I am thinking a lot about the pictures, the horrible ones, that float in the internet, in facebook, everywhere. We are seeing those pictures, as they just pop up in our news-feeds, whether or not we “invited” them. Once one had to buy a newspaper, and read the news-section, or turn on 8 o’clock television-news in order to update oneself on “political” issues, but now, its just there with you, on the iphone, one virtually carries it around in one’s pocket, next to the tissues, and the snack-leftovers and the little bag with cosmetics. Pictures aside lifestyle-statuses, drowned bodies of children next to latte-art, in my bag.
This morning, my daughter forgot her sandwich at home, and I was rushing out of the house bringing it to her kindergarten, opening facebook on my way down the stairs, and – what did I want to do again? Look, here is your sandwich, don’t cry, it just arrived a little late, and you my love will never, never, drown in a rubber boat to Europe.
In Germany much concern is given to issues of “privacy.” German citizens blacken their houses and apartments on google-maps. Many do not use facebook. And the “transparent citizen” – the one whose consumer-behavior or internet-paths are public – is our new national nightmare. We identify with Momo, who bravely fights the “grey men,” invisible agents of the “system” who rule over us, without our knowledge or capability of agency.
But there is an incredible amount of self-indulgency and a-politicalness in this kind of withdrawal to the private space, and the private concern. I am, from morning to night, here, in order to bring you your sandwich. But here and now, your lunch-box, your bag, your little kitchen, your little life, is not something, which just “happened.” Your safety is the result of political decision-making processes and actions, of economic and cultural and symbolic power-relations. You have no longer the privilege to not to see – just open your news-feed. You cannot make yourself “invisible” on google-maps, because you do have a presence; and your actions, your decisions and your opinions are not a matter of academic reflection, to be discussed over a glass of good red wine with your best buddies. You will have to discuss your opinions with those, whose pictures you see in your news-feed. You will not be given the privilege to have a mere “opinion,” still being cool with everyone, always falling miraculously on the “good side” of the story. Your opinion does something, it has an impact, and you will have to stand in front of those you hurt (yes, you hurt).
A-politicalness and invisibility are a privilege you will not have. Kitsch, with some likelihood, will not work either. And you will have to come to terms with being tagged, publicly, without the possibility to hide. I am rushing out now, to bring you your lunch-bag, with the sandwich inside, it is whole-rye bread with organic cheese. I have to be careful not to slip on the stairs, because a woman just cleans them with loads of soap and water. Her parents came here, to Germany, some 40 years ago, when Germany needed more working-power, and imported it from Italy and a bit later, from Turkey. The woman cleaning our stairs, my dear, was born here, she holds a German passport, she may live next door, almost, but her children are not in your kindergarten. They are in a different kindergarten. We closed the doors of ours. We closed our doors long ago.