I don’t have room to list every way in which the week of April 23, 2018 was up there with the dumbest cycles of online discourse. But a newly cemented Twitter friendship between Kanye West and President Trump set the tone for everything else. As the commander-in-chief and a handful of his loyal shitposters rejoiced at seeing a famous rapper wearing the Make America Great Again hat, many more despaired. Among them was another legendary rapper, producer, executive and pop culture icon. I mean, of course, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Leprechaun in the Hood star Ice T.
The sentiment is far from unusual for social media. But when you search the rest of Ice T’s history, you find an amusing pattern. Rather frequently, he encounters a headline, sees an ad or overhears a comment to which he can only respond: “I’m done.” Previous catalysts for doneness include everything from Trump’s rumored pee tape to Iggy Azalea to the acquittal of George Zimmerman to MTV’s Teen Mom OG.
To be clear: I absolutely love this. That each “I’m done” is reliably followed by further tweets from Ice T, who also uses the platform to tangle with trolls and post photos of himself with reflective comments, bespeaks an admirable stoicism. “I’m done” is the ideal catchphrase for an era of garish unreality and an internet that perpetually renews our sense of shock. Each time we think we’ve seen it all, faced every appalling outcome and can no longer be surprised by the state of the world, history and humanity unspool some event that beggars belief. Something that makes us decide: That’s it. That’s as low as we can go.
Then, an hour later, the bottom drops out once again.
Alternatively, we might be finished off by something altogether too awesome:
Either way, we endure the impossible. As Samuel Beckett wrote in The Unnameable: “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” Online, as in actual life, these moments are relentless, unstoppable. Only in death, or deleting your account, will you ever be free of time’s cascading horror and joy. Ice T affirms, over and over, that we’ve reached our limit — that his handle is @FINALLEVEL makes his declarations of the ultimate even funnier — and still refuses to give in. Not when people say offensive shit about slavery in his mentions. Not when they confuse him with Ice Cube or put an unnecessary hyphen in his name. Not even when someone offers the opinion (a ludicrous one in his view) that media criticism is an art form. In fact, the guy is “not done” almost as often as he’s done.
What must it be like for Ice T to exist in this quantum state, done yet undone, always certain yet never resolved? I think you probably have an idea. It’s like waking up on Monday morning and willing yourself to go to work against all bodily instinct. Like logging on for another round of culture war, determined to separate genuine insight from the vast junkyard of garbage takes. Like giving a friend or lover just one more chance to make things right — the last chance after the very last. Defeat isn’t the end because there is no path to retreat; the next battle lies ahead. All you can do is count the scars.
So take a page from Ice T’s book. He knows the hustle can’t be paused whenever you need to throw your hands up. Utter “I’m done” the way he does: as a mantra of perseverance. If he can keep going, you can, too — together, upright, ready for worse.