Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith Says Social Media Robs People of the ‘Right to Be Wrong’

Winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Guardian First Book Award, among other high profile accolades, author extraordinaire Zadie Smith steers clear of social media. 


Speaking to New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino, Smith said, ‘because I’m not on Twitter, I’m not on Instagram, I’m not on the internet, I never hear people shouting at me.’


zadie smith

Zadie Smith: does not tweet / Image Via The Telegraph


The Huffington Post quoted Smith as going on to say: 


I have seen on Twitter, I’ve seen it at a distance, people have a feeling at 9am quite strongly, and then by 11 have been shouted out of it and can have a completely opposite feeling four hours later. That part, I find really unfortunate. I want to have my feeling, even if it’s wrong, even if it’s inappropriate, express it to myself in the privacy of my heart and my mind. I don’t want to be bullied out of it.


Referring to her much discussed essay on the film Get Out (2017) and the painting Open Casket, Smith said “I understand it’s important to be appropriate in public life, in social life, in political life. But in your soul? No, this is a different thing.”


We “should be able to retain the right to be wrong,” the novelist said, adding: “I’m wrong almost all the time. It’s OK to be wrong. It really is OK, you just have to sit in the feeling and deal with it. I never feel that certain in the first place, so this kind of succession of mistakes is just what I call my novels.’


Swing Time

Smith’s newest novel Swing Time / Image Via Amazon


While Smith feels she couldn’t write were she constantly witnessing and engaging with the public’s reaction to her work, other authors feel differently. J. K. Rowling is, at this stage, almost as famous for her tweets as for her books (okay, not quite but they’re pretty famous), while Philip Pullman, Bret Easton Ellis, and John Green are all notable for their social media presence. 


Smith may not be active on these forums, but if you’re hungry for more Zadie between novels, she frequently writes for Harper’s Magazine, The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books.


Featured Image Via Stylist