The 2006 Oscar-winning movie The Lives of Others centred on an agent for the hated East German Stasi who bugged people. It featured citizens informing on each other out of spite or personal interest.
It resonated with me because my first holiday was to Romania in the late 1970s. My Da was a communist so it made sense to head to Ceaușescu's workers' paradise, but after seeing the stifling mood of fear and lack of trust between ordinary Romanians, he burned his party card as soon as we returned.
It's hard to escape the impression that we are becoming the kind of society that the Stasi could only wish for.
Like most people, I have no time for Boris Johnson's embattled adviser Dominic Cummings. He knew what he was doing when he broke the lockdown restrictions he helped to formulate and hypocrisy from the elite will always set people's teeth on edge. On the other hand, it's impossible not to feel contempt for the man who took down the details of the registration plate of Cummings' car and ran to The Guardian.
It's hard to feel anything but disdain for the mob who turned up outside Cummings' house to heckle and abuse him - like all mobs, they were brave only because they had safety in numbers.
Then, on Wednesday, a woman in New York was fired from her job after footage of a row she had in Central Park was circulated online. She was undoubtedly in the wrong during the incident, but do we want to live in a world where people get sacked because of the baying jackals on Twitter?
A friend of mine was covertly photographed on the bus last year - leading to tweets from so-called liberals warning him that "we are always watching you".
Something similar happened to me when a snap of me reading the paper and having a quiet beer in The Long Hall was put up on social media.
We can look back on the Stasi with horror. We can throw our hands up at the idea of Romanians informing on each other. We can shake our heads at the idea of citizens ratting each other out.
Yet we have failed to recognise that we have all become Big Brother; watching, photographing and shaming fellow citizens we don't like.
I don't like Cummings. But I truly despise the mob that went after him.