Does quitting social media make you happier? Yes, say young people doing it3 days ago
Teenagers and young adults switching off from Facebook and other social apps reveal how the change has affected their lives
Our love of social media seems to have grown and grown in the past decade, but recent studies show the tide may be turning for some platforms, with young people in particular ditching Facebook. One study claims that more than 11 million teenagers left Facebook between 2011 and 2014. Its been argued that they are swapping public platforms such as Twitter and Instagram for more private messaging apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat.
We asked the Guardians younger readers whether they have quit social media and why, as well as what apps they are ditching. Almost all reported a greater sense of happiness after going offline. Here, we share some of their experiences.
Daisy, 23, Manchester: I feel less anxious and less like a failure
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Elena Ferrante: ‘Dreaming of a return to the past is a denial of youth’5 days ago
I love young people who fight to give their time a new form and demand a better life for the entire human race
I very much like recognising myself in my daughters and, at the same time, feeling that they do their utmost to be different from me. Even when this attitude makes me angry, it seems positive. Not a day goes by when they don’t tell me, more or less subtly, that I belong to the past. Not a day goes by when they don’t point out that what I say is banal and out of touch with the present, which is their area of expertise. Not a day goes by when they don’t find a way to pit their intelligence against mine, and the aim is always the same: to let me know that I should keep quiet. Not to mention that whenever I have trouble with the computer or some other electronic device, they intervene to remind me that I am of the era of the fountain pen and the pay phone.
I look at them and, sometimes with satisfaction, sometimes with alarm, see myself in their bodies, in their tone of voice. Bits of me appear for a few seconds, and I barely have time to recognise them, as when, in a page you’ve just written, you see flashes of the literary tradition behind you. They naturally don’t notice, and that’s good. I hope they have as much time as possible to declare themselves miraculously new and set about teaching me a thing or two. I, too, felt different from my mother and pushed out her generation to make room for mine. The cruelty of the latest arrivals, when they feel they’re the first to come into the world, is necessary.
I greatly fear the generations who don’t proudly leave their parents behind. But I’m also frightened by those who, at 20, leave their parents behind to embrace the mores of grandparents and great-grandparents. I don’t understand the young people who would replace the world of today with a golden age when everyone knew their place, that is, in an order based on sexist and racist hierarchies. Sometimes, especially when they declare themselves fascists, they don’t even seem like young people, and I tend to treat them even more harshly than the old people who inspired them. Dreaming of a return to the past is a denial of youth, and it grieves me to discover that young women, too, dream those dreams.
I love young people who fight to give their time a new form and demand a better life for the entire human race. I hope my daughters stay that way for a long time. Then – it’s in the natural order of things – as they get older they’ll find me within themselves, discovering physical details, flashes of personality, thoughts, and will learn to welcome me, make room for me. As happened with my mother and me, they’ll discover that, even admitting they’re partly me, they’ll continue to be themselves. In fact they’ll be themselves more fully, with greater autonomy.
• Translated by Ann Goldstein
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Love in the age of living for ever: could your marriage last 80 years?14 days ago
Getting married used to mean a promise of 40 years, if you were lucky increased life expectancy means it could be much longer. Will your relationship go the distance?
My boyfriend looks terrible for his age. His skin feels as fragile and wrinkled as used clingfilm; age spots pepper his face and arms. What hair he still has is faded to grey, and the laughter we have shared over the years has etched itself in the lines around his eyes. Mind you, I dont look too hot, either. We have both been transformed by a makeup artist who, with latex and face paint, has fast-forwarded us from partners of four years into husband and wife of 60 years. It is a very odd experience; I feel a flash of nostalgia for 30-year-old me, and immediately feel the urge to wear a bikini. Its like an injection of Nora Ephron: Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was 26. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and dont take it off until youre 34.
These pictures are the result of an experiment. I wanted to explore a question that pricks the minds of many couples at our life stage. We are both 30; a year and a half ago we bought a flat together; we have started to think about marriage. Perhaps the phrase started to think is disingenuous; the truth is, Shaun grew so bored with my talking about it that he banned me from mentioning it until after Euro 2016.
