The new global dictator – on your desk, or in your pocket

Courtesy of The Week magazine  we get this intriguing assessment of the Internet and our relationship with it from novelist, Jonathan Franzen.

Franzen detests the internet even though, like a lot of us, he uses it.

In his new book, Purity, he compares it to communist East Germany – equating it to a new form of totalitarianism.

“You can’t not have a relation to, in the case of East Germany, the socialism of the state,” he says. “In the case of the internet, you can ignore it or you can abet it. Either way, you are in a relation to it. And that’s what’s totalitarian.”

Franzen is adamant that social media is not his milieu. Novelists, he told The Sunday Times, spend years trying to get things right. “The kind of person who tweets is someone who doesn’t care about getting it right and is willing to shoot from the hip under a space constraint that doesn’t even allow a subordinate clause… People who give sustained attention to something, let themselves have a full experience and then respond to it thoughtfully – I like that kind of person better.”

The novelist has a talent for riling people, says Emma Brockes in The Guardian. He famously fell out with Oprah Winfrey in 2001, and since then has been involved in numerous spats with feminist writers who accuse him of being the beneficiary of white, male privilege. Franzen doesn’t necessarily disagree – but since he already works hard to champion female writers and to create interesting female characters, he’s not sure what he can do about it, “except die – or, I suppose, retire and never write again”.

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