Virtue signals

Big Tech’s morality grab

Featured in

  • Published 20230801
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-86-3
  • Extent: 196pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

A TRAIN CARRYING dangerous chemicals derails and releases a plume of toxic smoke. What doesn’t burn leaks into local waterways. Residents take pictures of their red, irritated eyes and upload them to social media. The authorities fumble their messaging. Just how dangerous is this smoke? Should people be moving away? And whose fault is it? How do we stop this from happening again? 

If all this sounds familiar, it might be because you’ve encountered some form of this disaster, and the responses to it, in fiction and in the news. In Don DeLillo’s novel White Noise, a train derailment leads to an Airborne Toxic Event, and the ‘black billowing cloud’ becomes a locus for people’s abstract and generalised fear of death in a post-religious, post-meaning world. More recently, conservatives in the US have seized on a real-life derailment in Ohio releasing carcinogenic chemicals to attack the Biden administration.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at griffithreview@griffith.edu.au

Share article

More from author

Who owns the future?

EssayTHE FUTURE IS always arriving, in one form or another. There is no no future. It’s an absurdly simple point, like saying that one...

More from this edition

History in Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

Poetry Because they spawn near each otherdiscover one another’s dog-scoutsSparta and Gandhi are contemporariesthe Eurotas river and the Gangesmuddying into the Indian Ocean, barbariantriremes appearing...

We will never be modern

Non-fictionMy Instagram feed, an information-stream cosplaying as a hyper-relevant town square, has undergone a radical transformation in the past few years. Whereas once that endless deluge teemed with benign yet revealing snapshots of friends moving through the motions and milestones of life – brunches, holidays, weddings and pregnancies – today’s experience is far removed.

Etc.

FictionTogether we were drawn mechanically across the road, boredom/fate reeling us in. The lawn sprawled over the grey-brick kerb. The house was painted green. Sellotaped to the windows were rows of pressed aster. The feeling of something too large to explain was heavy in the air. The door squeaked, swinging open, the main door ajar behind it, and through the gap we glimpsed a white hallway, a pile of discarded shoes on one side.

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.