And so we find ourselves on the brink of a lifelong commitment, poised to make the same promise made by our parents, our grandparents and our great-grandparents, stretching back as far as our family trees will go, into countries I have never visited, from Yemen to Poland. But if and when we make that same promise, it will mean something very different. Because when our ancestors swore to love each other unto death, that meant 40 years together, if they were lucky. For us, thanks to improvements in healthcare and life expectancy (currently 79 for men and 83 for women in England and Wales, and set to rise), it could be more like 60 years. This is a radical shift, and one that forces us to question our assumptions about commitment and love. What does the age of longevity mean not just for individual marriages, but for the institution of marriage itself? What does it mean to say, Till death do us part in 2016?
As our life expectancy has improved (more than one-third of babies born today could live to 100), so have our expectations: we want a marriage to be great, not just good enough, all the way to the end. Dr Helen Fisher has been researching this issue for 40 years, and recently published an updated edition of her book Anatomy Of Love: A Natural History Of Mating, Marriage And Why We Stray. The focus of modern marriage is not stability, its love, she says. A century ago, a woman wouldnt have ended a marriage that was satisfactory, but a recent survey showed that one-third of people would leave a satisfactory marriage if they werent in love with their partner. Today, we want it all, and well walk away if we dont have it.
And so to the rise of the grey divorce. Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show divorce is falling in all age groups in the UK except for the over-50s, among whom it has risen by nearly 11% in a decade. Nearly 60,400 people in this demographic divorced in England and Wales in 2013, while the overall number of divorces fell to a 40-year low. The same trend has also been observed in the US, where in 2014 those aged 50 and over were twice as likely to go through a divorce than in 1990; the increase was even higher for those over 64.
I have always assumed that the grey part of marriage was the best bit. I watch with loving envy as my parents enter their fifth decade together, finally allowed to relax and enjoy themselves after all the child-rearing and careering and work-life balancing. But, for many, decades of marriage can simply bring boredom that feeling of, Is this all there is? Of meh.
Roger Jenkins, 68, ended his 33-year marriage at the age of 65. For me, as for a lot of people, crunch time in a relationship comes when you retire, he says. Suddenly the person you saw for a couple of hours each night, mostly spent in front of the telly, you are now seeing 24/7. And all the problems, which you saw for only a few hours a week, you now see 24/7, too. My wife had a great social life, and when I finally retired and wanted a holiday, she said, No, I have my own life. I dont want to go around with you all the time.
After trying marriage counselling and discussing the situation with his children, both in their 30s, Roger filed for divorce. It was not an easy decision he had to overcome the stigma he had absorbed as a boy: People of my generation grew up at a time when divorce was virtually unknown and viewed as terribly sinful. That burrows into your psyche at a fairly early age. But a lot of people my age are fit and reasonably affluent, because theyve had the benefit of a property boom, and its now easier to get divorced than it used to be so why should I spend the rest of my life in misery?
Relate counsellor Barbara Bloomfield agrees: Women and men are feeling so much younger than they did in previous generations, and they fervently believe they have 30 more years after retirement. Some think, why stick with the same old same old if you might be able to find someone better?
Older couples have always had to deal with an onslaught of potentially stressful factors: boredom, yes, but also hormonal changes that can lead to mismatched sex drives, children leaving home, retirement. Bloomfield explains: There are quite a few mothers and fathers who cant get used to being a couple after children have left home and they have stopped working, when theyre under each others feet all day. Either the marriage crumbles or they find a new way to be together. But people are refusing to accept these changes as inevitable even at 80, because five, 10 years is too long if you are unhappy.
Divorce lawyer Kerry Russell says she has seen many couples like Roger and his ex-wife. The main trend I have seen is couples divorcing due to the realisation that there is more in life. They sometimes describe their marriage as tedious, and many feel trapped in a routine. They often care very much for their spouse, but the differences between them seem more apparent. They see divorce as a way to gain some independence and live life to the full.
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How to parent without limitations | Trevor Silvester15 days ago
Foisting unnecessary anxieties on to our children can severely restriction their futures, says Trevor Silvester
For 20 years Ive sat in my therapy room and listened to people. Ive heard hundreds of stories from childhood that have led to lives of pain and restriction. Some are what youd expect abuse, trauma and deprivation but many are much more mundane. Can a bad first day at school genuinely lead to a dread of failing? Can a single moment of rejection lead to serial relationship tragedies? It certainly seems so.
