Slut Shaming & Public Crucifixion: How Lebanon Handled A Nursing Student’s Instagram Caption

Memories of a garbage crisis that is still as is over 8 months after it began are distant now in the country that is in upheaval, outrage, uproar, you name it… over a nursing student’s Instagram caption.

For reference, a nursing student on her way to become a midwife at Université St. Joseph posted to her 14,000+ Instagram followers a selfie of her in pink scrubs, indicating her tenure at Hotel Dieu de France, the hospital with which USJ deals in medical and nursing fields, with the caption: “Be careful bitches, we can kill your babies one day.”

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Despite her account being private, albeit privacy must be extremely futile when you’re sharing posts with over 14,000 people, the picture soon made itself onto the Lebanese blogosphere, and the response has been deafening. In a matter of hours, the girl has been expelled from her university with her entire future up in tatters. If anything can be used as an example as to how careful you need to be on social media, it’s her story.

For starters, what this girl did is abhorrent. Her caption is a disgrace to her profession and to the medical field of which she hoped to become part one day, unlikely as that may be now. There’s no nice way to spin this. This goes against every principle in medical ethics that she’s exposed to, against every oath that either nurses or doctors are obliged to swear before starting their careers, and, in non-medical terms, against all rules of compassion that a human being should have.

But in the grand scheme of things, it remains a fucked up Instagram caption by a young, naive girl who didn’t think it through, who was chasing some attention (as is obvious by the 290+ likes as of screenshot time), and who didn’t know that silly, useless and horrific jokes, when said by people whose impact when it comes to those jokes can be tangible, tend to backfire.

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The girl’s university was quick to respond. She has been expelled. I believe expulsion is an extremely harsh punishment for such an offense. Suspension with a public apology would have been the better way to go, especially that the girl hasn’t actually affected any woman giving birth or her babies, and will probably never be able to given the fact that midwives in hospitals don’t have that level of authority that belongs to doctors only, which she is not.

Regardless of where you stand regarding the punishment this girl received, one thing has to be discussed in the aftermath: the Lebanese public’s response was as horrific as her caption. It was akin to watching a mob lynching an unsuspecting passerby.

As I combed through online responses to the tens of thousands of shares that screenshot got, people of all kinds were united in either calling her a whore, saying that the only job she’d be fit to do was to be a stripper, attacking her looks by alluding to her undergoing prior plastic surgeries, throwing threats at her, among other things. And the constellation of those “comments” and “tweets” is nothing short of disgusting as well.

Say what you want about her caption, but to attack a person in such a systematic and public way, to call them whores and sluts and retarded over and over again is not only unacceptable, but clearly not the best way for any society or community to deal with such a thing. Doing this to this girl means you wouldn’t have an issue others doing it to you in case you fall in the cracks like she did. Are we supposed to go through our entire social media presence now because someone out there might decide that something we posted a long time ago could turn into a viral public shaming post? The idea terrifies me.

The fact of the matter is that girl’s joke, bad as it was, would always be just a joke and never a threat. Your children’s futures are more threatened today by the situation in the country than by an Instagram caption, but that doesn’t outrage you enough. Your babies are more threatened by the carcinogens filling your food and water and air from the garbage crisis and other kinds of pollution than by that girl’s Instagram caption. And yet here we are today, with a silly joke getting the country up in arms.

Lebanon, you have your priorities very well sorted.

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#ThisIsLebanon: Showing The Beauty Of The Country We Come From & Trying To Keep It

 

Lebanon is a gorgeous country. It takes an effort – at least for me – to try and see that in absolute value sometimes, but I can’t deny that there are instances where I can’t but marvel at the beauty of the country we call home.

To drive this point home and to encourage us to keep this country as such, or even make it better, Rani Nasr and Samah el Kadi, two aspiring Lebanese filmmakers, decided to do what they love best and make weekly videos highlighting beautiful landscapes in the country.

They just released the first video in the series, filmed in the Chouf mountains:

The next videos are filmed in various other locations in the country such as Tannourine, Ehden, Chahtoul, The Cedars, etc. As mentioned previously, they will be released in a weekly manner on this Facebook page (link).

Making the videos, however, was not as easy as just holding a camera and roaming around a beautiful forest or mountain. Due to Lebanese people being as they are, Rani Nasr informed me that he had to personally pick up garbage from entire landscapes just to be able to show how beautiful the place was and take a decent shot of it.

Not only is the nature we have left endangered by rabid urbanization, but also by people who can’t appreciate how beautiful it is and think that throwing their garbage wherever they may be is the way to go. You see, we are not victims of living in garbage. It is our choice. We chose for years to be a populace that litters all around, damaging the environment, helpless animals and ultimately ourselves. We also chose not to go back to what we know, our politicians, instead of what we need, a new system, when Beirut was drowning in garbage. We also chose to turn a blind eye to where the garbage filling Beirut’s streets is now being thrown.

