In Sebastian Faulks’ novel Engleby, a significant scene occurs early on, during a university interview. Faulks’ protagonist, the titular character, is the interview candidate. Engleby is a prospective student of literature; a discerning one, to his own mind. And in the course of things, he is asked to make a comparison between the writing of T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence. Engleby, an abrasive, arrogant young man, does not believe there is much to compare. Continue reading
On real mania and its imitations
A piece nominally about how social media drives people mad, or at least superficially so; but also how, instead of that madness being a product of authenticity, it is in fact just another role played by some participants, who are able to induce others into legitimate, real mania while remaining, if not detached, at least unaffected by its worst excesses.
How we communicate has changed dramatically in recent years. It is increasingly defined by the artificial world we have constructed on our phones and our computers. What is said there and, more importantly, how it is said bleeds out of the devices on which such things are displayed. Continue reading
Amid the routine chaos surrounding the Trump administration, one recent change in personnel, among many in recent weeks, stands out.
After months of rumour, always followed by denial, Donald Trump announced that John Bolton, once upon a time the American ambassador the United Nations, will shortly replace General H. R. McMaster as the president’s national security advisor. Continue reading
Review – War in 140 Characters: How Social Media Is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century by David Patrikarakos
The commercial internet changed the world. That much is conventional wisdom.
Similarly, its importance in the contemporary scene, largely in the form of social media, which features in what is termed ‘Web 2.0’, is sacrosanct.
It has altered the way billions of people communicate and has changed the nature of that communication. Its influence on politics is accepted to be vast, with some political figures practically defined by their use of one particular website: Twitter. Continue reading
The information age has, of course, brought innumerable benefits. The benisons of technology are immediately apparent and therefore do not need explaining. You know what they represent, and these benefits are a reality in many millions of lives, bringing advances and improvements almost unforeseen a generation ago into wide circulation. Continue reading
We’re all bored, we’re all so tired of everything
We wait for trains that just aren’t coming
We show off our different scarlet letters –
Trust me, mine is better
Taylor Swift, “New Romantics”
We are all bored. Well, not exactly all of us – but boredom is everywhere; being bored, which, so our mothers told us, used to mean that we ourselves were boring, seems to be more ubiquitous, more pervasive, than ever. Continue reading
David Cameron has had, by his own admission, a rough week. Under pressure from newspapers, fellow politicians and thousands of baying voices on social media, he has disclosed the extent of his investment in a hedge fund headed by his father, and the nature of his reasonably modest investment is now the stuff of frenzied and febrile speculation. Continue reading
I have always had an instinctive dislike of BuzzFeed, the new, sparky website seemingly entirely powered by faddish political opinions and years-old posts on Instagram which is more or less eviscerating traditional publishing and giving jobs to almost every journalist I can name.
Because this dislike was instinctive – because it was automatic – I decided I had better investigate the whole thing a little more. Continue reading