Yet for every childhood sufferer of trauma which is continuing bears the scars as an adult, theres an adult for whom trauma contribute to a life of meaning and achievement. Until its sad demise I ran as a therapist with Kids Company, a charity that helped vulnerable young person. As a consequence, Ive often find young people dragging themselves out of a routine of deprivation to pursue a better life with a resilience that left me breathless.
While in my Harley Street practice, I sometimes assure clients whove lived a life of privilege who remain stuck in a gilded prison that only their thinks have created. It doesnt seem to be what happens to us that defines us anywhere near as much, or as often, as the meaning we devote it. If what we induce of life is the result of our interpretations, how can we guide ourselves and our children towards a positive understanding of an event rather than a negative one? How can we select an interpretation that causes us to open up to the world and its potentials rather than shut ourselves off?
If we take one of our cells and set it in a Petri dish with information sources of nutrient, it will move towards the nutrient. If you replace the nutrient with a toxin, the cell will move away. In other words, the cell moves towards an opportunity for growth, or it recognises and responds to a need for protection.
As a collecting of a trillion cells, I suggest we do the same thing. Freud described this as the pleasure principle that we all move towards pleasure and away from pain. From day one on this planet your brain has been interpreting your experiences, using them to predict the way the world runs and what is going to happen to you moment to moment.
Your brain is constantly shuttling backwards into the past to look for relationships between whats happening to you now and what happened before. It then uses the connections it determines to predict what is likely to happen to you next. What this means is that decisions we make as children, whether its about the meanings of our parents screaming at us; or splitting up; or seeming to favour a sibling; or feeling stupid in front of our friends or rejected by them; or humbled by a teacher, any of these can be the beginning of a chain of interpretings or misunderstandings that result us unnecessarily into being in a state of protection. In a world where youre primed for assault, everyone is a possible attacker and menace is contained in every opportunity.
Im not is recommended that our protection response is wrong. It has played a key role in our survival as a species. Wanting to protect “our childrens” is one of the most powerful instincts we have. However, that very strength can cause us to teach our children to fear unnecessarily and even guide them into limiting beliefs about themselves that hold them back their whole life.
What is crucial is to distinguish unnecessary protection from actual threats. Its about how to let go of the limitations you experience and realise that the more you are able to be in growth, the more opportunities youre likely to have to thrive.
Grow! by Trevor Silvester is published by Coronet at 14.99. To order a transcript for 12.74, visit bookshop.theguardian.com
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Stripparaoke: the new nightlife tendency that combines- yes- stripping and karaoke21 days ago
You can tell theres something a little different about Devils Point Strip Club in Portland, Oregon from the get-go.
Buzzy, horned neon signs beckon in guests with satanic, come-hither appeal. A various kinds of subterranean rocknroll vibe pervades everything from artwork selections to the shadowy red-bulb lighting. Among performers, there are more facial penetrates than not. It feels refreshingly authentic; Ive logged a significant number of hours in exotic dancing joints, but Devils Point is the first where Ive heard Nina Simone crooning as I strolled in the door.
An elevated level of convenience is especially important here, where Sunday nights are home to the weeks most popular event: stripparaoke.
This titillating portmanteau experience is exactly what it sounds like, blending two heavy-drinking, wee-hours-of-the-morning amusement favourites into one massive demonstrate.
Why work is much easier than love | Alain de Botton1 month, 3 days ago
If youre breathing a sigh of relief that its Monday and you can get a break from your relationship, youre not alone
As a culture we are highly attuned to what is beautiful and moving about love; we know its high points and celebrate its ecstasies in films and songs. By comparison, work is the dull, tedious bit the thing we have to do to pay the bills. And yet whats striking is how often work, despite its lack of glamour, in fact turns out to be the easier, more enjoyable and ultimately more humane part of life. There are a number of reasons for this.
