How Lauren Oyler Captured the New Brooklyn Guy

I read a piece in the Times about how the FBI is going to build the cases against people who rioted at the Capitol a couple of weeks ago, and one of the participants in this Facebook page was actually a longtime informant. Felix’s account probably would have become FBI evidence of the conspiracy to overthrow the government.

There’s something that I’m proud about with the book, which is that he clearly gets bored with the conspiracy theories quite quickly and has to do something else. He just sort of abandoned them, “I’m done with this, I’m doing something else.” And there’s a line I have, something like, “Well, he’s not doing anything to do with children. So he must have ethics around his conspiracy theory memes, right?” He’s not doing PizzaGate, he’s not doing Sandy Hook.

The protagonist definitely wants [Felix] to not be a true force for evil in American society. Even though she’s extremely nihilistic and doesn’t care about politics, you can tell that she tries to care about politics, but she can bring herself to get worked up about it either.

Do you think social media is evil?

I mean, I think no. I try not to be like, I wish it never existed. [But] I often feel like, Oh, I wish it never existed; my life would be better. Lots of people’s lives would be better. But it’s just a technology that we made. It doesn’t have a morality. We do things with it. It’s not doing something to us.

There was a time, too, in which people were using the internet in a more optimistic way than you describe—I’m thinking about the early years of online dating.

I think people still use the internet in this hopeful way. I think probably even my use of Twitter, as evil as it is, there’s some element of hoping that something truly good comes out of it.

Do you think men are more dangerous social media users than women, or maybe users of the internet?

In terms of their lasting effects on society or like the broader—like men are more likely to kill someone?

I guess more in terms of the lasting effects on society.

I think [men] definitely do use it differently. I don’t know who’s more dangerous on my internet. At least it seems like the women are much more powerful in terms of dictating the rules for social engagement. I could imagine that on someone else’s internet, it would not be that way, but I am always sort of fascinated by like female social cliquishness, which has been very interesting to watch on social media, particularly during quarantine when there will be these like bursts of drama in various social scenes that I have access to. But I think men and women are equally given to being like petty and dramatic babies too. What do you think?

Maybe this is my internet, but I see so much criticism of influencer culture and very little introspection about Reddit and the way that men congregate on and use Reddit to discuss politics and clothing.

And bodybuilding. I find the criticism of influencers really boring. I also find criticism of girl bosses very boring. It’s extremely obvious. It seems rote, like we have the responsibility, whenever an influencer does something stupid, to write at least one take about it because we understand this to be a harmful element for women or whatever. I agree with you that there are a lot of other things that we could be spending our time thinking about that are causing more havoc on society other than influencers.

How are you going to feel if you get a bad review?

It’s an obvious question—every single person has asked me this, so I’m fully prepared for it. I mean, a really good idea would be to get Jia [Tolentino] to do it, or to get one of my ex- boyfriends. But honestly, I don’t want a bad review. I would prefer to have only positive reviews and everyone being like, she’s a genius, like the great American novel has finally arrived. That is my preference, on the record.

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