It can be hard to appreciate just how big of an impact the internet has had since it sparked the drastic transformation our increasingly interconnected world has undergone over the past few decades thanks to the countless innovations that have impacted almost every single facet of our daily lives. Society has undoubtedly reaped the countless benefits that have accompanied this revolution, but sadly, it’s also repeatedly fallen victim to people who’ve apparently never seen Jurassic Park and saw an opportunity to leave their mark by harnessing the shiny technology that enchanted them into believing anything they created would be inherently good for the world.
Much like a giant theme park populated by dinosaurs that disappeared from the face of the Earth 65 million years ago seems pretty cool at first glance, it’s easy to understand the appeal of social media, which provides users with the ability to interact with people around the globe while appealing to humanity’s voyeuristic tendencies by offering the chance to take a glance into the lives of friends and total strangers alike. However, those benefits are arguably outweighed by all of the negatives that lurk beneath the toxic waters of a massive cesspool that’s expanded exponentially since first forming as the puddle of sludge that began to grow when the Top 8 on Myspace started ending friendships.
While there’s no real way to prove social media as a whole has caused more harm than good, virtually every company that’s established itself as a major player in the space at some point has fallen into the same trap. In an industry where growth is the primary indicator of success, there is an incredible incentive to appeal to as many people as possible. Unfortunately, any rise in popularity that comes with harnessing that strategy is almost always accompanied by a spike in the number of the vocally stupid people who make up a large chunk of the masses who were being appealed to, and their arrival usually marks the start the decline in the enjoyment your average user will be able to derive from it.
There’s no way to know if Vine would’ve eventually befallen the fate it largely managed to avoid over the course of a glorious three-year run that came to an end in 2016 but I do know I will always have a special place in my heart for the app I became absolutely obsessed with during our all-too-brief time together.
I wasn’t a huge fan of “mainstream” creators like Brent Rivera, King Bach, and Lance210, as they had a tendency to take Vine way too seriously and arguably undermined what the app was all about when they started posting special effects-filled videos that appealed to an audience almost entirely comprised of adults who’ve gone to Disney World alone and preteens who were technically violating the terms of service if they signed up for an account without the permission of a parent.
Part of me is glad Vine shut down before it saw its legacy tarnished beyond repair by overly polished content like that, as it really went against the spirit of a platform that should be remembered for low-budget videos defined by the brand of humor peddled by the likes of Nick Colletti, Cody Ko, and the many other brilliant minds who produced some incredible comedy back in the day.
I once used Vine to create a video that got over 100 likes (no big deal), but sadly, the clip I was hoping would serve as the catalyst for my meteoric transformation into a viral sensation turned out to be my peak and I never joined the ranks of those who managed to crack the code on their way to amassing millions of adoring followers.
I’ve always had an odd fascination with the people who managed to earn the label of “Vine Star” that was bestowed upon the app’s most popular creators, and when the gravy train they’d relied on for internet fame came to a halt, I continued to keep tabs on what many of them were up to. While some of them simply faded away, plenty of others were able to successfully make the jump to other places that let you upload clips longer than six seconds—primarily YouTube, where they suddenly found themselves incentivized to make videos that were a hundred times longer than what they were accustomed to.
Again, not everyone was able to adapt, but more than a few saw the majority of their followers live up to that label by flocking to a new platform where “subscribers” was the preferred term despite its ability to breed some of the most cultish fanbases the internet has to offer. It might sound hyperbolic, but this migration to YouTube is one of the more impactful events in internet history, as many of the creators who successfully pivoted would soon become the prototypical social media stars.
Now, I know I previously said Vine was a rare exception in a social media ecosystem polluted by the worst aspects of humanity, and while I maintain the joy it brought into the world was more than enough to counteract any negative elements it spawned, it’s still impossible to overlook some of the monsters that owe their entire existence to the app that inadvertently brought them into a world they made actively worse—none of who’ve managed to do more harm than Jake Paul.
