reading European social-media novels:
A DOORWAY OR A RIVER, a bad relationship or an act of violence you can’t look away from, a pet that’s also a stalker: The new subgenre of “social media novels” has found all kinds of metaphors for the experience of online communication. Some of these metaphors reassure as much as they unsettle. They suggest that life online is fundamentally similar to IRL, as intelligible as analog life—yes, okay, the more we check Twitter, the more we discover that we don’t understand other people; the more we communicate, the more we encounter our own opacity; the more we connect, the more we confront our isolation; but this is just what novels have always said about everything. Two recent European novels suggest that social media probably does make us worse—but only because we’re already the kind of bad creature that likes getting worse.
Stuffed animal sleepover by Baltimore County Public Library, via Wikimedia Commons and used under a Creative Commons license.