By Saamir Askari
Edited by Nidhi Singh, Junior Editor, The Indian Economist
God bless Facebook warriors.
It’s incredible how people otherwise weak and submissive can be so strong and oppressive behind a screen. I have had the honour of being in a couple of virtual duels myself, and it was just a couple of weeks ago that I found myself in the latest one.
I rarely comment on someone else’s status unless it concerns me, or it is something truly shocking. In this case it was the latter. Now, I’ve realised one must restrain oneself on a website like Facebook, where everyone is entitled to their opinion, and those who win are the ones with the most links to the Onion, or photosets from 9Gag. I had to make an exception in this case.
The status read as follows:
“To all those who #StandwithGaza please understand that the only reason why the death toll in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem doesn’t match that of Gaza is because of Israel’s superior defence systems. The recent ceasefire violation by Hamas is testament to the fact that in this conflict both sides are equally reproachable.”
I took my time to take it all in and then let it go, but I found no respite. What ensued was an aggressive debate with one side maintaining his deeply entrenched Right Wing ideology, and the other desperately trying to make him see reason. I mean really, when innocent children are dying (side note: are children ever not innocent in a war?), do we really have to focus on how incredible Israel’s defence capabilities are?
Days past, with me being angry at this part of the World that in my view supported Israel’s invasion of Palestine, and it was only later when I regained a sense of calm that I wondered to myself – Do we really have the right to take sides when it comes to such a horrific event? Who are we to float our alienated views on a situation that deserves more focus than 9 PM living room debates?
I believe it is very easy today for us to form an opinion on anything. For what would earlier take us ages to form some sort of idea on an issue that perturbed the world, now thanks to the gentlemen at Google takes us 5 minutes or less. While the effort undertaken by the men and women at Google is praise-worthy, one must understand that in this fast-paced consumption of information, a lot gets lost. It’s like eating fast food, how it’s lacking in nutrition – the primary information on the Internet is so devoid of context and facts that it only leads to the reader having a shallow view on things. I may only write the word ‘Wikipedia’ to elucidate my case.
Furthermore, given how easy it is to obtain information and form a stance, people tend to pit their opinions against each other, now more than ever. And given that these views often lack context or full comprehension, what happens is that it ends up being a tiring and loud debate, where the aim is simply to shoot down the opponent’s argument in a humiliating manner, and gloat while everyone else begrudgingly applauds your efforts, wondering why did they bear witness to it in the first place. No more is a debate about analyzing the winning argument and taking it to be true and valid; it’s now more of a clash of egos.
In the case of the Israel-Palestine crisis, I simply feel that we must not take sides in a war that isn’t ours. There is a lot more at stake than our views. Innocent civilians are dying everyday in Palestine, and Gaza has been razed to the ground. While it may be tempting to question Israel’s attempt at Zionism, or indeed justify their acts ‘because Hamas’; we shouldn’t. Our hearts should ache for our fellow humans in Palestine and Israel, and our thoughts should be with the fallen.
We’re birds on a live wire. You’ve managed to sit down on it. Now don’t move.
Saamir is a student of Economics at Hindu College, Delhi University. He is a writer across various platforms, most noticeably as a playwright. Apart from having a keen interest in the political and economic affairs of the country, he spends most of his time either in a cold, dark room writing; or on a hot, vast track running. He can be contacted either via his blog (fosterthepapayas.tumblr.com), or through his email (firstname.lastname@example.org).