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Mailbag: Why Does the Internet Make Us Depressed? Where Does Good Writing Come From? Is College Worth It Anymore?

Derek answers your burning questions in a special mailbag episode!

In this photo illustration, the Twitter logo is seen... Photo Illustration by Idrees Abbas/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Derek answers your burning questions in a special mailbag episode!

If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at You can find us on TikTok at

In the following excerpt, Derek runs through the episode’s mailbag topics and previews an upcoming episode on ChatGPT and GPT-4.

Derek Thompson: Today, it’s our first mailbag in what feels like forever. We’ve already done two episodes this week on the news of the week in economics, which was the absolute calamity of Silicon Valley Bank, followed by the near banking panic that nearly swept over the entire midsize regional bank community. I am very interested in and very closely following the emergence of GPT-4, the new AI from OpenAI. I’ve been playing around with it on the new ChatGPT Plus edition, which is powered by GPT-4. Some incredible things happening there, some spooky things, according to some talking heads.

So I’m looking forward to an episode in the next week or two weeks to break down this phenomenon. For now, I don’t know how much news there is in this particular sphere. It’s really cool. Some of the implications are awesome, some of the implications are extremely spooky.

Today, we’ve got a really fun bunch of questions—questions about why the internet turns us all into doomers, where good writing comes from, why it feels among some like college isn’t worth it anymore, some questions about the labor shortage, the future of nuclear power. It’s a really fun lineup.

As always, we so appreciate all your support. If you have some time and you haven’t done so already, give us five stars on Apple Podcasts. Give us five on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Leave a nice review. It always makes my day to see a nice review, especially on Apple Podcasts. And yeah, hope you enjoy this mailbag. I’m Derek Thompson, and this is Plain English.

This excerpt was edited for clarity. Listen to the rest of the episode here and follow the Plain English feed on Spotify.

Host: Derek Thompson
Producer: Devon Manze

Subscribe: Spotify