Jake burst onto the scene in the early days of Vine when he and his brother Logan started making videos and quickly became two of the app’s most popular creators. While their ability to consistently post amusing clips was obviously a major factor in their success, I also remember being absolutely mesmerized by Logan’s shredded bod when I first discovered him, and as a straight dude, I am more than happy to admit it played a role in my decision to follow him in the first place. I didn’t find him particularly funny but his ability to consistently provide me with mildly amusing videos and some major motivation to go to the gym was enough to keep me hooked. However, I never would’ve guessed I’d be writing about him and his younger brother seven years later.
For some reason, famous YouTube personalities seem to attract the kind of fans who become absolutely obsessed with every single aspect of their personal life. I personally could not care less about what David Dobrik ate for lunch or who Markiplier is dating but I’ve found myself just as obsessed with how they racked up millions of followers who possess the kind of undying loyalty usually reserved for fans of boy bands and serial killers.
Here’s what really baffles me: basically everyone on social media makes content about their lives, so how did so many of these people reach a point where their updates are routinely viewed by the millions of strangers who’ve become emotionally invested in the day-to-day existence of a person they’ve never met? I can’t even get lifelong friends to like my tweets! They obviously didn’t just stumble into success, but at the same time, it’s not like they got where they are based on pure talent. So why did these people rise to the top?
I’ve spent years watching these 20-something millionaires party with supermodels in a beach house in Malibu and still can’t figure out if there’s something I could’ve done to have that kind of lifestyle as opposed to one that involves still living with my parents, worrying about student loans, searching for a job that won’t make me more miserable than I already am, and so many other things they’ll never have to worry about.
As a result, I’ve decided it’s finally time to get serious about solving this mystery and can’t think of a better case to investigate than that of the 23-year-old self-proclaimed “Problem Child” who is Jake Paul.
The Paul Brothers initially burst onto the scene in 2013 after Logan discovered Vine had a healthy appetite for the family-friendly videos featuring the harmless shenanigans and inoffensive jokes that helped him blow up shortly after he started uploading them on a routine basis. At the time, he was a high school wrestler whose biggest claim to fame was qualifying for the state championship in Ohio, which he left behind the following year when he dropped out of college to pursue his dreams of social media stardom in Los Angeles.
After making the move to YouTube, he slowly but surely began to embody almost every insufferable quality associated with the influencers he arguably became the poster boy for. His journey hasn’t been mired in nearly as much controversy as Jake’s but he did catch a bit of heat in 2018 after coming across a dead body while filming a video in a “suicide forest” in Japan and decided to lighten the mood with a few jokes that did not land with most of the people who watched it.
The fallout that ensued led to Logan taking a break before emerging for the inevitable apology tour in an attempt to undo some of the damage, but as far as I’m concerned, any harm he might have caused with that misstep pales in comparison to one truly unforgivable act that deserves no forgiveness but which most people have given him a pass for.
Jake Paul would be nothing without Vine, and while he may have eventually discovered it on its own, I’d argue Logan is complicit in everything that unfolded after he recruited his brother to appear in some of his videos. Jake eventually made his own account in 2014 and the 16-year-old quickly gained some traction of his own thanks to the stupid stunts and dumb jokes people absolutely ate up.
In 2015, Jake landed a role on Bizaardvark, a Disney Channel series I know nothing about but I assume is kind of like The Fly if you swapped Jeff Goldblum for Biz Markie and the titular animal with a long-nosed mammal native to Africa. Going from a teenage nobody living in Ohio to a regular on a cable television show in less than a couple of years was a pretty wild development but it wouldn’t take nearly that long for the world to become all too familiar with who Jake Paul really is.
I don’t know if Jake handpicked the thumbnail for the above compilation but he couldn’t have selected a single image that summarizes his personality better than that. He’s always been one of those insanely energetic “Where’s his medication?”-types, and when you combine the delusions of invincibility that come with being a teenager with the almost overnight success he experienced at that age, you have a recipe for some serious trouble.
Jake became the second Paul Brother to head out to California to pursue his dream and continued to follow in the footsteps of his older sibling once he arrived. Logan had begun to abandon the wholesome content he used to make a name for himself in favor of videos marketed as “pranks,” the misnomer of choice for a genre defined by gigantic dickheads who pride themselves on dreaming up new and innovative ways to ruin the day of anyone unfortunate enough to be at the receiving end of their assholery. Jake decided to take a similar approach, and when he wasn’t on set, the kid who used to jump into a pile of snow while shirtless in pursuit of a laugh was filming whatever he’d decided to do to make life miserable for unwitting strangers on that particular day.