1 You have to be professional
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Human expertise: it’s not what you know, it’s who …1 month, 9 days ago
Sharing knowledge is a form of playing, say Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach. And it depends heavily on others
Most things are complicated even things that seem simple. You wouldnt be shocked to learn that modern automobiles or computers or air traffic control systems are complicated. But what about, say, lavatories?
If you take a minute and try to explain what happens when you flush one, do you even know the general principle that governs its operation? It turns out that most people dont. Nobody could be a master of every facet of even a single thing. Even the simplest objects involve complex webs of knowledge to manufacture and use. Most people cant tell you how a coffee maker works, or how glue holds paper together, let alone something as complex as love.
Our point is not that people are ignorant. Its that people are more ignorant than they think they are. We all suffer, to a greater or lesser extent, from an illusion of understanding, an illusion that we understand how things work when, in fact, our understanding is meagre.
We all have domains in which we are experts, in which we know a lot in exquisite detail. But on most subjects we connect only abstract bits of information, and what we know is little more than a feeling of understanding we cant genuinely unpack.
So how can we get about, audio knowledgeable and take ourselves seriously while understanding only a small fraction of what there is to know?
The answer is that we do so by living a lie. We tell ourselves that we understand whats going on, that our opinions are justified by our knowledge and that our actions are grounded in justified faiths, even though they are not. We tolerate intricacy by failing to recognise it. Thats the illusion of understanding.
So how can humanity achieve so much when people are so ignorant? It turns out we have been very successful at dividing up our cognitive labor. We would not be such competent thinkers if we had to rely only on the limited knowledge stored in our heads and our facility for causal reasoning. The secret to our success is that we live in a world in which knowledge is all around us.
We have access to huge amounts of knowledge that sit in other peoples heads: we have experts that we are going to be able contact to, say, fix our dishwasher when it breaks down for the umpteenth period. We have professors and talking heads to inform us about events and how things work. We have books, and we have the richest source of information of all time at our fingertips, the internet.
But sharing the competences and knowledge is more sophisticated than it voices. Human beings dont merely construct individual contributions to a project, like machines operating in an assembly line. Rather, we are able to work together, well informed others and what they are trying to accomplish. We pay attention together and we share aims. In the language of cognitive science, we share intentionality. This is a form of collaboration that you dont see in other animals. We actually enjoy sharing our mind space with others. In one kind, its called playing.
The nature of thought is to draw on knowledge wherever it can be found, inside and outside our own heads. But we live under the knowledge illusion because we fail to draw an accurate line between what is inside and outside our heads. And we fail because there is no sharp line. So we dont know what we dont know. What we need is a greater appreciation of how much of our own knowledge varies depending on the things and people around us. What goes on between our ears is extraordinary, but it ultimately varies depending on what goes on elsewhere.
The Knowledge Illusion by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach( Macmillan, 18.99) is out now. Buy it for 16.14 at bookshop.theguardian.com
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How to talk to strangers: a guidebook to bridging what divides us1 month, 10 days ago
The more we do to interact with people who arent like us, the better off well be in the face of hatred that has become so visible thanks to Donald Trump
We seem to have lost the capacity to live with our differences in peace. The complex lines that divide us are now exposed, and they run deeper than we supposed from what we see as the most pressing issues facing the country, to our values, to our understanding of race, gender and liberty. In her concession speech, Hillary Clinton herself observed: We are a far more divided society than we realized.
In the Seattle Times, Nicholas Confessore and Nick Corasanti described the electorate as unprecedentedly segregated socially and geographically: About half of Americans now live near people more politically like them than not, whether in conservative rural townships or sprawling liberal cities. Few Trump supporters report having close friends voting for Mrs Clinton. Many Clinton advocates are more likely to see Trump voters on television than in person.
Republicans and Democrat have always been on opposite sides of political and social fences. Whats new, what might feel insurmountable, is the degree of change. The gap has widened very quickly over the past two decades. Weve arrived at perhaps the most difficult moment in recent history: approximately half the electorate have voted into the presidency of the United States an openly bigoted, racist, xenophobic, sexist, sex predator. Divisiveness personified in an authoritarian leader.
In the face of pervasive, violent hatred that has become so visible and so normalized, people are struggling with what to do, how to take action.
