“It Is Obscene: A True Reflection in Three Parts” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (@chimamandareal), the award-winning Nigerian author of books including We Should All Be Feminists. She is one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People” (2015) and a MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Grant” recipient. This was sent to me by Ryan Holiday, who found it tucked away in Anne Applebaum’s piece on “The New Puritans,” which is also excellent.
Everyone should read this essay. It’s a taste of things to come on a much larger scale. Social media will breed more of this, and few people are immune.
Millions of Americans are miserable. The internet has “gotten worse” because Americans are not ok. Near-universal internet access means that there are immiserated, lonely people spending many hours a day online. The breakdown in the social fabric, climbing “prime-age” unemployment and high rates of addiction and mental illness manifest themselves in our mutually-constructed online spaces. There is a misery that wants to make itself known–to inflict itself on the world–that social media enables. We are reaping what we’ve sown; the interconnectedness enabled by the internet and the gains from open communication/cooperation cannot succeed while so many are left behind.
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