Bullying The Voice Kids Finalist Zein Obeid For Being Overweight Is The Most Despicable Of Acts

Zein OBeid The Voice Kids

There are many things taking place in the Middle East today that classify as nauseating and despicable. We live in wars and occupation. We fight extremism, or succumb to it sometimes. We try and manage around squashed liberties and an international community that doesn’t care about our well-being outside of its relation to the oil barrel.

But few things are more despicable and disgusting than bullying a kid online, publicly and en masse.

Zein Obeid is an eleven year old boy from Syria who participated on the first season of The Voice Kids, reaching the finals before losing to Lebanese Lynn Hayek. He was one of the participants to get people talking the most, with one viral performance after the next. His stage persona was that of a total sweetheart, but that did not deter some mindless folk from bringing him down because he was overweight.

Leading up the show’s finale, the following picture circulated on social media to mock Zein:


I didn’t want to share the above picture here, but it’s so wide-spread that I figured having it accompanying a piece where those who came up with it and are sharing it get trashed is not a bad way to do things. It was shared above and beyond by people who figured this was proper joke material. We’re all laughing. Ha ha.

Yes, I am laughing. I’m laughing at the utter and sheer mindlessness of everyone who figured this was a good joke, who decided that publicly making fun of a ten year old in such a way actually constitutes a joke to begin with. I’m laughing at the people who are so insecure and cowardly behind their keyboard-clicking fingers, making fun of someone for being who he is.

Yes, I’m laughing at you for being such disgusting people.

In order to get to The Voice Kids, Zein Obeid had to leave his home in Syria behind and come to Lebanon, a country that has made it near impossible for Syrians to be granted entry. He had to audition in front of a separate jury before being let in front of the coaches where he had to sing for them to be convinced enough to turn their chairs. He then had to go through an elimination process to get to the finals where he was at the mercy of Arab audiences voting. He didn’t end up winning. Imagine how devastating that must feel for an eleven year old, and yet here you are making fun of him just because you’re such a strong warrior behind your computer screen.

In doing what he did on The Voice, Zein entertained nations across the Middle East with his voice and stage presence. That takes an insurmountable amount of courage and pride.

Body shaming people is never okay, let alone when you’re doing it to someone who is only a little boy and whose entire perception of his experience in that talent show is of him doing something worthwhile that he will grow up one day to tell stories about. Why don’t you stand in a mirror, and take a deep long look at yourself before making fun of someone for being whoever they are in their own skin?

You may be making fun of Zein, but he’s the one who’s going to have the last laugh. Zein, if you end up reading this, know this: you are kind, you are so talented, and you are beautiful.

A State of Lebanese Twitter

Lebanon + Twitter

A friend of mine decided to start using Twitter recently. She followed enough people to get a taste of it and stayed on the sidelines, observing our timelines as they got busier and busier with tweets flooding their minutes and seconds, some original while others basically deja-vu.

A week later, the conclusion about the Lebanese Twitter scene that she came up with, by following the people that most of us follow and read, is the following: this is one hell of a hostile environment.

I tried to change her mind. But I wasn’t convinced it wasn’t the situation either. The past few days have not only revealed a hostile environment, they revealed an utterly disgusting infestation that I can’t begin to describe.

People on Twitter are panicking over 140 characters. Let me rephrase that: People are getting hormonal on 140 fucking characters. Do you have any idea how stupid that is? Do you have any notion how utterly ridiculous you sound when you post screenshots of your private messages with the people you want to ridicule just because you have “dirt” on them? Do you know how disgusting you come off when you screenshot your private conversations to use them as material to bully people?

Do you know how moronic it is to make fun of others because they asked for retweets fully knowing that you had also asked for retweets at a certain point? The difference is the people you asked retweets from are actually decent enough creatures not to spread your laundry for everyone to see.

The courtesy doesn’t seem to go both ways.

Some Lebanese on Twitter feel proud lately about them ridiculing teenagers, getting them feel insecure – basically bullying the bejeezus out of them. They are proud to have started Twitter wars. The Twitter community isn’t much different from its offline counterpart. And what for?

Because of a stolen tweet? Because those people are not original? Because they delete tweets? Because they tricked their way into followers? Because you think they’re dicks?

News flash: bullying, which is what many of you are doing, is not original.

The Lebanese Twitter community is witnessing a growing infestation of bullies. They are people who take pleasure in bashing others for the fun of it. As one twitter user put it on Sunday, they must check their dicks after each bullying tweet to see if it got longer. There must be an association there somehow, I’m willing to bet. And they can somehow fathom coming up with excuses to their bullying. They’re proud of it. They don’t hide it. “Nfokho” is what you get when you point it out.

Bullying cannot ever be justified, let alone when it’s about a reason as silly, as retarded, as stupid as one tweet.

