The rhetoric lately when it comes to explosions and suicide bombers has become that of “we’ve become used to it.” People go about their business usually, not caring that people had just died and that suicide bombers being among us is not something that permits us to go about our business regularly.
On February 19th, 4 days ago, two bombs rocked Bir Hassan in Beirut’s Southern Suburb. 50 minutes after the news of the explosion broke out and all necessary politicians copy/pasted their required indignations and political messages, our president issued a message to a young twitter activist accepting his apology for some defamatory tweets. Nice gesture? Perhaps. Was it the proper time? I guess we can all agree it wasn’t.
There was a time when explosions taking place occupied our news for hours on end. Yesterday’s suicide bomber and the army men and civilians he killed only did so for a brief period of time before our TV stations resumed their regular broadcasts. The Voice here, another trivia show there. Life went on.
If one wants to plot the effect of explosions on the Lebanese populace over time, you’d get a curve that is somewhat like this:
Yesterday’s suicide bomber news was eclipsed by two news items that made the innocent people that died seem irrelevant, the news about their death being absolutely secondary to the major problems the country was facing at the time, à la OMG WHATSAPP IS DOWN!
The jokes about Facebook and Whatsapp sky-rocketed yesterday. But the most ironic thing was our TV stations issuing breaking news bulletins about Whatsapp being down while showing footage of the suicide bomb. They knew where people’s real interest was. Our new minister of telecom, Boutros Harb, even tweeted about the service’s problems:
I guess people can’t shoot down his twitter skills after all. On Twitter, people discussed their Whatsapp service being off more than the bombs. The former was interesting news, the latter being very been there, done that about 24 times in the past year. How would they come up with their Saturday night plans? How would they know if they should hit Mar Mkhayel or Hamra tonight? How would they know what to coordinate what to wear? Our priorities are well established.
I commend Angelina Jolie for being more interested in Lebanon’s Syrian refugees than our governments, as well as most of the Lebanese population. This isn’t the first time she comes to Lebanon for that matter and I’m assuming it won’t be her last. She also slept at some hotel in Zahle. Good for her? Not quite. It’s good for the entire country, people!
Her secret visit immediately became the hottest news piece of the evening (literally, perhaps?) for our news services and people alike. A tweet leaked her location. News services latched onto it and started their retrospective analysis to confirm such news by figuring out why the Lebanese Army blocked the roads leading to that hotel. Our own paparazzi squirmed to take her pictures at the camps she was visiting. Angelina’s secret visit was secret no more.
This is good for the country, some said. Such a high profile visit might change perspectives, other said to try and explain their obsession with her visit while it didn’t pertain in any way whatsoever to whatever agenda they believed she could advance.
Pity The Nation?
Pity the nation that cares more about the image Angelina Jolie might give than about the reason she’s actually here. Pity the nation that cares more about its whatsapp connectivity than about the people whose pieces were burning as they panicked over them not able to stalk their ex’s last seen status. I understand you want to move on quickly, Lebanon. But aren’t you moving on a little too quickly sometimes?