July 20, 2024
On cue, Twitter demonstrates the thesis of my new book.
As my book argues, people do not go to social media hoping to learn things about the world. They go to social media hoping that attention will be paid to them. That’s what social media is: a sad, sprawling bazaar in which attention is exchanged and bartered.
As my book argues, people do not go to social media hoping to learn things about the world. They go to social media hoping that attention will be paid to them. That’s what social media is: a sad, sprawling bazaar in which attention is exchanged and bartered.

As you may be aware thanks to my merciless flogging of it, I have a new book out called The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics. It is about the way in which social media brings out the worst of the tribalism and idiocy in our contemporary politics by displacing almost all of the substantive discussion with a lobotomized — and, ultimately, useless — politics of white hats and black hats, good guys and bad guys, cowboys and Indians, Us and Them.

I enjoy writing books. I enjoy promoting them less. But we have had some fun with this one. On the back cover, where you’ll usually find blurbs praising the author to the moon, we have some more-critical assessments: “Truly reprehensible,” Paul Krugman, New York Times; “Shocking and brutal,” Ruth Marcus, Washington Post; “An ogre,” Jack Shafer, Politico. Because I have been asked: No, those are not made up. Neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post has reviewed the book, though both newspapers have taken an occasional energetic interest in my career, but you can read reviews here and here, and I will share others as they come; there are excerpts in the July 29 issue of National Review, in the July 18 edition of the Washington Examiner, and in today’s New York Post.

And, naturally, I’ve been doing a lot (for me, anyway) of radio and television interviews.

Television may be a dinosaur in the Internet epoch, but a dinosaur is a very big thing, and television is a mighty if doddering T. rex. Its power may be somewhat diminished both by division (the weird thing is that 10,000 television channels today collectively wield less power than three did before cable) and by multiplication (of competing media sources) but it still has an enormous cultural footprint. The cultural largeness of television compared to the written word can be a little bit depressing for a writer. I have produced a few books and dozens of cover stories (and I suppose thousands of online columns) for National Review, I write a regular column in the New York Post, and I have published articles everywhere from the Washington Post to Playboy (which would prefer to forget that ever happened) and The Atlantic (which would very much like to forget that ever happened). But after a two-minute hit on a cable-news program, I’ll get emails from people I went to kindergarten with, along with (de gustibus, etc.) the occasional romantic proposition.

And less friendly forms of communication, too.

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