Thought comes before action. Words come before deeds. Media that profits from polarization will stoke it. Lies — maybe harmless for the moment, maybe even noble — create a lying world.
I’ve known this for a while. It’s why I left The New York Times. And it is why, as much as I miss doing journalism, I’ve been cautious at every next step.
Hate sells, as the journalist Matt Taibbi has convincingly argued, and as anyone looking at Twitter trending topics over the past few years can see. If Americans are buying rage, is there a real market for something that resists it?
Hate sells and hate also connects. Communities can grow quite strong around hatred of difference, and that’s exactly what’s happened to the American left and the right. It is painful to resist joining a mob when that mob includes most of your friends. It feels good, at least in the short term, to give in.
So part of my hesitation about what comes next is that I have been unsure about who will have the strength to stand apart from the various tribes that can give their members such pleasure of belonging. It is hard to know how to build things that are immune to these dangerous forces when the number of the people who are — or appear to me — immune to it is so very small