Of course, the internet is filled with awful people who absolutely ate that shit up, and as his fanbase (and bank account balance) continued to grow, Jake decided it was time to help other creators as he continued on his journey. As a result, anyone who wanted to join a collective with a 20-year-old who’d begun to exhibit borderline sociopathic tendencies at the helm had the chance to do so when what was dubbed “Team 10” came into the world in 2017.
Jake’s vision for Team 10 involved every member living together in a giant mansion, which was theoretically an ideal environment for breeding creativity and collaboration. In practice, however, it was an absolute shitshow. The house’s hard-partying inhabitants constantly drew the ire of surrounding residents who didn’t see the humor in the members of the squad using the neighborhood as a playground for their so-called pranks and routinely saw the streets flooded with the army of “Jake Paulers” who didn’t have much trouble tracking down the residence of their dear leader because he made the sage decision to release the address to the public.
In addition to being forced out of the house, Jake also left the House of Mouse after the media caught wind of the story, and while the official explanation for his departure from the show is that he and Disney “mutually agreed to part ways,” I’ll let you decide whether or not you want to believe that.
Thankfully, he had a fallback plan in the form of the very nice $6.9 million mansion that became the new Team 10 HQ. I would highly recommend checking out this video tour, as it’s an eye-opening look at an insanely luxurious lifestyle primarily finance by making videos on the internet and should also help you get a better grasp on Jake’s unique brand of insanity.
The scenery may have changed but his old habits made the move with him and have stayed by his side every single step of the way since then. It’s hard to keep track of all of the ways he’s managed to piss people off in recent years but I did my best to highlight the most notable incidents in the following timeline.
January 2018: The “I Lose My Virginity” Video
On January 3, 2018, Jake posted a video with then-girlfriend Erika Costell that featured a thumbnail of the duo half-naked in bed, and if you didn’t immediately jump to conclusions based on that image alone, he was nice enough to include a title to clear up any uncertainty.
There’s little doubt Jake was deliberately stirring the pot here, as the subject matter of the video and the thumbnail he went with made it very clear he’d decided to rebrand and start making the content he couldn’t when he was on a Disney Channel show targeted at young and impressionable viewers—many of whom were also subscribed to the YouTube channel this was uploaded to.
Jake eventually responded to the backlash with a masterclass in trolling that involved switching the picture to one of him and Erika fully clothed and practicing social distancing before it was cool.
What a rascal.
January 2019: The Mystery Box
The glorified slot machines known as “loot boxes” took the video game industry by storm last decade as companies raked in the dough by convincing people to shell out their hard-earned cash for the chance to win virtual prizes—including plenty of kids who no longer had to wait until they were old enough to go to a casino to succumb to a vicious gambling addiction.
In recent years, the practice has come under fire from regulators around the world (the mechanic was even banned in Belgium in 2018). However, that didn’t stop a company called Mystery Brand from getting in on the action anyway when it introduced a twist to the formula that allowed people to buy digital boxes filled with pictures of physical items they could win in real life.
In 2019, Mystery Box paid Jake to make a sponsored video in which he urged his fans to press their luck, but many people who did quickly realized not everything was on the up-and-up, as the company didn’t even own some of the prizes (including a giant mansion and several luxury cars) it used to lure people in on its website. Jake and the other influencers it paid to sing its praises unsurprisingly had good things to say about it but more than a few non-Internet Famous people claimed they were sent fake items or never received anything at all.
I for one am shocked our boy didn’t do his due diligence here. That doesn’t sound like the Jake Paul I know.
February 2020: The “Financial Freedom Movement” Venture
Jake obviously knows a thing or two about being popular, and while it’s hard to put a price on fame, he did exactly that earlier this year when he offered to provide anyone willing to shell out $19.99 a month (because Jake is business-savvy enough to know subscription services are all the rage right now) to learn how to become as cool as he is.
Ironically, the program was not very popular with many of the people who discovered the tips and tricks they unlocked after sharing their credit card information where incredibly underwhelming and Jake once again found himself under fire for promoting what many viewed as a borderline (if not outright) scam.
