Semantics

“These days, pettiness is openly flaunted by the powerful…”

These days, pettiness is openly flaunted by the powerful, who are uniquely capable of sending their own smallness radiating throughout the culture. It stretches from Washington to America’s biggest pop star: On her new album, “Reputation,” Taylor Swift re-establishes herself as the perpetual victim in a career-spanning spat with Kanye West. (The first single was titled “Look What You Made Me Do,” as if it were blaming us for its existence.) Business moguls can act small, too. After workers at the local New York news sites DNAinfo and Gothamist voted to unionize, the billionaire owner Joe Ricketts quickly laid off all of them and, out of what seemed like sheer pique, shuttered the websites, briefly wiping archives of reporters’ work from the internet.

Amanda Hess, “Small Talk”, The New York Times Magazine (10 December 2017), 14, 16.