bliss
Raiden believes he has been empowered. He is part of the legendary FOXHOUND unit, and even begins with the official codename of “Snake”. He has a support team, cutting-edge equipment, and a license to kill. As we later find out, the only reason he was given any of this responsibility was because he was morally compromised, easy to control, and addicted to their narrative. Even with a million red flags along the way, he remains a willing dupe, playing out the script written for him. He’s the “hero”.
The illusion of empowerment is almost as good as the real thing, you see. As long as people feel like they’re in control of their own destiny and are part of an impressive narrative, they can turn a blind eye to any warning signs happening around them. The prospect of gaining more power, more followers, and more money is too tempting; they don’t want to spoil it by paying seeing that their lofty perch has turned into a birdcage. People get addicted to power and influence quickly, especially if they lack real talent and cleverness. Many get jealous, petty, spiteful, and seek out positions of power so they can crush those who might compete with their prestige or siphon their influence. Just look at the lengths people are willing to go in order to gain a few more subscribers or milk their followers a little harder these days. In theory we all hate censorship and want to live freely without being manipulated, but yet we all watch as the Overton window is shrinking. Only those with an unfortunate martyr-complex are willing to fight back and raise hell, it seems. They don’t last long.
It turns out Kojima was completely right, of course. Web 2.0 was the ultimate bait-and-switch for the millennial generation, getting us to give away all of our creativity and dreams to an invisible consortium of military technocrats, who would use our investment as leverage against us. Absorbed into the advanced system of incentives and dopamine addictions, we no longer had the power to stand up for anything we believed in. At best we complain on the same platforms we hate. It’s like feebly nibbling on the hand that feeds us and simultaneously keeps us locked up. We don’t truly want to break free and handle the pressure of being on our own — just express our helpless disapproval.
#GamerGate wake up call
Let’s remember that #GamerGate was a wake up call to a whole generation of young men to see the strings being pulled around us. Suddenly we realized that our “saviors” were against us, and that any real attempt to expose the truth and make a difference would be erased and invalidated in real time. We saw a conspiracy of platforms. They were working together hand-in-hand behind the scenes, coordinating their cover stories and damage control. The same sociopathic breed of control freaks who raced to dominate the social media platforms and build their pathetic little empires had become charged with shutting down the truth when it popped up in their domains. In many cases censorship was literally their jobs.
Real journalism, real activism, and real information is always the enemy of a totalitarian control grid, including the digital. Questions are shut down, curiosity is punished, and rebellion is crushed. Weaselly, unattractive, sickly, sniveling “woke” nobodies bask in their own petty power at times like this, cherishing the ability to cut down swaths of people who are better, smarter, and more worthy than themselves. The hatred and spite of a worthless life can burn down unlimited value around itself; it’s the vengeance of the eternal loser, and power is all they want.
What they didn’t realize was that they were simply a placeholder for the Artificial Intelligence algorithms that would soon take over their positions. Above those small, meaningless communities was a method — a protocol — that would shape the narrative of society itself.
Next let’s look at the current battle and where it’s going.