“Welcome to the Internet” by Bo Burnham
It is literally impossible to browse the entire internet. According to one respectable estimate, if a person actually set out to do so, it would take him or her well over 20 million years to accomplish said task. So, that’s another way of saying that there’s a whole lotta content on the world wide web. And ultimately such is the concept upon which “Welcome to the Internet” is based on.
For instance, the first verse points out that there is something on the internet for everyone. In other words, Bo doesn’t know of a single individual of whom there’s nothing of interest on the ‘net. And he goes about illustrating this point in the second verse by making a stark contrast, asking a potential viewer would s/he prefer to read the news or instead gawk at “any famous women’s feet?”
It is here upon which the comedic nature of the lyrics are first overtly manifest. But again, Burnham is making a point. And that is there being a diverse range of content online, from the serious to the absolutely frivolous. And this idea is perhaps most simply put across with a line in the third verse, in which he touts the internet as a media that possesses “a million different ways to engage”.
But that noted, the remaining three verses seem to focus more on the humorous, unconstructive and even darker sides of the web. But again, the fundamental argument being made is something like the range of content on the internet is so diverse that no one can actually list it all.
The chorus however speaks more to the ideological side of being a netizen. For instance, Bo puts forth that, as such an individual, you’re supposed to at least have something like a cause(s), and being bored is a no-no. He also presents the internet as being, shall we say mind-boggling for lack of a better word. That is to say that users are dealing with a little bit of everything all the time. Or as some have argued, he is speaking to the concept of overstimulation.
The bridge also takes on a more-serious tone, even if the wording remains, to some degree, comedic. And in that particular passage it would appear that Burnham, albeit indirectly, is harping on internet addiction. He remembers a time when the ‘net did not exist, so to speak. But then little kiddies, as he was more or less himself at the time, started using their ‘mommies’ devices. And resultantly, we now have a generation of individuals who, apparently for the worse, were literally nurtured or brought up with the world wide web being a major socializing factor in their lives.
What “Welcome to the Internet” is all about
So as you can see there’s a lot going in this song, making the ascertainment of a thesis statement somewhat challenging. But conclusively, we would say that Bo Burnham is not dissing the internet per se. Rather his gripe would be more like it has become too powerful a factor in our lives, consuming too much of our time as netizens. And this is a classification which in places like America for instance most people fall into anyway.
But it consuming our time in such a manner is inevitable as there is such a wide range of subject matter, some good but most of it ultimately fruitless, to pique our interest.
Bo Burnham is a famous comedian, the type who apparently still makes audio records consisting of his jokes. Or at least in this particular case he came out with a Netflix special in 2021 called Bo Burnham: Inside. And then the music that was featured on said show was subsequently released on its own, as an audio record, entitled Inside (The Songs). And “Welcome to the Internet”, which itself was issued on 10 June 2021, is derived from said project.
This is a song that Burnham both wrote and produced himself.
Being 30 years old at the time of this release, Burnham’s career dates back to 2006. That means he became professionally active as a teenager. Or that was the time when, sort of unintentionally at first, he became popular on YouTube via comedy videos he put together. And to note, music has also been part of his act since the early goings.
It was also back in the aughts, 2008 to be exact, that Burnham signed a deal with one of the biggest names in the funny game, Comedy Central or more specifically Comedy Central Records. In fact they were the label behind his maiden EP titled “Bo Fo Sho” (2008), in addition to his first three live albums, Bo Burnham (2009), Words Words Words (2010) and What (2013). Thus Inside (The Songs) is listed as his fourth live album. And it would appear this latest undertaking is a self-released project.