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Trick Mirror summary

Jia Tolentino

Reflections on Self-Delusion

4 (64 ratings)
27 mins

Brief summary

Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino examines the contradictions of modern life, from social media to wedding culture, and explores how we construct our identities in a world constantly demanding the performance of self.

Table of Contents

    Trick Mirror
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    The internet has turned us all into narcissists – and our narcissism into business. 

    “I’m literally addicted to the web,” Jia Tolentino wrote in her online diary at the age of 12. 

    That was in the early 2000s, before we all became addicted to the web. Actually, back then, the internet wasn’t much of a web at all. It was more of a loose collection of people’s private obsessions. Services like GeoCities allowed users to build personal websites dedicated to golfing, or Ricky Martin, or, in Jia’s case, the TV series Dawson’s Creek. 

    But then, the Web 2.0 rolled around. With the advent of blogging, people’s online lives started to connect and intermingle. As more and more people started to share their lives online, it became harder to participate in society without having an online presence on centralized platforms such as Myspace– or later, Facebook and Instagram. 

    The key message here is: The internet has turned us all into narcissistsand our narcissism into business. 

    While the Web 1.0 was ruled by the idea that you could be anyone you wanted online, the Web 2.0 closely entwined our online lives and our real lives. Of course, we all wanted to make sure that only the best parts of our real lives ended up online.

    In a world governed by hashtags, comments, and likes, we learned to post only the most flattering selfies. We learned to express either our most relatable or our most extreme opinions. And we learned to align ourselves with trendy political causes to demonstrate our virtue to the world.

    Of course, people put on a show all the time in real life, too. In 1959, sociologist Erving Goffman described how any human interaction requires us to perform a certain role.

    At a job interview, for example, you might play the conscientious worker. But around your friends, you’re known as the bubbly entertainer. It’s only when you’re not being watched that you might feel as if your mask is coming off.

    The problem is that the internet doesn’t have scene breaks, or a backstage, for this to happen. Our online selves need to perform all the time, for everyone. Your Facebook self, for example, interacts with your boss, your spouse, and your 11-year-old niece alike. 

    And companies like Facebook have made a business out of our complicated online performance. They no longer profit by selling us stuff, but by selling us – our identities, our relationships, and of course, our data. 

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    What is Trick Mirror about?

    Trick Mirror (2019) is the long-awaited first collection of writer and essayist Jia Tolentino. In nine intertwined stories, she tells of the trends and ideas – as well as the personal and collective delusions – that have shaped her life, our country, and the culture. Examining everything from the internet to workout crazes to modern marriage, Tolentino interweaves the personal and political, calling to mind great feminist writers like Susan Sontag and Joan Didion.

    Trick Mirror Review

    Trick Mirror (2019) is a captivating collection of essays that explores the complexities of contemporary culture and the impact of technology on our lives. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With sharp, incisive analysis, Tolentino tackles topics like social media, feminism, and capitalism, offering fresh perspectives and thought-provoking insights.
    • Through personal anecdotes and cultural references, the book paints a vivid picture of the author's experiences, making it relatable and engaging.
    • By examining the contradictions and cultural illusions we all participate in, Tolentino challenges readers to question deeply held beliefs and societal norms.

    Best quote from Trick Mirror

    [T]he Internet brings the I into everything.

    —Jia Tolentino
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    Who should read Trick Mirror?

    • Critical thinkers with an affinity for dissecting cultural trends
    • Lefties and liberals – and those who want to understand them better
    • Anyone who claims the label “feminist”

    About the Author

    Jia Tolentino is a writer and editor. After studying at the University of Virginia, she served with the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan and received her MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan. She has previously worked as an editor for feminist media outlets Jezebel and Hairpin, and is now a staff writer at the New Yorker. 

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    Trick Mirror FAQs 

    What is the main message of Trick Mirror?

    Trick Mirror explores the complexities of self-deception and the impact of our cultural moment.

    How long does it take to read Trick Mirror?

    The reading time for Trick Mirror varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Trick Mirror a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Trick Mirror is a thought-provoking book that offers a fresh perspective on contemporary issues. It's definitely worth a read!

    Who is the author of Trick Mirror?

    The author of Trick Mirror is Jia Tolentino.

    What to read after Trick Mirror?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Trick Mirror, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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