Technology : The Atlantic

The Atlantic covers breaking news, analysis, opinion around the hard and soft sciences, innovation, and technology on the official site of the Atlantic Magazine.

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Reddit Squashed QAnon by Accident

Two years ago, most Americans knew nothing about QAnon, the ever-growing, diffuse, and violent movement devoted to a loosely connected set of conspiracy theories, most of which tie back to the idea that Donald Trump is leading a holy war against a high-powered cabal of child traffickers, some of whom drink blood. But at the time, it was a massive problem...

The Pandemic Has Remade Friendship

My friend Adam Nemett and I became close friends in college, when I basically lived in the house he shared with my then-boyfriend. We saw each other constantly—at home, on campus, over dinner. We got drunk together; took the train to New York City to go clubbing together; emailed during our summer vacations. The last night of college, the three of us...

How Quickly Can a Girl Go Viral on TikTok?

A girl sits alone on an ugly couch, stroking a plastic fish and mouthing the words to Jason Derulo’s “Ridin’ Solo.” Her eyes are bloodshot. She puts on sunglasses to cover them up, just as Derulo says he does in the song.This video, uploaded to TikTok in July, has more than 11.4 million views. It was posted by @mooptopia, who emerged from nowhere at...

Why Everything Is Sold Out

All summer, I tried to buy things, and mostly I failed. I signed up for two separate wait lists for out-of-stock black spandex bike shorts, which I needed for the Peloton I had bought, itself back-ordered for two months. I also added my email address to a wait list for curtain rods, remembering how the shifting fall sun broils the kitchen table that’s...

The Bunker Magnates Hate to Say They Told You So

“I’m not one of the paranoid kinds of people,” Michael, the 51-year-old owner of a construction company, told me this spring.But who doesn’t look at the state of the world these days and get a little paranoid? It’s not just the virus and the economic collapse. It’s the protests, the fires, the cyberspying, the border shutdowns, the freezer trucks full...

Your Phone Wasn’t Built for the Apocalypse

It looked like Mars, or the Southern Californian wasteland in Blade Runner 2049, or the deserts of Dune. Almost 100 wildfires have ravaged the western United States in the past month, scattering particles of ash and smoke into the air and forcing 500,000 people to evacuate their homes in Oregon alone. On Wednesday, residents across the West, already...

The Pandemic Is No Excuse to Surveil Students

In Michigan, a small liberal-arts college is requiring students to install an app called Aura, which tracks their location in real time, before they come to campus. Oakland University, also in Michigan, announced a mandatory wearable that would track symptoms, but, facing a student-led petition, then said it would be optional. The University of Missouri,...

Generation Work-From-Home May Never Recover

To have a job without a workplace, you must build an office of the mind. Structure, routine, focus, socialization, networking, stress relief—their creation is almost entirely up to you, alone in a spare bedroom or on your couch, where your laptop might vie for attention at any given moment with your pets or kids. If the coffeepot runs dry, there is...

America’s Summer of Viral Meltdowns

The sign outside the Panera Bread in Chico, California, clearly informed customers that they must wear a mask in order to enter. But inside, one day in July, someone was breaking the rules, and William Cuthbertson, a 49-year-old librarian, instinctively started filming.In the video, a woman waits in line and lets a surgical mask dangle from her hand...

Why Every City Feels the Same Now

Some time ago, I woke up in a hotel room unable to determine where I was in the world. The room was like any other these days, with its neutral bedding, uncomfortable bouclé lounge chair, and wood-veneer accent wall—tasteful, but purgatorial. The eerie uniformity extended well beyond the interior design too: The building itself felt like it could’ve...

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