I can understand why people were frusturated, but at the same time, I think it’s safe to assume anyone who signed up was already pretty familiar with the personal brand of the man who created the curriculum. If you honestly believed Jake Paul had managed to stumble across the universal formula success you expected to find behind a $20 paywall, you really have no one to blame but yourself.
May 2020: Looting
At the end of May, people began to flood the streets across the United States in an attempt to call attention to police brutality and racial injustice. There were plenty of protests in California but Jake was determined to document what was going down in Scottsdale, Arizona for reasons I still haven’t really been able to grasp.
On May 30, he and a few of his goons decided to take a break from roleplaying as the documentary film crew they were masquerading as by grabbing a bite to eat at a P.F. Chang’s. They eventually saw their succulent Chinese meal interrupted by what police dubbed a “riot” that made its way into the mall where the restaurant was located and decided to join the crowd to film what was going down. Jake actually managed to exercise some restraint for the first time in his life and declined to join in on the looting but was still charged with a couple of misdemeanors for failing to leave the property after police ordered everyone to disperse.
This is the rare instance where I can’t really lay too much blame on Jake, as I think he genuinely got caught up in a situation and went wherever the flow took him. We’ve all been there. For example, when I was in high school, I told my girlfriend I was going to hang with my friends but one thing led to another and I ended up at the house of another girl I told her not to worry about. That didn’t end up with me getting charged with multiple crimes but it did leave me without a girlfriend so I think I can sort of relate.
July 2020: Throwing A Party During A Pandemic
I’m going to assume the mayor of Calabasas and the many other people who slammed Jake for throwing a giant house party with almost no masks to be found may not have been as well-acquainted with his past as the Financial Freedom Movement subscribers who got exactly what they should’ve expected when they signed up.
With that said, telling Jake he can’t throw ragers at his party mansion in the middle of a pandemic is like putting a toddler in a room containing nothing but a fork and an electrical socket and expecting a happy ending.
August 2020: Getting Raided By The FBI
Around two months after he was hit with the charges stemming from his night out on the town in Scottsdale, Jake found himself in some trouble with the law yet again when the FBI conducted a raid of his house on the morning of August 5.
It was initially unclear what Jake (who wasn’t home at the time) had done to attract the attention of a federal law enforcement agency, and while authorities seized a number of guns during the search, we still don’t know what sparked it. There’s been speculation that Jake’s manager Armani Izadi is actually at the center of whatever investigation is being conducted, who I admittedly don’t know too much about but who seems like the kind of person who would be managing a strip club if he’d never crossed paths with the man whose career he oversees (or possibly “oversaw,” as Jake responded to the raid by announcing he’s cutting ties with the “bad influences” in his life but declined to name names).
There’s no telling how this will all eventually unfold, so while I might have to update his article if we end up learning Jake is indeed the person the FBI has its eye on, those are basically all of his most infamous moments (the list would’ve been at least twice as long if I’d included the less notable ones).
Has Jake managed to do anything positive while transforming into one of the worst personalities the internet has ever spawned over the past six years? I mean, I guess. It really depends on how you want to define “positive” when you’re talking about Jake Paul, as I’d argue you could consider any actions that don’t have an actively detrimental impact on the world as a win.
I can understand why some people view his foray into hip-hop as a crime against the genre but the songs he’s put out over the years are as about as harmless as they are forgettable. By my count, he’s dropped 17 different tracks but most of them failed to get much traction—with the very notable exception of “It’s Everyday Bro.”
“It’s Everyday Bro” was Jake’s sophomore effort and took the internet by storm for the same reason viral icons like IceJJFish and the legendary Bangs did: it’s hilariously awful. Even if you take his total lack of self-awareness, the yes men he’s constantly surrounded by, and the amount of time, effort, and money that went into making that video into consideration, it’s still kind of wild he could view the final product and not come away thinking, “There’s no way I can actually release something this ridiculous.”
Well, he did, and it proceeded to rack up hundreds of millions of views and even spawned a remix featuring Gucci Mane, who apparently was not in a position to turn down any offers that came his way after getting out of prison.
