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Author Jia Tolentino and Model Kaia Gerber Discuss What to Take From ‘Trick Mirror’ During Quarantine

Author Jia Tolentino and Model Kaia Gerber Discuss What to Take From ‘Trick Mirror’ During Quarantine

The novel coronavirus quarantine has produced another celebrity book club. Supermodel Kaia Gerber, daughter of the legendary Cindy Crawford, started a book club that’s already receiving praise from fans and young Hollywood.

Now a month into her book club, she had an Instagram Live conversation with Jia Tolentino, the author of Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, on Friday night with an average high of 2,200 viewers. Kaia started the chat saying she found the book to be a refreshing take on modern-day philosophy.

This is how publisher Penguin Random House describes the essay collection: “Tolentino writes about a cultural prism: the rise of the nightmare social internet; the advent of scamming as the definitive millennial ethos; the literary heroine’s journey from brave to blank to bitter; the punitive dream of optimization, which insists that everything, including our bodies, should become more efficient and beautiful until we die.”

A staff writer at The New Yorker, Jia talked about the ills of the internet and social media, a focus in her book, but also mentioned its current necessity as we grapple with self-isolation and quarantine due to the coronavirus crisis. Jia brought up how the internet and social media has made people perform for attention. She asked Kaia about her personal experiences since the Gen Z model has 5.5 million followers due to her career and stature.

Now 18, Kaia said she started her Instagram at 14 and noticed how social media can change a person and their professional goals and give more attention to influencers rather than, for example, doctors and nurses who are saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The internet, for better for worse, is the biggest change of this era,” Jia said during the conversation. “It’s become this nervous system of our society… There’s an unavoidable centrality to it that seems like every story in a way is an internet story, no matter what.” She added we have a natural impulse to be seen, to be recognized, to be liked, and the business of social media takes these behaviors and monetizes “every inch of human life.”

They discussed how social media and the internet has to be impacting teens’ lives now and adding unique pressures never before experienced. Jia, a millennial who said she graduated during the Great Recession, said it would’ve been “dark” if she owned a smartphone in high school. With dreams to attend Columbia University, Kaia said as social media became a regular existence around her and she became hyper cautious in order to stay clean for college application times.

Jia pointed out to the feminism parts of the book where women were not able to apply for credit cards alone until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974 and how marriage is supposed to be the main life-changing event for a woman. Kaia brought up how her mother’s wedding dress was revolutionary in a way because it was a slip dress when sexy was looked down upon for a bride.

The chat came to a close with Jia saying how clear it is during the coronavirus quarantine that we can’t wholly replace in-person interaction with the internet and social media. Kaia said she would read anything else Jia writes and added the excitement of being able to have the conversation:

“This is the coolest thing ever. Truly the only people I fangirl over are writers and authors because I admire it so much because the idea of sitting down and writing an entire book is so intimidating to me, but I would read all of them.”

Earlier in the month, Kaia had an Instagram Live chat with the stars of Normal People on Hulu, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal. The TV series is based on Sally Rooney’s literary fiction book about two unlikely friends who develop a complex relationship in high school then college.

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