The Source of Jake Paul’s Cringe

High school is a strange time. Such an experience that should, theoretically, be easygoing and simple, can become a reliable source of existential dread. I can’t speak for others, but based on what little I know about human beings, adults often end up looking back on their high school years–regardless of how enjoyable the experience was for them. Humans cannot help but to reflect; our lives are often at the mercy of our thoughts.

Some view this period in their lives as one filled with numerous anxieties. These feelings stem from different sources, for a variety of reasons. Whether its related to grades, being bullied, or family issues at home; daily worries permeate the lives of young people. High school can be overwhelming. For those in possession of these feelings, graduating and moving on cannot come soon enough.

The desire to start the next chapter of one’s life is not something that everyone experiences though. People are individuals after all. There are, of course, those who thoroughly enjoy their lives as high school students. Individuals of this caliber come from different walks of life. Some will inevitably be those at the top of the popularity food chain (forgive me for the cringe term); their experience is far too gratifying for them to not be hesitant about moving on.

I know enough to know that not everyone can be looped into a box, especially when it comes to matters as complex as this one. It’s obvious that this isn’t how everyone feels when they look back on the days of their youth. Everyone is different; we all have unique ways of handling the problems we face in our daily lives.

To be honest, I don’t really know where I stand when it comes to this issue. I reflect on my past often though, almost incessantly. A lot of the time when I do this, it’s accompanied with a, How did I end up here? How did my life turn out to be like this? This isn’t a daily process for me, but I have to admit–much to my chagrin–that it does happen relatively often.

This brings me to the subject at hand: Jake Paul. It’s not an exaggeration to call him a polarizing public figure. In interviews, video, social media posts, and more; he perpetuates the idea that he “is taking over the world.” Although this claim is nothing short of asinine, I can’t help but agree with him to a certain extent. His ability to draw attention and publicity for himself, of all things, is almost commendable. That’s what I’d call it, if I didn’t know any better.

My first recollection of the individual known as Jake Paul was during my high school years. It hasn’t been very long since then, but the world has changed–especially the internet. When I look at social media now, and compare it to how things were back then, it’s shocking. Though I have never used multiple social media platforms up until the past couple years, it’s blatantly obvious just how different everything is.

I can remember being 17 years old, sitting in the student lounge in between classes, scrolling through Vine on my iPhone 6. There’s no telling how much time I spent on that app during my off-time at school. To this day, I will never understand why Twitter decided to buy Vine and let it die, but that’s a story for a different day. The point is, I often saw Jake Paul’s face on there. Although I remember seeing him on there quite a bit, he was definitely outshined by his brother, Logan. In my mind, Logan was among the “Viners” who were the face of the platform–among the likes KingBach, Curtis Lepore, and others. The 6-second medium was unique, and it laid the groundwork for other platforms (i.e. TikTok) to become successful in the future.

I never kept up with any of those “Viners” after Vine died. I only had a Twitter account that I didn’t use much, so there wasn’t any reason for me to know what people like that were up to. I think it was about three years after my student lounge escapades that I had my first encounter with an ex-Viner. I was working at an after-school program for elementary school kids. One day, when the kids in my group were getting ready to watch a movie, someone began singing a tune with every fibre in his being. Being unfamiliar with the “song,” I asked what he was singing.

The kid looked me dead in the eye and said,

“It’s Everyday BROOOOOOOOO.”

I have to admit I was confused. The kid and some of his buddies begged me to look it up on my phone. I gave in. I pulled up YouTube, and when I found out who was behind the song, I was a bit taken back. It was that one kid from Vine. That one guy’s brother. I remembered him obviously, but I had no idea that he had such a massive fanbase. After all, the dude had like 10,000,000+ subscribers. Not to mention he had these three 10 year old boys where I worked up in arms about him and his music. It was rather fascinating.

As far as I can tell, at least during his “Everyday Bro” Phase, Jake was not the unlikable sleazebag that many find him to be now. Although I didn’t follow him closely at all during the height of his YouTube fame, I only remember finding his stuff pretty cringe. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that he caused any more trouble than the next guy. I legitimately viewed him as a drop in the ocean–a mere one of many YouTubers whose content is designed to cater to younger kids.

My perspective on the matter has done a complete 180 in the past year. Google-sensei tells me that Jake Paul began his “boxing career” during 2018. I guess this was the time where Logan and Jake took on two other YouTubers, KSI and Deji. I didn’t follow any of that hype or keep up with it, so none of that has any relevance in the case of how I view the guy. It has only been thanks to his past two “fights”–his Nate Robinson fight in particular–that I’ve begun to take an interest in him by taking the bait of headlines and watching the trainwreck that is Jake Paul.

Although I don’t keep up with professional sports as much as I used to, I maintain my appreciation for the games and the athletes. Though I’m more of a baseball guy, I kept up with basketball and a bit of football as well. That’s why when I heard that Nate Robinson was set for a bout with Jake Paul, the artist who created the abomination “It’s Everyday Bro”, I was very interested.

I followed the hype and build-up to Jake’s fight with Nate Robinson. I honestly couldn’t believe that the two of them were fighting. I remember Nate well from his time with the New York Knicks. He was one of the smaller guys in the NBA during his career, somewhere around 5’9″ in a league where the average height is 6’7″ (with shoes on). What I remember most about Nate was his runs in the Slam Dunk Contest. He won three of them. The most by any player in NBA History.

