Friday, August 7, 2015

On Facebook Democracies

On Facebook Democracies

While buying my morning coffee, a conversation over something in the morning paper, to which I commented that I don't read the morning paper but go on Facebook for my news, led to me being lectured, as if I had no idea, that it's facile to make radical statements on Facebook, that even a thousand likes doesn't mean your views are having an impact on 'reality', that you're only talking to people who agree with you, that you end up occupying a bubble if you don't realise there's a whole world out there. 
I started by saying that I knew all this but that writing for long hours is a very solitary occupation and I find that a bit of Facebook socialising, solidarity, letting off steam, and articulating and sharing my thoughts does me the world of good. 
But then it struck me and I asked: so, where is it that you have a space where you make 'difficult' as opposed to facile radical statements, where your views have a greater impact, where you are talking to people who don't agree with you and where you are not in a bubble? He looked a bit trapped and repeated unconvincingly 'there's a whole world out there'.
It made me think more clearly something I've been trying to articulate for some time. Perhaps Facebook has a scandalous dimension to it in that it lays bare a public secret about the nature of all democratic public conversations in our societies whether happening on TV or in newspapers. they are all happening in a bubble, in a world parallel to where all the decisions about policy, investments, mining, land development, war, immigration, etc… and are having no effect whatsoever on those. Perhaps then Facebook is the prototype of our democracy rather than an oddity. 
Is that Facebook-like dimension not the problem with Israeli democracy: nowhere will you get more publicly voiced critical and hyper radical critiques of zionism, settlers, colonialism, etc…. but nothing said no matter how radical it is stops the expansion of settlements.
Indeed, one can say the road towards the expansion of settlements is paved by views opposed to them just as much as by views supporting them. That is why BDS is so necessary as it has a 'Enough with impotent radical statements and declarations. what are you actually doing to even remotely try to stop the settlements' - dimension to it.

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