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First, I'm sorry for the slight delay since the first one of these. I've had a couple unplanned surgical procedures over the last few months, which, you know, I wasn't planning on. But I'm getting better, I think!

Enough about that, though, because that's not very exciting. And this is an exciting day. I'm excited! Because I'm not having any surgeries today, for starters, but also because I can finally tell you a little more about what I've been working on for the last couple years.

As you may know, I've been writing a follow up to my first book, which will turn 7 (how!) this fall. So I'm thrilled and a little terrified to announce that it's actually, really, officially happening.

IRL: Searching for Meaning, Belonging, and Realness in Our Digital Lives, my book length existential spiral on what it means to be "real" in the time of Twitter, is coming!
Yep! My second book is about the internet.

I mean, sort of. Like those alien movies that are *actually* about what it means to be human (my favorite genre, honestly... ContactInterstellar! ARRIVAL!!), this book is about the internet, but really it's about what it means to be human. 

1/3 spiritual memoir (but, like, in a secular way), 1/3 investigation into our digital habits, and 1/3 philosophical inquiry into what makes us "real" (yes, those are the exact proportions!), this collection of essays seeks to understand what our online lives can reveal about how to be human. 

Even after that totally clear description, you might still be asking yourself: what exactly is IRL trying to do? 

As more and more people in my generation leave institutions that often help people navigate life's big questions and set off in search of meaning and purpose online, IRL pieces together research, interviews, and personal stories in an attempt to make sense of what's going on. It's a memoir about being a half-digital human that digs into a bigger story we're collectively writing through status updates and trending topics, trying to understand what our online behaviors reveal about human needs and desires that existed long before the first Facebook friend request. 

And while it’s definitely not a self help book, for anyone trying to determine what to do about the fact that more and more of our lives now happen online—a space so often dismissed as fake, or at least as less real as the rest of our lives—I hope it will be helpful. So maybe it's the self help book's annoyingly ironic (yet, ironically, somehow annoyingly earnest at the same time) gay friend who's always online.

Yeah, okay, I think that clears things up pretty definitively!
Whatever IRL is, thank you to Fortress Press for believing in it and giving it a home, and to my agent Erik Hane for being such an incredible creative partner and champion over the last couple years. I'm so grateful, and I can't wait for the work ahead.

As I gear up for another book, I feel super fortunate that Faitheist has had such an unexpectedly long shelf life. If it weren't for everyone who continues to engage with it, I wouldn't have been able to support myself over the last couple years while I've worked on IRL. I'm so thankful to everyone who reads, recommends, and invites me to speak about Faitheist. But I'm also beyond excited to share a new project with you, on a new (though related, as you'll find out if you read it!) topic. I hope you will find it is an expression of some of the same kinds of questions, curiosities, and values that motivated me to write Faitheist, as well as some new ones. 

What does it mean to be "real" in the age of deepfakes, filters, and personal brands? How are we using digital tools to search for meaning, purpose, and belonging, and are our efforts working? Why didn't you like my last Instagram post? I hope you'll check out IRL and see if I begin to sort any of it out.

In the meantime, subscribe and stay tuned to this newsletter for updates, news, and other thoughts. And of course you can continue to find me on Twitter, where I always keep it totally, one hundred percent real. ;)

thread artwork by John Paul Brammer
IRL artwork by A Andrews

Copyright © 2019 Chris Stedman, All rights reserved.

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