He also told me about hunters roaming those areas just to kill deer and wildcats, either for BBQ purposes or to collect trophies on their walls. I had no idea Lebanon’s forests actually had deer, but it seems they do.

The biggest threat to our nature is us. How about we change that? Two things you can do that would help immensely are the following:

  1. Don’t throw your garbage anywhere and everywhere,
  2. Don’t kill harmless animals just because you’re bored.

I asked Rani if they intend to turn the #ThisIsLebanon movement into a #LiveLoveBeirut or #LiveLoveLebanon-esque entity, and he said no: it was just them doing what they loved, movies, to show what they loved, Lebanon’s nature. As such, they will not be monetizing off of it.

What they hope to accomplish is for their films to inspire people to want to see more of their country, to want to preserve the beauty and take positive steps in that direction: visit Lebanon’s natural reserves and help to preserve the forests by supporting them, not litter everywhere you go, marvel in the beauty of the country you live in and share it with whoever wants to see.

To end this on a more positive note, I figured I’d share a few pictures of the beauty of this country, with or without the hashtag #ThisIsLebanon, to drive the point home. The instagram accounts of the corresponding pictures will be mentioned in their caption, as well as their respective location.

You can follow the accounts here:

There’s a lot of beauty in the country beyond the confines of everyone’s Beiruti comfort zones. Go explore, return with beautiful pictures and change yourself and the country one beautiful landscape at a time. #ThisIsLebanon, and it’s worth discovering.

 

Kawalees Beirut: Lebanon’s Funniest Instagram Account

In such times, a laugh is needed every now and then and I hope the content of this post entertains you as much as it entertained me when I saw it.

Kawalees Beirut

New to the Lebanese internet scene is an Instagram account (link) and Facebook page (link) called Kawalees Beirut. Caline Kajouni, a friend of mine, and with the help of two of her friends: Taline and Patrick, decided to re-create many of the scenes we’re exposed to as Lebanese and put a twist to them.

What if, for instance, you could take a jab at all those Lebanese series where people are in makeup and cocktail dresses all the time even when they go to bed?

What if you could do to that friend who’s stealing your fries exactly what you had in mind as you saw their fingers slither on the table towards your plate?

What if you could do to that doctor who doesn’t listen and wants to compensate for all his years of not making money exactly what you thought of as they wrote you a panadol perscription?

The trio try to answer such questions of our lives and more in extremely funny and short videos that they’re posting on their pages.

My favorite is by far the one about normal Lebanese versus Lebanese in series waking up from sleep:

Normal people waking up VS Waking up in Lebanese TV series.

A post shared by Kawalees Beirut (@kawaleesbeirut) on

 

Another hilarious one is what happens when you step on a Birkenstock, which is admittedly much more painful than stepping on anything else:

 

Whoever said stepping on Lego is painful never stepped on a Birkenstock. Featuring @vkurumilian and @hrag10

A post shared by Kawalees Beirut (@kawaleesbeirut) on

 

Or how to handle the latest heat-wave we got:

When there's a heat wave in Lebanon.

A post shared by Kawalees Beirut (@kawaleesbeirut) on

 

Or when you have a friend who never shuts up (guilty as charged):

That annoying friend that just keeps talking and talking.

A post shared by Kawalees Beirut (@kawaleesbeirut) on

 

Or when you don’t wanna give your car to the valet parking service:

That friend who always refuses to give the car to the valet.

A post shared by Kawalees Beirut (@kawaleesbeirut) on

 

Or when pesky Arabic tirashrash music wakes you up from your Sunday nap:

When you're trying to nap on a Sunday afternoon and this happens.

A post shared by Kawalees Beirut (@kawaleesbeirut) on

 

Or when your friends are trying to converse at a bar:

Your reaction when someone's talking to you in a pub and you can't hear a thing.

A post shared by Kawalees Beirut (@kawaleesbeirut) on

 

There are many more videos where those came from. You can check out their Instagram page here and their Facebook page here. They’re already up to over 3500 followers between both pages so you know they’re up to something really good.

This is the kind of comedy that I think we need more of in this country: something not cliche, full of humor and with a sarcastic take on our daily lives. Lebanese comedians, take note: three people who have nothing to do with your field are giving you a few lessons.

Instagramming A Suicide Bomber

#Instabomb.

I’ve been wondering if our media salivates like Pavlov’s dog when they get wind of yet another explosion takes place in this country. Their coverage sure always sounds like a kid who was given a new shiny toy on Christmas morning: relentless, excited, carefree, all over the place and – more importantly – chaotic.

