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Our online behaviour is “obscene” 

Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images

I find the way young people use social media “obscene”, says bestselling Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in an essay on her website. Social media-savvy people “fluidly pontificate on Twitter about kindness”, but fail to show any in everyday life. They wield the words “violence” and “weaponise” like tarnished pitchforks, with monstrous entitlement and self-absorption. They demand that you “denounce your friends for flimsy reasons”, or recant your opinions, to remain a member of “the chosen puritan class”.

What I find increasingly troubling is certain young people’s “cold-blooded grasping, a hunger to take and take and never give”. I speak to young people all the time who are “so terrified of having the wrong opinions that they have robbed themselves of the opportunity to think and to learn and to grow”. The assumption of good faith is dead. A “Bright Young Nigerian Feminist” came to my Lagos writing workshop years ago, and I took her under my wing. The next thing I knew, she was attacking me online for a 2017 interview “in which I said that a trans woman is a trans woman”. I was called a “murderer”. My wider point was that we should be able to acknowledge difference while being fully inclusive – that “the whole premise of inclusiveness is difference”. But Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it, as Jonathan Swift wrote. “God help us.” 

Read the essay here.