Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie decries the effects of social media on society

·2-min read

Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says social media has created a “very shallow, hollow outrage culture”.

The Nigerian writer, whose works include Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah, said it was important people realised human nature made them inherently “flawed”.

Appearing on BBC Two’s Inside Culture, Adichie told host Dame Mary Beard that this “flawedness” was integral to her work, which has been celebrated by Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama visits UK
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in conversation with Michelle Obama (Yui Mok/PA)

She said: “Social media has given rise to a very shallow, hollow outrage culture.

“I think we need to recognise we’re flawed, we really are, and I think in some ways it’s the essence of literature and storytelling – that ‘flawedness’ of human nature.”

Adichie, 43, called for people to show more compassion and loyalty on social media.

She added: “I feel as though right now with social media, there’s a kind of performance that is really what is important.

“So somebody says something that’s somehow outside of the accepted orthodoxy, and suddenly that person’s friends are all being asked to denounce that person, and I’m thinking: whatever happened to basic old-fashioned ideas of ‘you’re my friend and I’m going to stand by you’?

Mary Beard interview
Dame Mary Beard (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“You know, loyalty – I’m going to have a bit of compassion for you. I’m going to think you were maybe just having a bad day – you know, one is allowed to have a bad day.”

Adichie said social media had created a “hardness in the culture” about how people talk about political and social subjects.

She added: “It worries me because I find it to be lacking in compassion and also I find it quite uninteresting.”

The conversation also saw Adichie reflect on the death of her father, which she writes about in her most recent book Notes on Grief, as well as feminism and literature.

Inside Culture sees broadcaster and historian Dame Mary, 66, joined by a range of famous figures.

The episode airs on BBC Two on Friday June 18 at 7.30pm.

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