“Like” This Essay: The Case Against Social Media – Quillette
When asked where he was from, the Greek philosopher Diogenes replied “I am a citizen of the world.” A jolly sentiment, yes, and one that is well suited for our age, when digital interconnectedness can be harnessed to a universal ethics.
At first glance, social media is a useful means to bring about such a world, but the second glance has a more disheartening effect: one can’t avoid the competitive nastiness, the cries of execration, the trolling and bullying. Diogenes, too, often sounded better in theory than in practice. Against his name there are some fairly credible charges of spirited public masturbation as well as a rumour of his urinating on philosophical detractors. He would have been great on Twitter.
A stirring cosmopolitanism must remain the goal, but I doubt that social media will take us there. It has become a swamp in which tribalism and identity politics suppurate and stink, but never die. It is where one declaims a different and sectarian kind of belonging in the world, more along the lines of “I am a citizen of the gender-bendered, panromantic-demisexual, queer-on-the-second-Tuesday-of-the-month community, ya gotta problem with that, ya fascist?”