‘It is obscene,’ Chimamanda Adichie says on the social media cancel culture
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has written a detailed essay about the behaviour of young people on social media who she describes as “choking on sanctimony and lacking in compassion,” as part of a generation “so terrified of having the wrong opinions that they have robbed themselves of the opportunity to think, learn, and grow.”
A generation “so terrified of having the wrong opinions that they have robbed themselves of the opportunity to think, learn, and grow.”
Acclaimed Nigerian author and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie have published a reflective essay on young people on social media titled, ‘It is obscene: A true reflection in three parts” on her website. It attracted so much attention that her website temporarily crashed.
She says such people can “fluidly pontificate on Twitter about kindness but are unable to actually show kindness.”
The essay goes into her interactions with two unnamed writers who attended Adichie’s Lagos writing workshop. Both later criticised her on social media for her comments about transgender people and feminism in a 2017 Channel 4 interview, saying “a trans woman is a trans woman”.
“Of course they (transwomen) are women but in talking about feminism and gender and all of that, it’s important for us to acknowledge the differences in experience of gender,” she said in the 2017 interview. “It’s difficult for me to accept that we can then equate your experience with that of a woman who has lived from the beginning in the world as a woman; who has not been accorded those privileges that men are,” she added. The interview was met with backlash labeling her transphobic on social media, including from the subject in Adichie’s essay who she says took to Twitter to insult her.”This woman knows me enough to know that I fully support the rights of trans people and all marginalized people,” Adichie wrote.
Adichie says the second unnamed writer in her essay also took to Twitter to insult her, calling her a murderer and “actively campaigning to cancel” her following the 2017 interview.
Freshwater author, Akwaeke Emezi who identifies as non-binary acknowledged that they are one of the subjects of Adichie’s essay. “Adichie published emails from myself and another writer who was in her workshop without our consent,” they wrote on Instagram stories. Last year, Emezi posted a tweet identifying Adichie as the “prominent writer” from whom they had “lost support.” Two days after Freshwater debuted, she asked that her name be removed from my bio everywhere because of my tweets online. Most were about her transphobia,” they tweeted. They added that they would not be reading Adichie’s essay because “it was designed to incite hordes of transphobic Nigerians to target me.”
Adichie in her essay writes, “It is a simple story – you got close to a famous person, you publicly insulted the famous person to aggrandize yourself, the famous person cut you off, you sent emails and texts that were ignored, and you then decided to go on social media to peddle falsehoods”.
Adichie finishes her essay with a criticism of “certain young people today like these two from my writing workshop”, describing as “obscene” their “passionate performance of virtue that is well executed in the public space of Twitter but not in the intimate space of friendship”.
I have spoken to young people who tell me they are terrified to tweet anything, that they read and reread their tweets because they fear they will be attacked by their own. The assumption of good faith is dead. What matters is not goodness but the appearance of goodness. We are no longer human beings. We are now angels jostling to out-angel one another. God help us. It is obscene.
“I have spoken to young people who tell me they are terrified to tweet anything, that they read and reread their tweets because they fear they will be attacked by their own. The assumption of good faith is dead. What matters is not goodness but the appearance of goodness. We are no longer human beings. We are now angels jostling to out-angel one another. God help us. It is obscene.”