We Had to Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoets

We Had to Remove This Post is one of those books that leaves me thinking…well, not much beyond: this is a thing that exists

It doesn’t happen all that much but now and again I read books that spectacularly fail to elicit any discernible feeling or emotion in me (beyond ‘meh’). This is ironic given that We Had to Remove This Post is exactly the kind of wannabe-conversation-starter book that tackles topical & important issues. Maybe someone who knows very little about the gruelling realities of being a social media content moderator may find We Had to Remove This Post to be insightful in a way that I was sadly unable to. Having already come across articles and actual interviews about this topic, well, I was expecting something a bit more evocative and nuanced. But this novella was a fairly banal affair. Sure, the characters have arguments, or they are confronted with the worst that humanity has to offer (videos/images of extremely graphic nature), but, I just could not bring myself to care or even really believe in them, let alone what they were arguing about.

I found the choice to have Kayleigh’s narration be a ‘confession’ of sorts to this guy, quite frankly gimmicky. Kayleigh gives us an idea of the kind of toxic work environment and emotionally draining workload, but she does so in broad strokes, so I never got a sense of who she was, let alone the kind of people her colleagues were. She becomes girlfriend with one of her colleagues, and their relationship is supposedly a central aspect of the narrative, but I found their dynamic and that final twisty reveal extremely derivative.
Eventually, some of the content moderators begin endorsing the kind of material they should be taking down, and the narrative shows how easily misinformation is spread on social media, and how long exposure to certain spheres of the internet may eventually lead someone to ‘convert’ to that line of thinking/way of life.

I couldn’t tell you much else about this book, given how little of an impression it made on me. This is very much a book that could have easily been an essay or an op-ed. The subject matters—social media, conspiracy theories, being a content moderator—take the centre stage, at the expense of a compelling storyline and rounded characters. It wasn’t quite a I’m Making A Point type of book but it wasn’t that far off either…very much book club material.

The writing was okay, nothing to write home about. In the latter half of the book were some attempts at the kind of atmosphere you would find in a psychological thriller and they did not stick the landing.
Anyway, YMMV so if you are interested in this book I recommend you read more positive reviews.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆



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