The internet

Have we all become slaves to algorithms?

Here I am, a human, recommending Kyle Chayka’s book about the negative impact of algorithms on our culture. Hopefully that will calm him down a bit, because he worries a lot, possibly far too much, at least as it seems to someone who is less online. Chayka is a staff writer at the New Yorker and he is concerned about the effect of the Filterworld, his word for the ‘network of algorithms that influence our lives today, which has had a particularly dramatic impact on culture and the ways it is distributed and consumed’. He is referring to the songs Spotify cues up, the films Netflix suggests, the stories Facebook

Savage aperçus: Fake Accounts, by Lauren Oyler, reviewed

Lauren Oyler is viral and vicious. A critic with a reputation for pulling no punches, she is known for delivering refreshingly sane judgments of overhyped, commercially successful books. She is not alone in her ruthlessness — there are a number of critics who are at least equally ferocious about deflating promotional balloons, among them Merve Emre and Christian Lorentzen — but she is the hater who makes the greatest waves on the internet. She specialises in skewering vapid writing that takes its cues from social media, and her 2020 take-down of Jia Tolentino’s popular essay collection was shared so many times that the London Review of Books website crashed in

Reality and online life clash: No One is Talking About This, by Patricia Lockwood, reviewed

Some writers — Jane Austen, for example — get to funny sideways, using irony and understatement. The American poet and essayist Patricia Lockwood isn’t one of them. She is straightforwardly hit-the-rubber-nail-on-the-head funny. There are punchlines, there are callbacks. On Twitter she is known for her zany ‘sexts’: ‘I am a living male turtleneck. You are an art teacher in winter. You put your whole head through me.’ In 2013 she went viral with her prose-poem ‘Rape Joke’, which was deliberately, powerfully not funny, yet still let in some killer laughs. (‘The rape joke it wore a goatee. A goatee.’) Her memoir Priestdaddy (2017) featured a hilarious, tender portrait of her