After a truck ran into a Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz, Berlin this monday, I realized something strange:
People decided not to retweet rumours about what happened. It was unfamiliarly silent in my Twitter timeline.
That is, not exactly everybody did so. Right wing populists, I shall better call them what they are: Nazis, were fast to name the offender and the cause of what happened, and I also read some English language tweets, some with rather reasonable speculations about the incident. I also read about the nearby Gedächtniskirche (picture above) being in that condition because of the „terrorist attack“ – it doesn’t.
This experience has an impact on me. I wonder, what if we did not share any of the filth right wingers post in social media to provoke? What if we decide not to be their amplifiers? I struggle myself, I am easily disgusted by some content and tend to react by sharing and commenting how disgusting I find this. I spread their filth to show people how filthy the provokers are, and by this I play their game.
I think „playing their game“ is common these days, also among the right wingers: They play the game of the jihadists, but not only this, the play in the same team.
Of course, jihadists and right wingers want people to think it is a game us vs them, east vs west, Muslims vs Christians. I believe this is wrong. It is the game hate vs love, chaos vs peace. Both, jihadists and right wingers, are on the team that tries to crack society into two blocks: „them“ and „us“. And of course, „we“ are the good guys who must use any weapon at our hand to defeat the bad guys, „them“.
I think our job, being on the other team, the team of love, peace and unity, is to heal society, to do whatever we can to hinder the cracking.
As cracking is done e.g. by so called „fake news“ (let’s call it what it is: propaganda and lies), avoiding the crack would mean to not spread these news, however upset we are about it. And to not consume any media that does spread these. Right wingers have been on many talk shows in Germany recently. Why not stop watching them, so they can spread their filth elsewhere.
Media runs by the mechanisms of the markets: Whatever sells, will be produced. Let’s not buy.
This is why I challenge YOU, to not share, retweet or consume the propaganda of these haters. Their propaganda is nothing the world needs to know about. It is nothing we need to talk about. Let us not help them any more.
In days of old there was a saying: „Don’t feed the troll“. It belonged to the newsgroups, where eventually people showed up who seemed to have fun provoking and thus destroying good debates. The rule was to not talk to these „trolls“, so they will give up eventually.
What I challenge you is similar, but not identical. Do not spread their lies and propaganda, do not tell what they do, but use the social media to speak with them. Shatter their world view, get into the debate, point out any prejudice they bring up, so they understand people do see they are lying and name it in public. After all, we want to heal society, to not crack it up. Which means we will have to form one society with them afterwards. Take the first step, because they won’t.
I know this can be frustrating, but it is worth the efforts I am sure. What else can we do to defeat the team of hate? Whenever we use methods of hate and separation, they win.