The Atlantic

Social-Media Outrage Is Collapsing Our Worlds

The internet once made it easier to slip from one domain to another. Is there a way to preserve that vital freedom?
Source: Satish Kumar Subramani / Reuters

Has the internet afforded humans more freedom, or less?

That’s a question I’m pondering anew thanks to the University of Michigan philosophy professor Elizabeth Anderson, who provoked the thought while being interviewed by Nathan Heller for a recent profile in The New Yorker.

After Europe’s religious wars, Anderson mused, as centuries of conflicts between Catholics and Protestants gave way to a liberal, live-and-let-live order that tolerated freedom of religion, something remarkable happened:

People now have the freedom to have crosscutting identities in different domains. At church, I’m one thing. At work, I’m something else. I’m something else at home or with my friends. The ability not to have an identity that one carrieswhat it is to be free.

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