None of the songs Jake has added to his catalog since then have managed to blow up like “It’s Everyday Bro” (although they’ve still been watched by an absurd number of people because he’s Jake Paul) but many of them are pretty hilarious in their own right—especially the diss tracks where he’s taken aim at:
- The teachers who correctly predicted he’d grow up to be a shithead
- The “haters” he targeted when he desecrated Eminem’s “Stan”
- The YouTube stars he addressed in a song labeled as a diss track that opens with a message that reads “This isn’t a diss track”
- His brother, who eventually hopped on another song where they squashed their beef
In July, he set his sights on KSI (the British YouTuber who’s stepped into the boxing ring with Logan on a couple of occasions) with a track called “Fresh Outta London.” I wanted to hate it, but as much as it pains me to admit this, it’s actually pretty damn good (I should note I also enjoy 6ix9ine’s music unironically so you might want to take my musical opinions with a grain of salt).
If his music doesn’t do it for you either, you might still be under the impression Jake has literally no redeeming qualities but I have one final exhibit I’d like to introduce before you officially reach that verdict: his boxing ability.
A picture of Logan is currently the top post of all-time on a subreddit devoted to faces that are just asking to be punched, and based on the comments, plenty of people would love to introduce their fist to Jake’s jaw as well. However, if any of them actually took advantage of the opportunity to do exactly that by accepting an invitation to hop into the ring with him, they’d probably have their work cut out for them.
When Logan and KSI faced off for the first time in 2018, the two of them recruited their younger siblings for an undercard that wasn’t dubbed the “Battle of the Little Brothers” but totally should’ve been. Jake’s bout with a fellow YouTuber popularly known as “Deji” marked his amateur debut and he walked away with the win after scoring a TKO in the fifth round.
That also turned out to be his only amateur fight, as he kicked off his professional career in Miami earlier this year in the week leading up to the Super Bowl by going toe-to-toe with another YouTuber hailing from the United Kingdom in the form of AnEsonGib, where he secured another TKO just 2:18 into the first round.
I don’t see Jake leaving YouTube behind to pursue a career in professional boxing at any point in the near future, but it was a pretty impressive showing when you consider it was only his second time in the ring. I assumed he’d follow it up by challenging yet another one of his internet foes to square off in a battle for YouTube superiority, but in July, he revealed his next opponent will be none other than two-time NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion Nate Robinson.
That’s arguably not even as bizarre as the circumstances surrounding the fight, as the ring it will take place in is the same one Mike Tyson and Roy Jones, Jr. will eventually enter for the main event on the card it’s apart of that’s currently scheduled for November 28th. Why? I have no idea, but it’s a thing that’s happening, and I’m actually pretty here for it.
So what have we learned here? Well, I could play armchair psychiatrist and attempt to use the information I’ve compiled to provide some insight into Jake’s psyche or maybe make some sweeping generalizations about viral fame and the personalities it tends to breed based on his rise. However, I’m not going to.
My opinion of Jake Paul as a person didn’t really change over the course of this investigation, but while conducting it, I think I finally grasped why I’m so inexplicably drawn to him and his ilk. It would be easy for me to say any hate I have for him is based solely on the ample amount of evidence I’ve compiled above, but in reality, my distaste is partially fueled by my jealousy of what he’s been able to achieve with the talent it pains me to admit he undeniably has. I feel like I’m a detective and Jake is a serial killer who’s able to outwit me at every turn. I might not like what he does but I can’t help but admire him for doing it so well.
Jake thrives on attention in any form and needs people like me who won’t rest until they figure out how people like him managed to finesse life to get where they are. I hate this existence, but at the same time, I love to hate it, and if it was taken away from me, I wouldn’t know what to do.
At the end of the day, I respect the hell out of Jake Paul despite his many, many, many faults. Would I want to hang out with him? I mean, not for that long, but his house is pretty dope and I acknowledge the hard work he’s put in to earn it. Yes, that “hard work” looks very similar to what most regular folk would call “fucking around and having fun on vacation,” but when you watch videos like this, you realize that this “perfect” existence being broadcasted to the masses isn’t as glamorous as the carefully edited depictions of it might lead you to believe.
So, kudos to not only Jake Paul but to Team 10, YouTubers, TikTok sensations, and everyone else who will use apps that haven’t even been invented yet to win the game of life in a way I did not.