The Sunday Magazine for February 7, 2021
This week on The Sunday Magazine with Piya Chattopadhyay:
How social media is threatening democracy: Not long ago, social media was hailed as an instrument of democratic revolution — a tool that allows regular people to organize and stand up against oppressive regimes. Now, though, the biggest social media platforms stand accused of subverting democracy by helping spread misinformation and hate. The issue came to a head with the January 6 assault on the United States Capitol by extremist supporters of former President Donald Trump, who was accused of inciting the violence, and kicked off Twitter and Facebook. A report prepared for the Ottawa-based Public Policy Forum last month added to the chorus calling for more regulation of the social media giants. Jameel Jaffer — a Canadian who is the executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University — was one of the contributors to that report. He argues that social media companies pose a danger to democracy not because of freedom of speech run amok, but because their business models skew the public discourse, amplifying disinformation and the most inflammatory, divisive content. And he tells Chattopadhyay why he thinks a freer exchange of ideas — including some we might find objectionable — might be a better way to go.
Entrepreneur Ron Derrickson on the key to building robust Indigenous economies: Ron Derrickson, a self-described "hunter and gatherer of business opportunities," is one of the most successful Indigenous entrepreneurs in Canada. In a new memoir, the former Chief of the Westbank First Nation tells the story of how he climbed his way out of poverty to build a fortune for himself and his community. He talks to Chattopadhyay about his journey, the importance of land to his own success — and why he thinks it is likewise key to building robust Indigenous economies ... and ultimately to paving the road to Indigenous self-determination.
Travelling While Black: In her new book, Travelling While Black, Kenyan writer Nanjala Nyabola reflects on what it means to move through a world in which you don't feel welcome. Drawing on themes of identity, belonging and place, she speaks with Chattopadhyay about how tired stereotypes can feed our fears of the other, and stop us from fully engaging in the world.
John Colapinto on the power and mystery of the human voice: Canadian journalist John Colapinto joins Chattopadhyay for a conversation about the magic and mystery of the voice. In his new book, This Is The Voice, the New Yorker writer argues that we long for and cherish the human voice because it is part of us, deeply embedded in our brains, and a primary way that we make sense of the world. It is such an intricate and advanced instrument that it almost defies logic. It is both baked into us and shaped by our culture and society. And computers are on the cusp of learning its secrets.