Prior to Nate accepting the fight, Jake’s character was constantly put on display. I remember some of my friends posting about the upcoming fight, along with the growing social media phenomenon that was the Robinson & Paul fight. This helped me stay up-to-date with the event, I suppose. Before seeing all of his antics, tweets, and videos from the past year; I was only under the impression that Jake Paul was a cringey YouTuber who got famous on Vine Thanks to his self-proclaimed “taking over the world,” I’ve grown increasingly aware of his arrogance.

It’s difficult to articulate, but Jake’s entire essence is the perfect recipe for causing onlookers to cringe. The reasons for this are seemingly endless, in my opinion, but they probably begin somewhere with his initial rise to YouTube stardom.

After a bit of research, I now realize that his YouTube career wasn’t exactly as harmless of a cringefest as I first thought it was. The entire demographic that his channel originally catered to was young kids. I won’t look down on those who decide to take that route, but there is an innate sense of responsibility that comes with that. Without going to much into detail, the basis of his YouTube “content” boils down to vlogging cheap “pranks” or smug situations that are exaggerated by clickbait thumbnails and titles. Also, he promotes his merch. So, there’s that.

I mean absolutely no disrespect to him. I only wish the best for everyone, and this includes Jake Paul. Be that as it may, it’s difficult to sympathize with others when they seem to go out of their way to make others hate them. This is exactly what Jake has been going around doing since news of the Nate Robinson fight became public, and some time before that as well. Jake knocking out the NBA phenom only helped escalate his tomfoolery.

I am unable to discern how much of what Jake Paul does is genuine and how much of it is a persona, one created for the sake of fight promotion and drawing in a crowd. I can’t help but believe that the “Jake Paul” that we see is the authentic Jake—who he is in this present moment in time. I’m sure that some of what he does is amplified to a certain extent, for the sake of upping the stakes, but the majority of it has to be because that’s just who he is.

Jake Paul’s upcoming fight with Ben Askren is a different animal. His previous fights having only been against “YouTubers” and a former NBA player, this will be something Jake has never done. Literally. He’s never been in a “professional” fight with another person who is an actual fighter. Askren, a retired MMA title holder and 2-time NCAA National Champion wrestler, accepted the fight after Jake went on a rant calling out a bunch of different individuals. Although I do think Jake has progressed as a fighter and developed some legitimate boxing skill, this fight is not the walk in the park that he is accustomed to. Needless to say, there is ton of hype surrounding this April 17th event.

an edit I made and uploaded to YouTube

I don’t feel like it’s out of the question to state that many, myself included, are looking forward to seeing Jake’s face hit the pavement. There are others who are looking for the opposite to take place, fans of Jake’s who are rooting for him to succeed and continue to take his boxing career to the next level. This has to be the minority though. In an ideal world, Jake would take the L in this fight and be humbled. After that, he’d become motivated and take the high route by putting his axe to the grinder and would experience internal & external growth. One can only hope.

I can’t really put my finger on what exactly it is about Jake Paul that intrigues me. Part of that fascination probably stems from the fact that he and I are about the same age. He’s two months older than me, yet I honestly cannot picture a scenario where I’d be tempted to behave like he does—especially on such a grand scale. Like I said earlier, I almost find it admirable that he is able to attract such a negative energy and response toward himself. His behavior is a catalyst for cringe and hate comments.

I look up to people that don’t care how others view them. Everyone, at least to a certain extent, cares about the perspective of others. It’s difficult to separate this completely from a human being. It’s part of our make-up as humans, to be aware of how others look at us. Every once in a while though, there are extraordinary people that are able to separate themselves further than most. These rare individuals seem like they are distinct, almost as though they have overcome the weight of others’ opinions.

I don’t find Jake Paul to be one of those rare individuals. I know that in his videos and social media posts, he states that he doesn’t care what other people think about him, but that’s essentially an oxymoron. If you have to tell people something like that, chances are, it’s not actually true. Growing up, my dad always told me “Don’t you ever brag about anything. Let others do the bragging.” At this point in my life I don’t have anything to brag about, but I’ve always taken this advice of my dad’s to heart. Its application is essential.

In my eyes, Jake Paul is the antithesis of humility. In the videos and interviews I’ve seen him in, he reminds me of something between a high school bully and a raging, inarticulate 8 year old. It’s strange to see how much things have changed since I first saw him on Vine. Everything is different about him, yet that’s the same for me I guess. We all are always changing.

Witnessing the evolution of Jake Paul is…well…it’s something. I admittedly make fun of the guy at times because it makes me feel better about my own issues. Yet, at the same time, seeing him [d]evolve makes me sad. Lowkey.

I don’t exactly take pride in anything, but Jake Paul is from the same generation as myself. I don’t harbor judgement of any kind, but he honestly seems like he’s going off the deep end. I don’t have room to talk; I’ve found that that’s part of the problem. The two of us both have a case of arrested development, similar to many young men of our time. Jake’s inability to come to terms with his own insecurities before the entire “world,” causes me to take a harder look at my own anxieties.

My genuine hope is that Jake is humbled on the 17th of April. Yes, I want him to lose for the same reasons that everyone else does.

Do I think he’s unjustifiably cocky?

Yes.

Do I think he’s an idiot?

Yeah, kinda.

Do I think he’s cringe?

Absolutely.

I also hope that Jake loses this upcoming fight for his own sake. My gut feeling is that some day he’s gonna wake up and wonder How did I end up here? This is my sincere hope. The sooner that happens, the better.

Although I don’t have room to talk, Jake really needs a wake-up call. If I see one more thing from him about how much of a badass he is, I’m gonna go into a cringe-induced coma. I’d much rather see him go down and make a 180° transformation. I wouldn’t mind seeing the guy bounce back from a loss by going on to grow as both a person and boxer. I’d be fine with that.

After all, I enjoy a story with good character development.

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