Bi Sarahah, That “Sarahah” Website Is A Waste Of Your Time, Sanity & Well-Being

It happens every now and then, on various social media platforms, that websites wanting their users to engage in answering questions submitted anonymously become super popular.

As a Twitter user, I’ve been exposed to such websites for a long time now. A few years ago, it was that had everyone up in arms. Over the past few months, another website called Curious Cat took the cake. Today, Facebook users across Lebanon and the Arab World are discovering a website called “Sarahah” – Arabic for honesty – that does the exact same thing: you set up a profile, advertise for it and whoever wants to ask you or tell you anything can do so anonymously.

The idea may sound tantalizing at first, but anonymity has a way to bring out the worst out of people and you don’t want to submit yourself to that willingly, just because it sounds cute or it’s what everyone else in doing.

I’ve never used those websites, but I’ve seen what my friends and other people I follow get asked. While they might get the occasional adorable message from Mr or Ms. anonymous saying they have a crush on them and it stops at that, more often than not the messages verge on the vitriol and the hurtful and do not involve any of the “constructive criticism” that some people think the website will offer them. I know this firsthand from the comments I get on this blog: the personal attacks are mostly from people under fake names and fake emails.

Exposing yourself to anonymous criticism is not the key to become a “better” person. Computer screens and keyboards give people the ability to say things they’d never tell you to your face. On the contrary, it will only serve to bring you down. Your actual friends would tell you when you mess up or when you have to fix something about the way you’re handling things to your face and don’t actually need a platform for them to do so anonymously. If they don’t do so, then perhaps you have to reassess the sensibilities of that friendship.

On the other hand, strangers whose opinion of you is based on what you post on Facebook or what you tweet are those whose criticism you should take with a pinch of salt. They don’t know you. They’re only sending you those messages because that’s what being anonymous allows them to do.

Moreover, don’t think that these websites are exclusive to your family and friends: anyone with an internet connection can access your profile and submit anything they want to say about you. This opens all the abuse doors you can think of. We might act all macho and non-caring, but we’re all affected by what others say about us to some degree. Do you really want to be willingly bullied by anonymous cowards online who are drowning in their own insecurities and see you as easy submissive prey for them to lash out at?

Don’t waste your time on useless websites which will give you more of a headache than anything else. Use that free time you’re using in thinking such websites can be good for you in things that can actually make you a better person: read up on the world, see what’s happening around you, hang out with your actual friends and ask them their opinion over dinner.

Simply put: if you want honesty, have those who actually know you tell it to your face. Ask your friends to send you messages or texts or Instagram DM’s with that same criticism you’re trying to get from people who may not know you. Don’t think that validation or improvement can come from those who don’t have the guts to tell you, to your face, bi sarahah, whatever they want to say.

MTV Has The Audacity To Claim They’re The Reason Lebanon Had Compassion For Istanbul’s Victims

I take pride in the fact that as individuals on Social Media, we got one of Lebanon’s most watched TV stations to worry so much about its reputation that it tried to discredit us at least three times since Monday.

The first round was during Monday’s episode of Menna w Jerr, when Dolly Ghanem said:

“Social media is what makes a big deal out of nothing. I’m from the war generation and covered worse things than this. but we’ve never been under this much scrutiny. Those criticizing the media as chasing scoops and ratings, yes that guy, isn’t he waiting and seeing how many have shared his words? Isn’t he also running behind scoops and shares?”

I guess Mrs. Ghanem’s annoyance that her lot is being scrutinized by social media is enough proof for us that we’re on the right track. If this scrutiny is going to force them to do their job better, puts them in their place, forces them to try to attack our reputation to preserve theirs, and fail in doing so, then we’re triumphant.

Watch the video here:

The second round of replies came yesterday when they said they chose their right to remain silent against such attacks, but still posted an entire article about the matter (link).

In that article, they compared the campaign they’ve been victims of as nothing more than an orchestrated effort by those who hate their freedom. They also reminded us of the fact that, once upon a time, they were closed down by Syrian-Lebanese authorities because they were very free. Yes, because that has anything to do with the criticism hurled at them, and all other TV stations today, from almost everyone.

