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How do I use the internet now?
This week’s show
This week, a conversation we recorded a while ago that we’ve been impatient to share.
Ezra Klein joins Search Engine to answer a question that's increasingly confounded us: is there a sane way use the internet, now?
How do I get information about the things I care about without getting sucked into a vortex of opinion, unearned certainty, and yelling?
We make this clear in the episode’s introduction, but one of the pleasures of this show, for me, is that it gives me an excuse to talk to people I admire.
I really like Ezra’s podcast, The Ezra Klein Show. And often when I’m listening, the thought I have is just — how does this person find the time to read and think this much? So it was a treat to demand Ezra answer a series of questions about how he is managing to waste less time on the internet, and what he looks at when he, like anybody, dumbly stares at his phone.
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This episode this week may feel more like it’s about the news than it really is. We recorded it weeks before the start of the rapidly escalating tragedy in Israel and Palestine. That moment has been one that I think most people agree is not best experienced or understood through social media.
But these days what is? Sports, I guess?
How am I supposed to use the internet now? The experience of asking that question and getting a series of good answers, to me, it felt like the conversation you have with a friend that finally convinces you to make a break-up stick. A break-up with someone who maybe has always sucked, or at least, sucked for awhile.
I really used to love it here.
It felt like a place where I could learn anything, where I could meet anybody. As a kid who hid from bullies and teachers by reading paperbacks all day, the internet felt like an infinite book. Except electric. And so, more exciting. And then, later, even on the social media internet, I was sure I was in a place where I could learn. Provided I was smart, if I was discerning, if I knew how to read it.
This is a conversation about what you do if you’re not convinced that’s true anymore. I hope you get something out of it. I did.
Also, if people have been successfully negotiating new ways of using the internet, their phones, etcetera? Please feel free to share in the comments on this Substack. Also looking for: sane places on the internet that feel good. And book recommendations. Sorry if this is a bit greedy.
Reading recommendations from Ezra Klein:
Two pieces by Ezra Klein that speak to this week’s conversation:
Also, I really appreciated this short Ezra Klein Show piece this week on the conflict.
How did last week’s board meeting go?
Speaking of places on the internet that still feel fun, exciting, and full of strange possibility: the board meeting was lovely. A gaggle of our paid subscribers joined us on Zoom to ask all sorts of questions.
The Search Engine team dressed up in formalwear, we brought graphs. It was sort of a joke, and sort of not a joke. We actually did share internal data and metrics from our show, and asked board members to treat the data confidentially, which … they did? It was really cool. If you want to join the next one, consider becoming a paid subscriber!
We’ll do another one soon. We also did a post board meeting hang in this online chat space called Nowhere. It’s sort of metaverse-y, to use a currently slightly disfavored concept, but this one was charming. We were all floating heads who could jump and walk around and talk to each other. I realize what I’m talking about sounds like a dream but it did happen.
Okay, that’s all for now. See you next week,