NYLA Talks

Escaping the Internet with Toby Shapshak

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South African tech journalist Toby Shapshak deleted the Facebook app from his phone. „We’ll look back a hundred of years and be horrified of how quickly we gave up our privacy. People will think: who would do something like that to get a free social service?“

Toby, who has interviewed both Nelson Mandela and Steve Jobs, still believes that technology can be a source for good. But he says it’s up to us to decide how we will use it. We met Toby at the LOGIN conference in Vilnius to discuss how to escape social media addiction, end online harassment and why he didn’t upload a single photo of his newborn son online.

Lithuania is a special place for Toby. His grandparents were Lithuanian Jews who fled to South Africa during the war. He sees parallels between repressive Soviet and Apartheid ideologies.

„Cyberbullying is a huge problem. In school I’ve experienced terrible anti-semitism. But when I look at anti-semitism online, the scale of it is horrendous.“

„Technology is neutral. It just enables us to do something. It’s the human nature that we need to work with.“

GQ magazine called Toby “the most high-profile technology journalist in South Africa.” He interviewed Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak. His thinking about technology is deeply attached to his humanist values.

Podcast episode hosted and edited by Karolis Vyšniauskas, recorded by Kata Bitowt. Original music composed by Martynas Gailius. Photography by Mindaugas Drigotas. The studio voice over recorded at Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania. We want to thank LOGIN conference for the opportunity to meet Toby Shapshak in Vilnius.

Further reading:

You don’t need an app for that. Toby Shapshak’s TED Talk on innovation in Africa.


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