America Isn’t Awkward Enough

Our Anti-Social Social Norms Keep Us From Engaging in the Uncomfortable Moments That Lead to Real Change

Ever since vaccines became available, people have been joking that the return to normal life would be awkward. After more than a year of relative isolation, so the half-earnest predictions went, we would surely find our social muscles atrophied. Even small talk or maintaining eye contact would feel like monumental achievements as we traded in our sweatpants and tentatively crawled out of our shelter-in-place hideaways.

Since becoming fully vaccinated, I have found the opposite to be true. Instead of paralyzing me with awkwardness, returning to normal social life has been …

California, Where Whatever You Do, You Will Be Wrong | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

California, Where Whatever You Do, You Will Be Wrong

We're All in This Together—But Please, Keep Your Distance

Our politics may be paranoid, our society may be paralyzed, our police may be irredeemable, and our skies may be on fire, but don’t fear! At least we Californians can …

Is Forgiveness the Basis of a Healthy Democracy?

An Iranian Philosopher Posits That Only Absolving Others of Blame Can Open Dialogue and Rebuild Decency

Why do we have such difficulty thinking about forgiveness? Read the news on any day and you’ll find stories of war, injustices present and past, and attacks on democracy. It’s …

The Austrian Philosopher Who Showed That Words Can Spark Humanism—or Barbarism

Ludwig Wittgenstein Saw Language as a "Game," and Whoever Makes the Rules Holds the Power

Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Austrian-British philosopher and logician, famously coined the term “language-game”—a term meant, as he writes in his Philosophical Investigations (1953), “to bring into prominence the fact that the …

Why America Should Be Bullish About Wall Street

A Dynamic Stock Market Fuels a More Open Society

You should be celebrating the fact that the stock market is soaring.

Yes, I’m talking to you, even if you are not a trust fund baby—make that especially if you are …

Can We Close the Empathy Gap?

Sixth Annual Zócalo Book Prize Winner Sherry Turkle Thinks We Can Learn How to Talk—and Connect—Again as Humans

Zócalo Publisher Gregory Rodriguez said he was terrified as he opened a discussion onstage at MOCA Grand Avenue with MIT’s Sherry Turkle.

It wasn’t, however, because he was moderating in …