Bo Burnham’s ‘Inside’: an insight into the hyper-online age

Master of dark wit Bo Burnham has dropped his new Netflix special ‘Inside’ with a splash.

“Burnham’s concerns about the world are almost exclusively applicable to an in-tune, sociologically aware younger generation.”

“Burnham’s concerns about the world are almost exclusively applicable to an in-tune, sociologically aware younger generation.”


Satirical king and master of dark wit, Bo Burnham, has dropped his new Netflix special Inside with a splash. It set Twitter aflame with excitement, where people posted their admiration for Inside’s accuracy in presenting the problems that exist in our great technological age.

A copious amount of fan art depicting the comedian has also made its way onto Twitter which is always an indication of someone’s popularity among post-millennial teens.

Burnham’s concerns about the world are almost exclusively applicable to an in-tune, sociologically aware younger generation. Young people easily recognise the themes about which he writes: racism, corporate elitism, false internet pretences, etcetera.

As the most academic and, arguably, the most politically aware generation for their age they are all too informed on such issues. However, the question remains on whether this hyperawareness is indeed a positive characteristic of the younger generation.

In an era where opinions on liberalism and social justice are circulated on the internet every nanosecond of every day, it is easy to become incensed about the deplorable state of the world without actually reflecting on the damage this constant negativity does to you as a person.

After all, is being negative better than apathetic?

Does constant outrage trump boredom? Is your iPhone bubbling over with news notifications, just itching to show you that somewhere in the world there is something negative happening? Put simply, this constant barrage of negativity cannot be good for our mental health.

Throughout the epidemic of negative news coverage, the so-called “snowflake generation” continues to navigate the still newly birthed internet. (“Generation Snowflake” being an offensive term coined in 2016 to denote an emotionally fragile younger generation).

Honestly, it’s no wonder toxic, unnecessary anxiety tarnishes our young people: they are wrongly led to believe that the world is in the worst state it has ever been!

All I can say is Thank God for the quixotic escapism of privileged white women’s Instagram accounts…amiright kids? (Watch the Netflix special to get the reference, thank you).

Thinking for ourselves

Inside distinctly reminds me of another floppy-haired satirical songster. Tim Minchin’s comedy song The Fence explains how the constant onslaught of information and opinions on the internet can cause us to lose our sense of self, causing our own independent thoughts to, slowly but surely, start to depend on others.

The internet’s gunfire of stron g opinions leads us to subconsciously stop forming our own beliefs and, instead, start to believe the piffle written by anonymous users that we do not even know.

After all, why think for yourself when everyone else seems so deeply set in their opinions?


Therefore, it seems that sitting on the fence just doesn’t cut the mustard these days.

That said, I am hopeful that we are starting to make a positive turn, especially in terms of our understanding of internet toxicity. In the second half of Inside, Burnham personifies the internet as a Willy Wonka-type character, offering impressionable kids all types of pleasures including infinite distraction and constant entertainment.

His mantra, “a little bit of everything all of the time”, perfectly embodies the subconscious takeover of the internet over our malleable minds. Burnham shows us that internet consumption is no panacea to anxiety. Rather, internet consumption grooms well-rounded children (and adults) to become social media slaves and infests their brains with perennial self-doubt.

Therefore, the rising popularity of internet scepticism is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. Netflix specials such as Inside and The Social Dilemma shed light on social media’s ingenuity, as well as the internet’s ever-concerning data invasion.

Reflecting the subtitle to this point, net experts in The Social Dilemma admit that they do not allow their children to use social media. In other words, those who know the dangers of the internet better than most are so concerned about social media overmastering their children’s lives that they are completely banned from its use.

Surely this shows that by expressing every opinion we hold and every emotion we feel on social media we make ourselves more vulnerable than we could imagine.

Not only are we allowing the vulturous trolls to pick and gobble up our insides, not only are we plastering our opinions to our Facebook walls forevermore for future generations to scoff at, but we are also giving a part of our souls away to that strange, creepy and unknown Willy Wonka character that is the internet. I’m sure he will take great pleasure in profiling our innermost insecurities.

At the risk of being accused of hypocrisy, I (a tiny, irrelevant internet guppy) would now like to express my opinion about the internet, on the internet.

Frankly, when it comes to online debacle it is my opinion that too many cooks spoil the broth.

When both sides of a debate start flying their evangelistic opinions every which way, one starts to feel swamped and exhausted by all the vitriol.

Unfortunately, it seems impossible to live without the interference of some irrelevant “netizens” (habitual internet users) spewing bile about the hottest new controversy that happens to be sparking debate. But as long as we are acutely aware of the internet’s folly and some of its users’ stupidity, we should be able to resist the sultry temptation of internet dependence.

The beauty of Bo Burnham’s special is that he does not lecture the audience on how to go about their lives after having listened to what he has to say but allows them to make their own choice about their future relationship with the online world.

This burdens us with a choice: we can either return to our zombie-like infatuation with the internet while being aware of its addictive features, or we can wean ourselves away from it.

In respect of my Gen-Z counterparts I will decline to write a preachy conclusion to this piece, though I believe my stance on this subject has been made inadvertently clear.

I sincerely hope we, as a society, can effectively protect ourselves from the internet. See it not as a sacrifice, but as a means of self-preservation. Consequentially, perhaps we will allow ourselves to be just a little bit happier.