January 31, 2020


In social media, we actually encounter monsters.

Some are monstrous, and some may only be performing monstrosity. We may not be able to tell these apart. Yet they are there.

In 1943, one met Nazis if you had the misfortune to live in Paris or Bordeaux. If you happened to live in Des Moines or Calgary, however, you might seldom or never meet a Nazi. In Paris, you had to decide: would you shake the hand of a German officer? Would you enjoy an aperitif at a café favored by clerks employed by the Gestapo? Would you spit on a collaborator you met in the street if you thought you could get away with it? If you would not, did that make you a collaborator as well?

In Des Moines, you could get through the day without thinking this through. Today, no one lives that way: social media brings distant Nazis direct to you.

We are all Berliners; je suis Charlie Hebdo.