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George Saunders thinks you should get off social media.

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January 4, 2021, 12:07pm

It’s only four days into 2021 and the Internet has united around its hatred of a guy named “Bean Dad.” If you feel your brain being battered and smoothed by the tide of social media (like me) and are thinking of doing a New Year’s detox (unlike me), let George Saunders give you that final push. In an interview with The Guardian, the Tenth of December author weighed in on the poisonous nature of social media:

There’s something wonderful about the spontaneity of social media, but I think at this point it’s becoming 100% toxic for people to be firing off the top of their brains. One of the things [the book I’m writing] says is that the deeper parts of our brain are actually more empathic. If you revise something 20 times, for a mysterious reason, it becomes more social, empathic and compassionate. With Chekhov, you feel he’s always saying: “Well, what else?”, “Is there anything else I should know?”, or “Maybe I’m wrong.” And all of that seems to be designed to foster love, or at least some kind of relation to the other that’s got possibility. So I’m not a fan of social media. I’m not on it. And I won’t be, because I think it’s killing us, actually. I really do.

Shallow thinking? Adversarial communication? Sounds about right. But Saunders has a more targeted reason to be off social media than most: he’s been writing a book based on his creative writing teaching, analyzing the craft of short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is available for preorder now—that’s at least a couple hours to spend away from Twitter.

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