You’re annoyed by someone “stealing” your oh-so-original tweets? Make it known. You’re annoyed by someone’s tweets or by the fact that they delete their tweets? That unfollow button is bigger than Jennifer Lopez’s ass. You’re annoyed by someone who’s annoying you? Block them. You don’t want to get anything from them anymore effectively making their presence non-existent? Turn off retweets. Mute them as handles, mute them as keyword, mute them as hashtag. Mute the hell out of them and just cross that bridge.

But wait. Some of you are STILL stalking those that you block. Masochism much? Are you so fixated on bringing people down that you can’t seem to move the fuck on?

I’d post some of the tweets inundating my timeline but I don’t want to give the many attention-seeking people behind them the attention they crave.

Here’s some perspective for those concerned, especially those who see a tweet getting stolen as the next coming of doomsday. I go to the hospital every day at 7:30AM. I deal with dying patients and children all day. I see grief and horror and people dealing with it on daily basis. We had to tell our patient’s mother yesterday that her bundle of joy will not live to see the tender age of 5. Then I come back home and check Twitter only to find some people acting like prepubescent teenagers with surging hormones who panic over the most meaningless of things, who treat Twitter like some holy shrine, who don’t view a tweet as just a tweet: 140 miserable characters to communicate an idea. Not to get you popular. Not to get you famous. Not to turn you into a major star, its only purpose being for you to have fun, to make friends, to let off some steam.

Isn’t that why those “major” Twitter accounts whose asses many are all hell-bent on kissing simply couldn’t care less about people stealing their tweets, about people calling them unoriginal and about many flooding them with sheer negativity and bullying and dimwittedness?

The Lebanese state of Twitter recently has sucked the fun out of what used to be a decent place for people to have decent exchanges. I met my best friend on it so I would know. People worry more about the number of retweets their tweet would get than about the things they should be worrying about. They worry about the copyright status of a joke that has been milked all the way from Mercury to Saturn. They get up in a fit about the most meaningless, worthless of things.

News flash 2.0: that internet explorer New Year joke has existed ever since Internet explorer became a source of jokes. Just an FYI for the wise asses who think their nostrils drool originality.

The only thing some people have turned Twitter into is a typical old fashioned catfight between two matriarchs in some Lebanese town who are arguing about whose progeny is first in his class. It’s downright childish, despicable and horrifying. And there are still people who look at the people on Twitter as the sign of a better future. Screw that future if this is a sample of the ride we’re in.

Here’s to those awesome people who don’t get a surge of testosterone behind the shroud of an online handle.

Bullying in Lebanese Schools

When I was in my early teens, I was constantly bullied at school. It used to bother me at first. Those words hit a spot at first. And then that spot hardened.

And I just didn’t care anymore. The insults kept coming as I grew older. And I didn’t care even more. They eventually stopped when those “friends” decided they had better things to do. But I was lucky because some people never decide they have better things to do.

That’s what’s happening to someone I really care about now in his last year of school. The words keep coming and those classmates, with their better than thou attitude, keep going unpunished. And it has been going on for a few years now.

How long should we tolerate until our schools step their foot down in the face of bullying? Why is it that the person I care about has to consider changing schools to escape the toxic environment spread by two assholes while the easiest thing would be to expel those two bastards?

Why is it that the victim of bullying in Lebanon has to be turned into submission even by the school? Why is it that our schools, with their “we are such a good environment for you kid” attitude, don’t actually care about being a good environment for the kid and turn a blind eye to what’s happening in the heart of classrooms with their beyond docile measures if faced by the kid’s parents?

The thing people tell a bullying victim is that it gets better. You tell them that those kids will always be kids. You tell them they’ll soon change. You’ll tell them that they will find people who will see them for what they are: awesome people. And they won’t believe you. And they’ll think you’re just lying to make things better.

But it really does.

My uncle was a victim of bullying. He’s now a top shot doctor in the United States, making more money than his entire class combined.

I was a victim of bullying and I now write one of the most read blogs in Lebanon in between my studies at medical school. I can’t say the same for most of those “friends.”

My late uncle was bullied because an accident when he was younger led to him losing an eye. And despite him being a brilliant student at school – they even got him to skip one class – he had to drop out because he couldn’t take it anymore. And still he managed to do well with the little time he had by making a family and starting a business that is booming today.

I have a friend who faced the same bullying because of a medical condition during middle school. And things didn’t let down until he found a bunch of friends mature enough to understand what he was going through. He’s now a top notch architect.

And the person I care about? He’ll soon go to a university that those assholes would never dream of entering and he’ll become a success in the field that he chooses.

And we’ll all go back to our school reunions and tell those suckers: Fuck you. With emphasis on every single letter. Because, well, fuck them and their demented brainless heads.

And fuck those schools that never empower the victim for fear of losing the tuition of other students. Because that’s how you build a country: by letting the weak ones be weak forever and letting the “strong” ones feel strong. Always.

