Over the last decade, the internet has devolved into a playground for influencers who peddle anything and everything you could imagine. But Helen Lewis says it isn’t just superficial TikTok stars telling you how to properly contour your face so you look like a Kardashian. She argues that the World Wide Web has became a digital revival tent, full of new leaders promising all kinds of enlightenment.
In fact, she says, we’re living in a golden age of gurus.
Helen Lewis is a writer for The Atlantic and host of the new BBC podcast, The New Gurus, which explores the “spiritual” leaders of the twenty-first century who have completely overtaken cyberspace. She profiles productivity hackers, dating coaches, wellness influencers, crypto bros, diversity experts, and heterodox intellectual heroes—who all make a living by captivating millions with their unconventional ideas (like drinking your own urine to get healthy or paying $5,000 to go to a dinner where you’ll be told you’re a racist).
Helen explains why these figures are so appealing right now, how our current moment stokes a belief in the most outlandish ideas, the limits of individual experts, and what, if anything, she’s learned about fighting our worst instincts, which are so easily amplified and indulged by the internet.
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