Mobile dating apps spur HIV epidemic among AsiaaEUR( tm) s adolescents, says UN1 month, 12 days ago
Smartphone technology has increased the opportunities for casual sex and led to a spike in HIV infections among teens in Asia, researchers find
United Nations research has observed the growing utilize of mobile dating apps by young gays men is a major factor in a new HIV epidemic among adolescents in Asia, the Guardian can reveal.
The report uncovered a upsurge of HIV infections among 10 -1 9 years olds in the Asia-Pacific region, where more than half of the worlds 1.2 billion teens live.
The two-year study found that smartphone dating apps have expanded possibilities for spontaneous casual sex as never before.
The epidemic is fastest growing amongst men who have sex with humen. Other groups include those who are sexually exploited by or engaged in sexuality work, people who inject drugs, and young transgender people.
Young lesbian men themselves has systematically told us that they are now utilizing mobile dating apps to meet up for sexuality, and are having more casual sex with more people as a result. We know that this kind of risky behaviour increases the spread of HIV, said Wing-Sie Cheng, HIV/ Aids consultant for Unicef in east Asia and the Pacific.
We are hence convinced that there is a connection, and that we need to work better with mobile app providers to share information about HIV and safeguard the health of adolescents.
The previously unreported epidemic threatens the UNs goal to end the global Aids crisis by 2030, which appeared achievable after a sharp drop in Africa during the past 15 years.
Adolescents are also more likely to die of Aids-related demises, researchers from Unicef and UNAIDS detected, as they are less inclined to seek therapy, dreading they will be stigmatised or forcing them to expose their sexuality to their family or the authorities concerned. In many countries in the region, under-1 8s cannot get an HIV test without parental consent.
While global HIV infections are dropping, the number of teens aged 10 -1 9 officially living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific has grown to more than 220,000, with the unofficial number expected to be much higher, Unicef says. Fewer than half of them are receiving treatment and demises have risen nearly every year for a decade.
An HIV-positive Filipino man aged 30, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect himself from abuse, said it was hard to find sex for a gay teen, bullied at school and closed off from the adult-only lesbian bars.
At university, the introduction of internet dating chat rooms and online forums allowed him to find more sex partners his age. He would chat with men and agree to rent a room for a few hours in the capital.
If I write down all the people I had sexuality with in Manila, I can probably write one to five people for each stop of the metro, he said.
Smartphones and mobile dating revolutionised his sex life. Whereas internet dating involved a laborious process of arranging a session up, dating apps are location-based, allowing users to scan their surroundings for others.
Even if youre still in school and “youre feeling” the need to have sex, you just open Grindr, he said. You dont even have to talk to them. People simply send you naked photos or photos of their cocks. If youre fine with them, you just go and have sex.
The immediacy of the sexuality, organised in minutes, attained condom utilize less likely, he said. I did use condoms. But it was not consistent. You dont want to lose the momentum.
Despite his promiscuous mobile dating years, the Filipino mans HIV test returned negative and he entered into a long-term relationship. But two years later he contracted the virus from his boyfriend who was secretly cheating on him by employing mobile dating apps.
In the Philippines, new HIV infections among teenagers have doubled in four years. In Bangkok, young gay humen now have a one in three opportunity of HIV infection.
And eighteen countries across the Asia-Pacific region criminalise against same-sex relationships which UNAIDS says causes lesbian humen to avoid life-saving HIV services.
A separate study last year found that men who have sex with men utilizing dating apps are at greater hazard of contracting gonorrhoea and chlamydia than those who gratify in-person or on the internet.
Wing-Sie, the Unicef adviser, said that dating apps create networks of men, in which infections rapidly spread among users. Mobile dating apps essentially hook you up to a central network.
She said the study looked at observational trends around the region reported by United Nations policemen and local community workers who said their HIV strategy urgently needed to adapt to the explosion of mobile dating apps. HIV is a covert issue, it is very hidden. So data is not available.
She said researchers found that with the rise of these apps, the probability and risk of infection will increase multifold because it stimulates it so much easier for them to date other guys and hook up for sex, she said.
