“In The Privacy Of My Heart And Mind” – Zadie Smith says using social media would threaten her writing


Zadie Smith has spoken of how staying away from social media gives her “the right to be wrong” without fearing other people’s reactions, saying that if she knew readers’ reactions to her work, she wouldn’t be able to write.

At a live event with the New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino in New York, the British novelist said: “Because I’m not on Twitter, I’m not on Instagram, I’m not on the internet, I never hear people shouting at me.”

Giving her analysis of how discussions play out on social media, Smith said: “I have seen on Twitter, I’ve seen it at a distance, people have a feeling at 9am quite strongly, and then by 11 have been shouted out of it and can have a completely opposite feeling four hours later. That part, I find really unfortunate.

“I want to have my feeling, even if it’s wrong, even if it’s inappropriate, express it to myself in the privacy of my heart and my mind. I don’t want to be bullied out of it,” she said, according to a report of the event by the Huffington Post.

The award-winning author of novels including White Teeth and Swing Time is not the only writer to stay away from social media. Jonathan Franzen has made clear in the past his feelings on the issue, while Salman Rushdie recently quit Twitter, telling the Guardian: “I began to really dislike the tone of voice of Twitter. This kind of snarky, discourteous, increasingly aggressive tone of voice. I just thought, ‘I don’t like this.’ These people would not speak like this if they were sitting in a room with you. I had planned to stop earlier and then it was the election campaign and I got into it, and the last thing I tweeted was this pathetic tweet, having just voted: “Looking forward to President Hillary” … after which total silence. And I thought, just stop, and I did and I haven’t missed it for one second.”

– image and excerpt from ‘Zadie Smith says using social media would threaten her writing’, Alison Flood, The Guardian, 21 Sep 2017

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