Her communication helped kickoff Humanities Week on Grounds, a student-led series of talks and activities presented via UVA’s Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures. This year’s theme is “Log In,” and each speaker explores how digital and social media affect our lives. (You can find a full schedule of Humanities Week events here.)
Tolentino, who graduated in 2009 with tiers in English and political and social concept, served within the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan after commencement, earned an M.F.A. In fiction at the University of Michigan, and have become the deputy editor at Jezebel earlier than joining The New Yorker. She will put up her first e-book, an essay series referred to as “Trick Mirror,” in August.
We spoke with her Tuesday to study greater approximately her paintings for The New Yorker, her mind on how the internet is affecting life and politics, and her recommendation for college students interested in journalism.
Q. You write on a big sort of subjects. How do you locate your next subject?
A. It’s truly great so that it will write approximately such a lot of different things, and I am sincerely lucky to have the liberty to be so wide-ranging. It may be hard to maintain up with the accelerating speed and demand for online writing. If I became only writing approximately politics or handiest writing ebook evaluations, I don’t think I might be able to write as nicely, as regularly as I do.
So, I, in reality, prize, value, and want to write down about various things and to put in writing with specific stages of seriousness. Mostly, I can write approximately something I am simply considering or focused on. I generally tend to have tunnel imaginative and prescient. I suppose and write approximately something exclusively, after which after I record that tale, I flip to the next factor.
Q. What are you curious about proper now?
A. I was questioning a lot approximately the internet, because of this communication at UVA and because of remarkable books: “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy,” with the aid of Jenny Odell, and “Digital Minimalism,” through Cal Newport.
Q. You mentioned some of the dangerous internet impacts on our sense of self for your talk. What do you notice as the maximum adverse effect proper now?
A. I am really concerned about things. First, I assume an economic system constructed around human identification is just a nightmare scenario. Every essential tech platform monetizes something that should no longer without problems be monetized – our identity and how we view ourselves – and it’s so corrosive.
In addition, those structures retain our interest by escalating an emotional response, which normally means anger. Their capacity to make an income is tied to the need to trigger those heightened emotional responses in users, destroying the civic fabric of our USA.
Q. Do you try to push back towards that harm whilst producing stories for the net? How?
A. I suppose most of the people who work online have little approaches that we work to undercut a number of those consequences, or write directly into the worst things approximately the medium that we work in. And there may be obvious starvation for that pushback. People nevertheless like to read long-form testimonies; they like podcasts that required sustained attention; they want something with greater substance.
Still, it feels a piece like plugging a tiny hollow in a large dam because all of those online platforms – like Twitter or Facebook – can co-choose and take advantage of any resistance. Even in this case, your critique is getting shared, and it’s getting shared on the systems themselves.
Q. How do you slight your personal intake of information and media?
A. In my non-public existence and online presence, I try and be as unprofessional as I can without being absolutely unprofessional. I show flaws online; I permit myself to be inconsistent. I use apps like Freedom to block websites or restrict the time I spend on them. Over the beyond a month, I actually have blocked social media totally for a piece I am writing, and that absence of steady noise has been quite startling.
I have additionally been wondering loads about how my attention span has changed considering the fact that university. I graduated properly earlier than the smartphone. It’s rewarding. I virtually prize my capability to focus. It is a valuable gift that I would really like to hold.
Q. How do you cope with the backlash that comes with writing for an outstanding online platform?
A. The worst harassment I was given become at Jezebel, and I had many colleagues who had it a great deal worse. Many of our political reporters have been Jewish and were given consistent, insanely anti-Semitic harassment or felt so threatened that they had to go away from their houses. That has not happened to me, but; however I do get quite a few extra informal harassments.
I even have thick pores and skin, which has helped me to address things. I also recognize that real complaint – stating after I made a mistake – can and need to hurt, and I can study from it. I mute a number of humans on Twitter. If it’s a truly terrible comment, I would possibly screenshot it and tweet it simply to diffuse its chunk load. I attempt not to do this too much, as it offers them too much interest.