Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Bari Weiss and Eve Peyser

They scheduled a meet-up to see if they could get along in real life.

At NYT, "Can You Like the Person You Love to Hate?"

BARI WEISS: Everything sucks. That’s the overwhelming feeling I get when I spend too much time on Twitter. It makes me feel anxious and angry and amped up. And that’s on a day when I’m not even trending as a Very Bad Person.

This fall I read Jaron Lanier’s book “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.” He helped me see that these feelings were the inevitable result of being manipulated by this behavioral modification machine.

I didn’t delete my account — yet! I know! I am full of shame! — but I did change the way I use it (no looking at my mentions; far less tweeting; aiming to highlight the work of people I like rather than criticize the work of those I don’t). It also made me think about how I saw other Twitter users, like Vice’s Eve Peyser. She was clever and often funny — and I disagreed with her about just about everything. Sometimes she jabbed at me. I watched her posts with a suspicious side-eye.

But I wondered: If we had met at a dinner party rather than on Twitter, would we have liked each other? Was social media, as Mr. Lanier’s book suggested, creating a sense of intense conflict where there might be intense conversation? Did we actually dislike each other, or was Twitter just making us think we did?

This is the story of how we went from being enemies to friends.

EVE PEYSER: In the woke world of New York digital media, the worst person in the world is Donald Trump, but you, Bari Weiss, are a close second. You’re the perfect target for media leftists because you look like you’d be one of us, but in fact, you have contrarian views on subjects like Israel and #MeToo.

Hating you was the natural position for me to adopt. After all, I’m a social democrat who eagerly voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries and has contemplated purchasing a “Free Palestine” T-shirt.

So I proceeded as one does these days: tsk-tsking various columns of yours, occasionally snarking about you on Twitter, and ascribing to the belief that The New York Times’s decision to hire you was most likely bad for America and the future of liberal democracy.

But I always had this nagging feeling that the Bari Weiss cyber outrage was overblown. Then, we became friends, and every tender thought I’d had about you was confirmed...
I doubt anything remotely like this would happen to me in real life. One exception: My students. I cut them slack because they're young, and of course I try to teach down the middle ---- on the one hand, and on the other hand ---- except for those times I just come out and show a Prager University video, or something, and I don't even tell them it's a conservative production. Students have to figure it out. Sometimes I even criticize President Trump from the left, and it confuses them, lol.

But keep reading.