My teenage kids and their friends are all aflame about events in America. It's all over their Twitter and Instagram feeds and whatever other sites they frequent online.
They're living it. My daughter comes down
to breakfast and fills me in on what Nancy Pelosi or AOC (otherwise known as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) said overnight. In their circles, it's all anti-Trump and pro-Black Lives Matter.
Their identification with what's happening in America is deep. Their politics and moral views are being shaped by these historical events. This would seem to be true of many young people in New Zealand and around the world.
The Trump saga has been a morality tale for the rest of the world, with villains and heroes, conflict and tragedy. Who needs to study Shakespeare at school when you can be served up this stuff?
They celebrated Trump being banned from Twitter. As my daughter put it, this was the first time Trump's power had been checked. In her eyes, the hallowed institutions of American democracy had failed to bring him to justice for abuses of women and inciting racism. It's Twitter that had finally served justice.
It's quite incredible, a United States President - supposedly the most powerful person in the world - blocked by a private company from communicating to his 89 million followers.
I agree with my kids that Trump getting dumped from Twitter was a good thing.
But why did it take Twitter so long? They've had plenty of reason to remove him before.
It suited Twitter to enable Trump to spread lies and misinformation to his followers prior to his presidency, and right up until the Capitol was stormed by his more dangerous and delusional supporters.
After a mutually beneficial 12-year relationship, Twitter said goodbye to Trump because the people who make the decisions at Twitter obviously felt the situation was now getting out of hand.
Like all big media companies, Twitter thrives on conflict and disagreement, and the clicks it generates. Trump, in this respect, has been a media godsend.
However, for them and powers in the US economy generally (who benefited greatly from Trump's tax cuts) political chaos isn't desirable.
The plug being pulled on Trump's social media accounts has to be seen in this light. There's something else happening, though.
Twitter, Facebook and Google face increasing pressure over their culpability in sharing toxic views that lead to acts of violence and hate.
There are many things wrong with America that led to Trumpism, it's not all social media's fault, but those companies are the main reason lies and hate have corrupted so many people's minds.
The question is, should those companies be left to make content decisions themselves? Or should they be subject to laws about what is acceptable to say and share online?
That's a question for America to grapple with. But it's one we should be more proactive in considering in New Zealand.
Should there be a government agency, for instance, with powers to force internet companies to remove content that's untrue, if those falsehoods are going to cause harm or disrupt the political process?
The decision to ban a Trump shouldn't be Twitter's, it should be the laws of a country that upholds standards of political speech.
In New Zealand, we have a court system independent of the government and politicians. We have a Broadcasting Standards Authority that's free of political interference.
Surely, we can construct an internet-focused agency with real powers to stop internet companies spreading the kinds of lies and hate that threaten a functioning democracy.
• Northern Advocate columnist Vaughan Gunson writes about life and politics.