This article originally appeared on VICE US.
Here's a very 2020 sentence: a gang war between purple and green aliens is taking over GTA5 Online, and the memes about it are the hottest thing on TikTok.
GTA Online's extraterrestrial gang war has been entirely player directed. In late April, players started dressing up as green aliens, and then surprising other players with beatdowns. Now it appears that a rival gang, dressed as purple aliens, are going after the green aliens, causing an alien gang rivalry. The annals of this gang war are being documented on TikTok, usually accompanied by the music of snitch and dummy who picked a fight with Chief Keef, Tekashi 6ix9ine.
It's not all that dissimilar from the ways that teenagers play act at being grown on the internet. It's why teenagers pose with BB guns on social media, or post pictures of guns that aren't theirs: social media is where you build a persona, and when you're a teenager, the persona of being tough is appealing. The white vans, the "gangster" music that soundtrack the videos, the baseball bats are all signifiers of a Los Angeles gangland that never existed, but which Grand Theft Auto luxuriates in. These players are trying on a persona, one that this game is particularly suited to. Except you don't have to be nervous about getting a visit from the cops for posting about green and purple aliens.