Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid | It’s not just a phase. | By Jonathan Haidt | Illustrations by Nicolás Ortega | The Atlantic | April 11, 2022
hat would it have been like to live in Babel in the days after its destruction? In the Book of Genesis, we are told that the descendants of Noah built a great city in the land of Shinar. They built a tower “with its top in the heavens” to “make a name” for themselves. God was offended by the hubris of humanity and said:
Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.
Yes, Social Media Really Is Undermining Democracy | Despite what Meta has to say. | By Jonathan Haidt | The Atlantic | July 28, 2022
ithin the past 15 years, social media has insinuated itself into American life more deeply than food-delivery apps into our diets and microplastics into our bloodstreams. Look at stories about conflict, and it’s often lurking in the background. Recent articles on the rising dysfunction within progressive organizations point to the role of Twitter, Slack, and other platforms in prompting “endless and sprawling internal microbattles,” as The Intercept’s Ryan Grim put it, referring to the ACLU. At a far higher level of conflict, the congressional hearings about the January 6 insurrection show us how Donald Trump’s tweets summoned the mob to Washington and aimed it at the vice president. Far-right groups then used a variety of platforms to coordinate and carry out the attack.
What Can We Do to Make Things Better?
… all of us, as individuals, can be part of the solution by choosing to act with courage, moderation, and compassion.
Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist at the New York University Stern School of Business. He is the co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind, which originated as a September 2015 Atlantic story, and he is currently writing Life After Babel: Adapting to a World We Can No Longer Share.