I’m Leaving — and What’s Next for Areo

This is the short letter I published when I announced that I would move away from Areo, a digital magazine that I founded. It’s reprinted on my website for the sake of record. You can read the original by clicking here and read the nice reader comments I received by clicking here.


In the Spring of 2016, I took a John Milton poetry class as a part of my MA requirement. I hated a lot of it. Though I constantly wondered what I was doing in there while the class was in session, I did console myself towards the end of the year by reminding myself that I had at least walked away with something: A name.

Areo’s name was inspired by John Milton’s Areopagitica, a speech the English poet wrote and delivered which condemned pre-publication censorship. (Perhaps now that you know the origins of its name you’ll be less likely to call it “Aero”!) The themes I set out at the onset of this project were loosely related to Milton’s piece of writing. I wrote the following as a mission statement:Continue reading “I’m Leaving — and What’s Next for Areo”

Growing Up Online

In my first few weeks of high school in Australia, I remember a classmate messaging me something inflammatory on MSN Messenger (the equivalent of AOL for Americans). Though I don’t recall the exact phrasing of it, I know it was akin to: “Go read the Koran you….” The message was particularly strange because it came from someone who pretended to be friendly towards me in our interactions during lunch breaks.Continue reading “Growing Up Online”

Truth and Power in a New Age of Publishing

This is the transcript of my comments at the Post-Truth Initiative, which was hosted by the University of Sydney. I delivered them on November 20th, 2017 during a segment focusing on Truth and Power. Square brackets include clarifying context.


Power is often ill-defined when it relates to the truth. Some strains of philosophy and their intellectual offspring huddle together to claim that power controls the production of our discourse. That is, those in power have a monopoly on what a society considers true.Continue reading “Truth and Power in a New Age of Publishing”

The Moral Contamination of Free Speech

We find ourselves living in an age where free speech is considered by many as a concept that only right-wingers care about. “You think free speech is important?” I’m asked. When I respond, “Yes,” eyebrows are raised, shoulders tilt away, and through the forehead of my interlocutors I envision some panicked calculations in their minds: Is he a bigot or a Dinesh D’Souza 2.0? Maybe he’s not hateful or right-wing, he just doesn’t know how it’s used to disempower minorities. And then I’m left thinking: How did it come to be that free speech is seen in the mainstream as only a concept conservatives, demagogues, and right-wingers champion — and one no sane liberal or even left-leaning person could defend?Continue reading “The Moral Contamination of Free Speech”

A Cartoon to Ease Your Existential Dread

I first realized how good we are at pushing away the insignificance of our existence while creating a PowerPoint at 2:30 a.m. in a second-floor office in New York City with my colleague. I paused and mentioned to her then: “Is this what you want to be doing?” hinting, vaguely, at some grand philosophical questions. In a delirium of coffees and Turkish food and half a day of screen time, she smiled at me — and turned back to her computer. Why are you thinking about this stuff? her face had conveyed.Continue reading “A Cartoon to Ease Your Existential Dread”

My Stealthy Freedom: The Hijab in Iran and in the West

In 1979, after the Islamic Revolution of Iran, more than a hundred thousand woman took to the streets to protest the compulsory veiling that was to be enforced under the new Khomeini regime. Mothers, nurses, and students — women from all walks of life — gathered to voice their displeasure at the new policy. But the protests were marred by violence. A group of devout men opposed the stance of the objectors and proceeded to stab some of its female participants after they refused to stand down.Continue reading “My Stealthy Freedom: The Hijab in Iran and in the West”