I, for one, live in lala land. As a consequence, I’m becoming more or less ignorant as to what’s taking place around me politically. I’d like to think of it as a blessing in disguise. It feels good not to know sometimes. What’s constant throughout my enforced ignorance, however, is people always telling me about the horrors they’ve been seeing on television as if the explosions we all have to withstand were not enough: we are also being forced to get desensitized to the charred remains of human beings.

Social media has done wonders to Lebanese media. It has given them more ways to communicate, made them more approachable and has gotten them to become slowly but surely in competition with lesser known forms of media that could be faster at getting news out there. But when is taking social media while reporting news way too far?

Say you want to Instagram a suicide bomber’s remains, what filter would you use?

Yes, that question may be completely absurd but a Lebanese TV station basically did just that a couple of days ago when they posted on their Instagram account the remains of the suicide bomber who detonated himself in Choueifat. I’m not an Instagram expert but is that filter “valencia?”

You can check out a screenshot of the image here.

I thought I’ve seen all that the media in this country could do. I was wrong. Explosions are horrible but diffusing such material is barbaric in its own right as well. What’s even sadder is that as a culture and country, we are becoming increasingly habituated to seeing such things that a well known TV station figured it was a good idea to snap an Instagram picture and broadcast it for people to “like” and comment in.

What is there to “like” about some terrorist’s unknown body part? What is there to comment on? What form of discussion are we trying to have by constantly exposing whoever has eyes to see to such things?

Like Pavlov’s dog, let them salivate over the next body part they want to Instagram. It’s only a matter of time now till the next “it” thing becomes a selfie with a suicide bomber’s body part. I think the “Hudson” filter would work excellently with that.

[NSFW] Sex: The New Food of Instagram

It is common knowledge that the most shared types of pictures of Instagram are those of meals. Be it their lunch, dinner or breakfast, people just love to snap pictures of their food, apply some filter on it and share it for the whole world to see. I don’t have a problem with that but it has become a running joke with many.

But there’s a new type of “food” that’s making its way around Instagram. And you’ll know what I mean once you see this picture:

I guess we can say someone has been all tied up in the matters of breakfast.

This makes my Instagram pictures (example 1 and example 2) look very mundane. I don’t post much but I cannot begin to fathom sharing any sexual exploits there. I guess I’m too conservative for that. But whatever floats one’s boat.

 

 

The Facebook Camera App: My Impressions

Seeing as I have a US iTunes account, which I dearly cherish, I got to download the Facebook Camera app, currently exclusive for iPhone, before its availability on other stores. So I tested it for a whole day on my iPhone 4S and these are my initial impressions.

It’s pretty fast. Once you launch the app, it takes you immediately to a news feed version for Facebook’s photos. You can see pictures that your friends uploaded and comment on them. This is where the pictures you take will go as well. You can swipe among the pictures your friends were tagged in. Loading the pictures is much faster than the regular Facebook app, which I think is horrible at handling pictures.

Facebook Camera is streamlined enough to post pictures on your Facebook timeline without much effort. Once you take the picture, you’ll get many filters to choose from before sharing your work. Those filters are a total of 14 (apart from normal). You access them by tapping on a brush button similar to that in Apple’s iPhoto app. They are similar to the filters you get in instagram but are named differently, obviously. You can upload pictures in batches, faster than with the regular Facebook app, and in higher resolution.

Once you’ve chosen the filter of choice, you click on the button to post. Now you’re back to familiar territory, similar to the Facebook app for iOS. However, you can actually save a post draft here in case you decided you wanted to save sharing the picture for later. That’s something I hope they add for the regular Facebook app.

Once you share the picture and it uploads, it’ll appear on your timeline as posted from “Facebook Camera.”

Overall, I think it’s an interesting app. I really like the icon, actually. But it’s not quite a home-run. Will it overtake instagram? I doubt that’s Facebook’s intention but they’re not betting right if they think it will. While it has its advantages, such as saving the original picture in your camera roll immediately after taking it, it has its drawbacks as well. For instance, it doesn’t save the modified picture in your camera roll, unlike Instagram.

Instagram has become so ingrained with users that uprooting it will take much more than an app which shares exclusively on Facebook and using it means flooding un-wanting users with pictures of things you find interesting but they have no interest in.

At the end of the day, where Facebook Camera falls short is in it not being a photo-exclusive platform. It comes with the baggage that is “Facebook.” Bonafide photography applications, such as Instagram and Camera+, cater to those who have a hobby for photography. They created an environment where those users can stretch their wings with exotic shots that they wouldn’t necessarily want to share with their Facebook friends.

Facebook Camera caters to the Facebook crowds whose pictures are less interesting than the Instagram crowd. But they are much, much more numerous. For once, however, Facebook has created a mobile app that is actually good. Hopefully that’s a sign of what’s to come for the regular Facebook app.

Brace yourselves, everyone, the Facebook Camera posters are coming.