A spokesman from Grindr, used in 196 countries worldwide with 1 million active users every minute, said it has a minimum age requirement of 18. As the worlds largest homosexual platform, we take matters of sex health very seriously, the spokesman said, adding that Grindr runs in-app proclamations fostering testing at local clinics.
David S Novak, senior health strategist at Online Buddies, the mother company of the dating app Jackd, directed the Guardian to its ManHunt Cares project, which provides health resources to its users. In 2009, the company also set up a research institute focusing on lesbian sex health.
Other major dating app companies Tinder, Blued and Growlr did not respond to requests for comment.
The UN report says these apps can become vital conduits promoting sexual health, including HIV messaging and testing, and references a 2014 World Aids Day project by the Chinese gays dating app Blued where a red ribbon was added next to every users profile scene, linking to details of nearby testing centres.
Wing-Sie said Unicef will approach mobile dating app companies in the next month for a collaborative endeavor and so the world body might collect data to further investigate the impact of mobile dating.
Based in Bangkok, Jesse Krisintu has been working with charities trying to persuade young people to get tested for HIV through tactics such as pop-up advertisements on dating apps. He said the project did not work.
Its their business. If they advertise too much about HIV/ Aids services there, do you think people are going to go online? he said.
He said that one project involving pop-ups offered discounts on HIV tests but that very few were claimed and that the analytics depicts most users instantly closed the pop-up advert.
The application is where the key population is but no one is going to read the pop-up because the purpose of people going to those apps to find sex , not to find knowledge. The results are not that favourable, he said. People merely close it.
The UN is now also advocating for comprehensive sex education beyond a simple explanation of the sex organ and for reducing the age at which adolescents can take an HIV test without parental consent.
AIDS is already the leading cause of demise for adolescents in Africa and the second leading cause of death among teens globally, tripling over the past 15 years and largely as a result of mother-to-child transmission. However, this new breed of epidemic found in Asia-Pacific could be replicated elsewhere, public health officials warn.
There is a risk of not being able to eliminate Aids at all, Wing-Sie said. This is the new frontier of Aids to tackle right now. The world can never end Aids if this matter is not controlled.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Emma Watson starts feminist book group on Twitter1 month, 19 days ago
Actor pledges to ask stars including Taylor Swift and JK Rowling to join platform for reading deliberation, to be named Our Shared Shelf
Harry Potter actor, UN ambassador and feminism campaigner Emma Waston has announced she is starting a feminist volume group on Twitter, called Our Shared Shelf. Watson, who is a goodwill ambassador for UN Women and figurehead of the gender equality campaign HeforShe, tweeted yesterday that she wanted to start the book club, with her request for indicated names for the group sparking a flurry of responses.
After suggestions including Wats Up Fems, Watson Your Shelf and Hermiones Army, Watson announced today that she absolutely loved Twitter user @ emilyfabbs suggestion: Our Shared Shelf and portended further information about the book club was still to come.
Twitters response has been enthusiastic: alongside punters, retired American footballer Abby Wambach, performer Sophia Bush and singer Kate Voegele have all tweeted they would take part in the club, with Watson agreeing to ask Harry Potter author JK Rowling and singer Taylor Swift to join in.
The first volume may have been chosen: when Wambach asked for nominations, Watson elected American feminist Gloria Steinems latest memoir, My Life on the Road, a collection of the authors reflections on her life and activism that the Guardian called illuminating.
Watson made headlines when she launched the UNs HeForShe campaign in 2014, asking men to help women tackle sexism and for increased awareness of the negative impact masculine stereotypes had on men. Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong, she said, in her speech to UN delegates.
Watson is not alone in her aspirations to start an online celebrity volume club: actor Gwyneth Paltrow operates a cookbook club on her lifestyle website Goop, while fellow actor Reese Witherspoon who has a history of producing film adaptations of her favourite books, including Gillian Flynns novel Gone Girl and Cheryl Strayeds memoir Wild runs a volume club on Instagram, on the hashtag #RWBookclub.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced his biweekly volume club in January last year, focusing on books that have an emphasis on learning about different cultures, faiths, histories and technologies. Zuckerbergs first choice, The Objective of Power by Moises Naim, rocketed up the Amazon bestsellers list, outstripping 18 months of marketings in days after the announcement.
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