A little less than two weeks after Donald J. Trump was elected President of the United States, Tina Fey and David Letterman, two giants of the comedy world, sat down at Circo in Manhattan to discuss, well, a bit of everything.
In the interview, which was published Wednesday in conjunction with The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Power 100 breakfast, Fey talked parenting, and friends, and bedtimes, and Lorne Michaels. But the meat of the article lay in breaking down the world we find ourselves in. A world that, in Fey’s eyes, feels a bit like a slowly climbing rollercoaster that has suddenly started to fall backwards.
“It feels like we were on the precipice of things getting pretty good, and now we’re in a bit of a throwback moment. I definitely came out of last month feeling misogyny is much more real than two years ago,” Fey told Letterman.
“But the thing I worry about [more] than actual human interaction is the internet,” she added. “Because that’s just despicable: people just being able to be awful to each other without having to be in the same room. It’s metastasizing now, thanks to our glorious president-elect who can’t muster the dignity of a seventh-grader. It’s so easy for people to abuse each other and to abandon all civility.”
Anyone who has spent significant time interacting with people on the internet can attest to what Fey is talking about. Online, it is much easier to be harsh and biting online. Online, it is easier to voice your opinion without having to listen to the retort. To spew hate without consideration for those it affects.
The internet doesn’t provide us the empathy-generation machine that real-life interaction does. In person, face to face, it is harder, if not impossible, for humans to cut themselves off from the divergent opinions around them. Real-life interaction provides us with one of the most wonderful things about our species: the ability to feel compassion. Too often, the internet takes that sense of compassion away.
Fey and Letterman spoke as part of the leadup to The Hollywood Reporter honoring Fey with the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award, given to women who are pioneers in their industry.