By Mack Liederman
June 9, 2019
What is going on with Dennis Rodman? Why do I spend so much time on the internet?
These are questions I ask myself often, oddly in direct succession, when I’m on the internet, looking at Dennis Rodman’s highly questionable Instagram page.
Through my attempts to pause the hands of time, locked in an apathetic stare at my phone screen, I have become far too familiar with Rodman’s social media persona. In a general sense, I think every diehard, nostalgic NBA fan has gotten to know Rodman a little too well.
The bruising, rebound-swallowing, rainbow-haired oddball has led an infamously public post-playing career. In his days since being the NBA’s preeminent glue guy, Rodman has pierced every fatty tissue in his body, attempted to marry himself and, maybe most notably, gone from fist-bumping Michael Jordan to bear-hugging Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.
After all this success, Rodman’s most logical progression was to become a full-time internet troll. Joining a rapidly deepening basketball internet culture, Rodman has found a fitting medium to channel his eccentricity.
Rudimentary trolling for Rodman has taken some downright weird and twisted turns from the get-go. In a dating show podcast advertised on his Instagram, “On the Rebound,” Rodman takes the stance of a perverted Yoda, sitting across the table from millennials and Gen-Zers as he imparts X-rated advice on contemporary hook-up culture. In another string of posts, the retired Hall-of-Famer seeks a personal intern, using a swipe-up Google form that is quite simply a series of multiple-choice questions. For one of his more consistent acts, Rodman offers up grammatically atrocious captions, capitalizing every word by gifting it its own sentence.
Rodman’s signature move, however, is the blank post. Seemingly defying the rules of Instagram, Rodman has been able to post blank comments on just about every routine highlight reel posted to the pages of Instagram. Old-man LeBron dunking on a young dude in traffic? Dennis says “who cares?”—blank post. Giannis Antetokounmpo prancing through the lane with gazelle-like steps for a freakishly athletic slam? Whatever—blank post. Former teammate Michael Jordan elevating and turning for a perfectly executed fade-away jump shot on a TBT? Rodman has nothing to say about that—blank post.
Building off of this portfolio, Rodman recently set out for his magnum opus prank, publicizing the threat that he was “Leaving. Instagram. Soon,” which he claimed would culminate in him deleting his account after a special surprise video revealed his “Big. Secret.” In the widely anticipated 40-second clip, Rodman held up a series of cards with big, black lettering, dropping one after another in a suspense-filled spectacle: “I Want To Get Something Off My Chest,” “Something That’s Bothered Me For A Very Long Time.” The final card: none other than a complete blank.
It is mind-boggling that Rodman garnered so much attention from producing, well, literally nothing. But perhaps the rebounding machine is onto something. Rodman has poked and prodded at his followers’ inner psyche, exposing their desire to turn that nothing into something. The internet is a cruel tempest, as even the silliest or emptiest of posts becomes subject to a million different interpretations and overreactions. For the more eccentric of personalities, the outgoing and easy targets, the internet is even less forgiving.
Rodman’s antics, both during his career and now after it, are a spectacle designed for reproduction in the digital age. And when one becomes fully online, crossing the boundary from person to object or symbol, it’s hard to maintain a grounding in reality—not that Rodman seemed to have much of one to begin with.
Rodman’s wacky, unpinnable persona is our addiction, a puzzle for us to try to make sense of, and ultimately, a troll of our own creation. Through the thousands of comments, shares and retweets to Rodman’s blank comments, the collective hive-mind of the internet shows its bloody fingerprint in incentivizing his reckless character.
So, in the end, the internet has given Rodman the attention that he has so explicitly craved. Good for him. Dennis, wherever you are right now, I hope you see this, and I hope you are commenting something ridiculous below.
(Images courtesy of Dennis Rodman’s Instagram)