I’m kind of glad there was no social media around when I was a teenager … because I was a jerk. Off the top of my head I can think of half a dozen dumb-arse things I said and did that would have got me chased off the internet today, and no I’m not going to tell you what they were. Because you’d totally chase me off the internet for them.

Most people, I’d guess, are jerks at some point or another in their lives. If they’re lucky they get to grow out of it. Nowadays, if they’re not, they get to trend for a couple of hours, and maybe lose their jobs, a bunch of friends, and whatever lives they’ve carved out for themselves.

The way that Facebook and Twitter, but especially Facebook, have become the archives of our imperfect selves and baser impulses isn’t the worst thing about them. (That would be the way they destroyed the basic consensus on what should be agreed to as a self-evident fact, allowing bad-faith actors, demagogues and actual Nazis to take a solid run kicking the legs out from under our civilisation). But no, one of the smaller, less apocalyptic ways social media has ruined everything, is by sucking all the air out of the safe space we used to afford anyone under the age of, say, 25, to really cock things up.

– John Birmingham

Read more: Why I’m Glad I Didn’t Grow Up With Social Media

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