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Barack Obama Talks With Prince Harry About the Perils of Social Media, and What Was Going Through His Mind in January 2017

In an interview for BBC Radio 4 Prince Harry, who was guest-hosting their ‘Today’ show, sat down with President Barack Obama for an in-depth interview about his post-Presidential life, his hopes for the future, the perils of social media, and just what was going through his mind as he witnessed Trump’s inauguration on January 20th, 2017.

That question was obviously one of the first questions Prince Harry asked, and Obama answered in his characteristically level-headed style, shining a well-deserved spotlight on his beloved partner-in-awesomeness:

“The first thing that went through my mind was, sitting across from Michelle, how thankful I was that she had been my partner through that whole process. She is a spectacular, funny, warm person. She is not someone who was naturally inclined to politics, so in some ways, despite the fact that she was I think as good of a first lady as there has been, she did this largely in support of my decision to run. And for us to be able to come out of that in tact. That our marriage was strong. That we’re still each other’s best friends, our daughters turning into amazing young women. The sense that there was completion, and that we did the work in a way that preserved our integrity and left us whole, and that we hadn’t fundamentally changed was a satisfying feeling.

That was mixed with all the work that was left undone, and concern for how the country moves forward. Overall, there was a serenity there. More than I would’ve expected.”

That doesn’t mean that he’s not keenly aware of the damage that Trump is doing to the country, although his discussion of that came up in a very different way, as the two talked about the effects of social media on individuals, and on the country as a whole. Obama said:

“All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the Internet. One of the dangers of the Internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases. The question has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but doesn’t lead to a Balkanization of society.”

This has become so very difficult, but it’s something that I know that I personally struggle to do, even if it means that people get upset with me for not being “angry enough” about one thing or another. Being moderate isn’t sexy these days, but moderation and pluralism might be the things that save us all. Of course, that also means removing platforms from those whose aim is to hinder the voices of others.

We tolerate everything except intolerance.

To hear the full interview, check it out over at BBC Radio 4, where you can hear (and download) the whole 40-minute interview for the next six days.

(via Kensington Palace on Twitter, image: screencap)

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