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Our Love-Hate With Facebook in a Time of Plague

“May you live in interesting times” has been widely attributed to an ancient Chinese curse, though no reliable sources exist to verify that claim. Nevertheless, someone thought of and expressed the sentiment to someone else, and we owe that someone a measure of thanks as we live today through what, by any metric, meets, with absurd dark ease, the standard of “interesting times.”

I’ve found myself musing on the expression repeatedly in recent years and almost obsessively in recent weeks, as the coronavirus shoves virtually every other concern off the media wires and our own conversational threads with the people in our lives.

And as it happens, Facebook—criticized and reviled (often, with good reason) for its incursions on our privacy and cunning ability to coerce us into frittering our lives away watching endless cat and cute kid videos—has emerged as a primary conduit for those conversationa...

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