Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation
Is social media moving us towards a better future, or a worse one? Andrew Marantz says that we’re the ones shaping the future, not the internet: “People make hashtags trend or not trend; we need to stop waiting for the internet to shape some inevitable future and get to work.” An acclaimed New Yorker writer and TED speaker, Andrew has dedicated his career to fighting back against the spread of hate and misinformation on the internet. In his eye-opening, practical talks, Andrew draws from his book Antisocial—a New York Times Editors' Choice—to show us how to be leaders of a happier internet, where online communities can bring us together instead of keeping us apart.
“Andrew Marantz is so humane and lucid and absorbing.”— Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker
New Yorker writer and acclaimed author Andrew Marantz wants us to be smart about the way we question information on social media—and he’s teaching us how. He tackles our urgent concerns about politics, social media, technology, and censorship, and uses his expertise to discover how people form beliefs and under what circumstances those beliefs can change for the better: “We cannot just look away from hate and misinformation”, he says, “we have to try and understand it.”
Andrew’s book Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation is a deeply immersive chronicle of how Silicon Valley set out to create a free and democratic internet—and how alt-right propagandists have used it to propel their hateful beliefs: “I wanted to know who was spreading misinformation and hateful messages, and the kind of impact it was having on our society.” The book is both an exploration of human behavior—how we may not even necessarily believe the things we’re sharing online—and a call for social media companies to optimize their platforms to reward creativity and kindness over emotional engagement.
Antisocial was a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, a New York Times Notable Book, included on Fast Company’s list of books on technology you should read, and was called “funny and scary, antic and illuminating…a must-read” by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Kolbert.
Andrew is also a contributor to Radiolab and The New Yorker Radio Hour and has written for Harper's, Mother Jones, the New York Times, and many other outlets. He holds an undergraduate degree in religion from Brown University and a master's degree in literary nonfiction from New York University.
How much of your life is online? Not just your social life, but your news, entertainment, and how you form your worldview? The free and democratic internet was a beautiful dream—but now, it’s increasingly corrupted by conspiracists, contorted by propagandists and twisted into a nightmare full of trolls and the toxic alt-right. New Yorker staff writer Andrew Marantz traces how the unthinkable becomes reality: how alienated young people are easy prey, led down the rabbit hole of online radicalization; and how fringe ideas spread from festering in anonymous corners of the web, to being broadcast on cable TV.
What can we do to keep away “the gate crashers”—the white supremacists, conspiracists, and nihilist trolls who expertly use the internet to advance their poisonous agenda? Will we be able to solve the communication crisis caused by incredible advancements in technology and social media, or will our interventions be too little, too late? Marantz reveals exactly how the erasure of boundaries between technology, politics and media has resulted in the disturbing, deeply broken informational landscape we all inhabit now—and what we can do about it.