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Story Archives

Building Community

Nicki Pombier Berger

Nicki Pombier Berger

A friend of mine on Facebook has some extreme political views and an extreme interest in expressing them. We were once friends in real life, more than a decade ago, but now he is just a voice online, a welter of words and opinions. In the wake of every outburst I always wonder: what happened?

He was my first college friend. We met in the dorm elevator, Day One. He lived one floor below me, and we evolved a system of communication. He’d blast a song he knew I liked; I’d feel its bass in the cinderblock walls; I’d send a bucket on a string out the window down to him, with a note requesting another. I don’t know whom I hear in our exchanges these days. Sometimes I think I hear the undoing of our past communication, or its unmasking. I thought it was conversation, but maybe he was only ever down there, in the blare of what he wanted to hear, alone.  

 

How do you build a community without consensus?

 

Nicki Pombier Berger is a writer in Brooklyn and the co-founder of the Underwater New York literary salon.