Every week I’ll be sharing what I read with you & please share with me what you are reading to inspire ✨each other and break out of our filter bubbles. What I’m reading 📖 this week: TRICK MIRROR // Want to know more? Read on!
Trick Mirror is a collection of essays by The New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino. What I really like about these essays is the cocktail of personal experiences shared by Jia, spiced up by her own journalistic research and sweetened by a dash of facts. This really serves up holistic stories on the broad range of culture related topics Jia addresses in these essays.
THE 'i' in internet
Jia hits the ground running immediately with the first essay, titled 'the I in Internet'. Jia shares her experiences on growing up with the internet, which are really recognisable when you (like me) became of age in the age of the internet. Jia feels that the magic and freedom of the internet slowly turned into a sinister storyline:
"Where we had once been free to be ourselves online, we were now chained to ourselves online and this made us self-conscious. Platforms that promised connection began inducing mass alienation."
I think many of you who are over 30 can relate to the first excitement the internet brought into your lives. You could get in contact with anyone in the world who shared the same interests and hobbies as you, instead of being the weird kid on the block. You could look up information anytime, instead of having to go to the library.
It was A-MA-ZING! ✨ But what happened? Well, according to Jia, this is what happened:
"The internet is defined by a built-in performance incentive. In real life, you can walk around living life and be visible to people. But you can't just walk around and be visible on the internet - for anyone to see you, you need to act. You have to communicate in order to maintain an internet presence. The main purpose of this communication is to make yourself look good."
It makes you reflect on your own perception and usage of the internet. Is it 'an ecosystem that runs on exploiting attention and monetising the self'? This is what Jia does to you with every of her essays: by sharing her own personal experiences in a well-written way, she makes you think twice.
We sign up to expensive Barre or Cross Fit classes and eat lunch at a fast-casual chopped-salad chain for the pragmatic self-delusion that this is THE way to optimise ourselves. 'While it is actually more about learning how to function even more efficiently within an exhausting system'. This creates an interesting vicious circle:
"The ideal chopped-salad customer is himself efficient: he needs to eat his twelve-dollar salad in ten minutes because he needs the extra time to keep functioning within the job that allows him to afford a regular twelve-dollar salad in the first place."
Jia also dives into feminism and provides a perspective on the #girlboss movement. She shows us that feminism is not about wearing t-shirts with 'the future is female', going to 'Fun Fearless Females' conferences or using #girlboss hashtags to show your individual advancement as a woman.
She argues that feminism should be much more political and about getting structural support and safety nets for women:
"We got, instead of expanded reproductive protections and equal pay and federally mandated family leave and subsidised childcare and higher minimum wage, the sort of self-congratulatory empowerment feminism that corporations can get behind, the kind that comes with merchandise,
AMBIVALANCE AS AN ANTI-DOTE
Jia says what we not always like to hear, but what we should hear anyway. She provides us with a way to look at our current culture and hands this over to us to find our own way forward. She does this by opening up herself and not giving clear-cut directions.
Want more Tolentino? Check the video below with an interview on the internet with Jia and check her articles for The New Yorker.