Congratulations Lebanese education, you teach people three languages and a shitload of math they won’t need. But you don’t teach them compassion or tolerance or anything that they would benefit from later on. I salute you and your teachers.

Sticks and stones can break my bones but names never hurt? Yes, it’s always easy to preach. But my advice to those being bullied is the following: don’t always turn a blind eye and deaf ear as you hurt inside.

Skyscraper (Single Review) – Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato is not a typical artist that I’d listen to. On the contrary, she’s quite far from my cup of tea. Disney star, you automatically assume she’s in the same group as Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and other stars of the same franchise. However, unlike them, life hasn’t always been peachy for Demi. I refuse to believe that Miley’s current “problems” are really problems and Selena Gomez having to suffer because of Justin Bieber’s rabid fanbase doesn’t exactly count.

Demi, however, has had to fight bulimia and body issues and bullying, which led her to cutting. Keep in mind that she’s only 18. And it’s in that context that the artist presents her latest single: Skyscraper.

She starts the piano-driven song with a weak whisper: “Skies are crying, I am watching… catching teardrops in my hands. Only silence as it’s ending like we never had a chance. Do you have to make me feel like there’s nothing of me?”

But even with her pain and weakness, she tries to say that nothing can bring her down on the chorus: “you can take everything I have. You can break everything I am, like I’m made of glass, like I’m made of paper. Go on and try to tear me down, I will be rising from the ground like a skyscraper…”

As she finishes the first chorus, she gains strength that goes into the song’s second verse: “As the smoke clears, I awaken and untangle you from me. Would it make feel better, to watch me while I bleed? All my windows, still are broken. But I’m standing on my feet,” before delivering a stronger rendition of the chorus.

Then she goes to the song’s bridge, which is also another step up in the vocal strength department. “Go run, run, run, I’m gonna stay right here, watch you disappear,” she fiercely sings. “Go run, run, run, yeah, it’s a long way down but I’m closer to the clouds up here,” before she goes into a final rendition of the song’s chorus that starts off with a whisper before she goes full on vocally in what could only be described as an overwhelmingly emotional conclusion. You can feel her voice somewhat break off in tears towards the end.

And it’s precisely that. Skyscraper is the progression of the person who has been wronged. You start off trying to make sense of your problem, rightfully convincing yourself that you’re not the one mistaken here. But even though you’re the one in the right, you are still weak. But as you go on, you gain strength. You realize that you’re not a two-story house that anyone can bring down, you’re a full-blown skyscraper that touches the skies. You realize your own strength.

And it’s because it’s deeply personal that Skyscraper simply works. And it works brilliantly. Demi Lovato emotes with ease because the song reflects her struggle. Even without hearing the lyrics, you can deduce the song’s contents from her impeccable delivery. And it is precisely from her pain and anguish that something like Skyscraper can raise.

Skyscraper may not be the most radio-friendly song for any artist to have as their lead single. But with something like this, who cares? For all matters and purposes, one would be proud to buy a song like Skyscraper, a song that is brimming to the tip with essence and emotion.

Demi recently tweeted that this single is more than a song for her. She said the strength the song represents of the journey she has been on would give other people who are going through dark moments as well the faith and inspiration to face their problems like she did. And even though it’s just a song, the power that Skyscraper represents is the ability to make you feel better. The best analogy for this song would be a phoenix rising from the ashes. By the end, it flies away to the clouds where no one can try to damage it.

Listen to Skyscraper:

Bullying in Lebanon

I was sitting in a class yesterday when an openly gay guy sat next to me. I’m not very good friends with him (I barely know him) but he seems like a cool guy. I know of at least one incidence after an exam where he was more caring about how my friend and I had performed than many people we know.

So the desk he sat at had the following scribbles: [His name] is gay.

The guy took it with humor. He doesn’t care and the people that care about him don’t care either. He took his pen and scribbled down: And proud. He then signed.

I, however, felt bad for him. I have no idea why but I got the feeling that he put on this facade of the non-caring person who ridicules these kinds of insults, but on the inside he was hurt.

A similar thing happened with another person I know, who was forced to come out because of bullying. Everyone started to make fun of him (and imagine your whole age group making fun of you). But he still held his head high and went through it. While I have some reservations on many things this person did, I have to admit that he was being, in a way, bullied.

Bullying in Lebanon – and other countries for that matter – has always been against those perceived as weaker than us, be it racially, sexually, religion-wise, etc….

So just let me say this. Bullying does not make you a better person – on the contrary, it makes you ridiculous. Whether you enjoy the little surge in power that you get when you make someone lesser than you feel bad, just know that this lesser person is the better person and better people are the people who ultimately get the good jobs, the nice girlfriends (or boyfriends) and lead the better life.

So if you’re a bully, take a minute to ponder how horrible you’d feel if the same things you’re doing to those you are bullying are being done to you.

And as final food for thought: aren’t we all bullies? haven’t we all made fun – at certain points – of people that we see as “lesser” than us?