Novelist Chimamanda Adichie has penned a detailed essay about the conduct of young people on social media whom she says have become extremely critical and now part of a generation afraid of having wrong opinions.
The feminist’s essay titled ‘It Is Obscene’ published on Tuesday night momentarily crashed her website due to traffic.
The essay goes into Adichie’s interactions with two unnamed writers who attended her 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”.
At the time, Adichie rejected the claim that she did not believe trans women were women, saying: “Of course they 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.”
Adichie’s essay recounts how she asked for her name to be removed from the author’s biography of a novel by one of the writers.
According to her, the writer launched further attacks on social media, adding that “this person began a narrative that I had sabotaged their career”.
Last year, the non-binary transgender author Akwaeke Emezi tweeted that two days after their novel, Freshwater, was published, “[Adichie] asked that her name be removed from my bio everywhere because of my tweets online. Most were about her transphobia.”
Adichie says in her essay that “Asking that my name be removed from your biography is not sabotaging your career. It is about protecting my boundaries of what I consider acceptable in civil human behaviour.”
Adichie writes that the other writer was initially “welcomed” but also “publicly insulted” her on social media.
“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,” writes Adichie.
Concluding her essay, the author of Half of A Yellow Sun writes, “We have a generation of young people on social media so terrified of having the wrong opinions that they have robbed themselves of the opportunity to think and to learn and to grow.
“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.”