Earlier this week, the internet went agog following the release of an essay by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The essay was mostly about how her relationship with two Nigerian authors who were beneficiaries of the then Farafina Writing Workshop went south. She also talked about our present interaction with social media amongst other things. While I feel sad about the feud between the literary giants, I couldn’t help but notice the many remarkable quotes that call for deep reflection. They are evergreen and will remain relevant for years to come. Here’s a few of them that stuck with me:
1. When you are a public figure, people will write and say false things about you. It comes with the territory. Many of those things you brush aside. Many you ignore. The people close to you advise you that silence is best. And it often is. Sometimes, though, silence makes a lie begin to take on the shimmer of truth.
2. It is obscene to tell the world that you refused to kiss a ring when in fact there isn’t any ring at all.
3. To be famous is to be assumed to have power, which is true, but in the analysis of fame, people often ignore the vulnerability that comes with fame, and they are unable to see how others who have nothing to lose can lie and connive in order to take advantage of that fame, while not giving a single thought to the feelings and humanity of the famous person.
4. You will tell yourself that being able to parrot the latest American Feminist orthodoxy justifies your hacking at the spirit of a person who had shown you only kindness.
5. You can call your opportunism by any name, but it doesn’t make it any less of the ugly opportunism that it is.
6. If something is repeated often enough, in this age in which people do not need proof or verification to run with a story, especially a story that has outrage potential, then it can easily begin to seem true.
7. What kind of monstrous entitlement, what kind of perverse self-absorption, what utter lack of self-awareness, what unheeding heartlessness, what frightening immaturity makes a person act this way?
8. There are many social-media-savvy people who are choking on sanctimony and lacking in compassion, who can fluidly pontificate on Twitter about kindness but are unable to actually show kindness.
9. People who ask you to ‘educate’ yourself while not having actually read any books themselves, while not being able to intelligently defend their own ideological positions, because by ‘educate,’ they actually mean ‘parrot what I say, flatten all nuance, wish away complexity.’
10. People who demand that you denounce your friends for flimsy reasons in order to remain a member of the chosen puritan class.
11. People for whom friendship, and its expectations of loyalty and compassion and support, no longer matter
12. People who claim to love literature – the messy stories of our humanity – but are also monomaniacally obsessed with whatever is the prevailing ideological orthodoxy.
13. And so 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.
14. We are no longer human beings. We are now angels jostling to out-angel one another. God help us. It is obscene.
15. In this age of social media, where a story travels the world in minutes, silence sometimes means that other people can hijack your story and soon, their false version becomes the defining story about you.
16. Innuendo without fact is immoral.
17. And when you personally know a famous person, when you have experienced their humanity, when you have benefited from their kindness, and yet you are unable to extend to them the basic grace and respect that even a casual acquaintanceship deserves, then it says something fundamental about you.
18. The assumption of good faith is dead.
Have you read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s latest essay, It is Obscene? Click HERE to do so if you haven’t.
Which is your favorite quote?
Written by: Precious Obiabunmo
Edited by: Arinze Talius Dike