Already in its title, Jarett Kobek's 2016 novel is as cynical as it is true. I Hate the Internet is a book trying to come to terms with contemporary culture and our fascination with the digital world in particular, in a rant that is both glorifying and amusing. There could not be a more accurate description of our own love–hate relationship with the digital age.
San Francisco in the year 2013: in a city fueled and corrupted by tech money from Silicon Valley, comic book artist Adeline embodies many clichés of Western culture. She is middle-aged, white, slightly eccentric and very aware of her privileged status as an artist. Her circle of friends is equally artistic and self-involved.
As a somewhat famous person, she profits from the possibilities of the digital world until she becomes the target of online outrage. But the troubles of its protagonists are secondary in Kobek's first full-length novel. At its center is the Internet itself, which has infiltrated every aspect of human life in the 21st Century.
I Hate the Internet is a close, critical observation of contemporary society and its problems. Why is it that we are not more worried to give so much of ourselves to the digital world?
In a society that lives and breathes capitalism, we are as much appalled by the Internet as we are drawn to it, perhaps because it reveals parts of ourselves we did not know we had: desires and dreams as well as weaknesses and fears.