You’d think they have the decency, as a supposedly respected institution, to take a moment of self-reflection and see what went wrong, but no that’s not even close to being the case. Instead of listening to the massive outrage at the way they’re handling things, they keep digging a hole for themselves.

And they’re not even done digging that hole yet.

A few minutes ago, MTV posted their second article since deciding to remain silent about the criticism they’ve received. In that article, accompanied by a picture of someone in Elias’ family member weeping, they decry that:

“Those messing around on social media have relaxed by now and stopped preaching…. If it weren’t for us, the media they’re criticizing, Lebanese people wouldn’t have felt this compassion to the victims of Istanbul’s attacks.”

Yes, they had the audacity to say they’re the reason we felt sorry and horrified that other Lebanese had been brutally killed, in cold blood, at the hand of a terrorist, away from home, on a night that should have been one of the best nights of their lives.

There’s despicable, and then there’s this whole other level of deplorable. No, MTV. You are not the reason we felt compassion to Elias, Rita and Haykal. We did because we are human, because we, too, have lost people and know the weight of such losses. We did because death touches us all. We did because they’re our friends, our family members. We did, in spite of you turning their death into a reality TV show.

It doesn’t end there. They try to justify the coverage they did at Elias Wardini’s house by saying that the reporter had forgotten she was a journalist at the family’s home and felt like she was a family member sharing in their grief, and that the quality of live broadcast goes back to the decisions of the station’s administration.

This kind of emotional, sensational rhetoric about a reporter suddenly becoming a family member and forgetting all her professionalism is senseless and the epitome of unprofessionalism. That’s like me saying to the family of a patient I just lost: oh, sorry I couldn’t do the best job that I could. I suddenly forgot I’m a doctor and decided to become a part of your family instead.

It doesn’t end there. They say that: “We were all affected by the tragedy that we wanted the people to mourn with the family, so we could all grieve together. It’s okay if the viewer is touched and cries for the death of his fellow citizens.”

Well, at least they admit it now. So let’s put it bluntly: NO. It’s not okay for you to use the family’s mourning to get the viewer to cry. NO, it’s not okay for you to assume you have to show me their tears for me to need to grieve. NO, it’s not okay for you to assume the role of a stage manager in my emotions and in my life ordering me to cry or laugh.

Moreover, your station’s administration deciding to show Elias’ sister receiving the news of his death, or Rita’s father weeping for his child, or even filming live from the plane carrying the victims home, filming them being taken to hospitals and their homes is the core of the problem.

But things are more rotten than this.

A couple of days ago, I was asked by a very respectable journalist who was not aware I had criticized MTV to give a statement for a news report about Razmi el Kadi. So I did. In about 15 seconds I said: “I’m not aware of whether there’s any legal basis to arrest Mr. El Kadi or not, but his words are not acceptable. There’s a sanctity to death, especially that of your countrymen, to be respected. The location of their death has no bearing on this issue when they’re this innocent.”

Soon after the report aired, a couple of MTV producers decided to subtweet me, calling me a hypocrite, to which I naturally replied that when you do a bad job, you will be called out on it. Someone, however, was way too offended by the fact I was, in 15 seconds, on MTV’s airspace, that they raised the issue with that administration.

Soon enough, the report in question was pulled off YouTube. A few hours later, it was aired on their midnight use re-edited to remove my parts from it. Keep in mind that the issue in question had nothing to do with their coverage, but was of a totally different matter altogether.

I don’t care in the least that my part was removed. But it’s a whole other level of unprofessional when some individuals who work in TV cannot take criticism and when a TV station refuses to host those who’ve criticized it. I mean, just delete yourself.

How childish can you get not only to be upset that you hosted someone who criticized you, but to make the effort – double the work – to re-edit the report and silence them from it? But it’s okay. I must have expected better ideals from a media that wants to advertise itself, in its own words, as “a victim of it being too free.”

But I digress.

MTV, when our Minister of Information Melhem Riachi questions, live on your air, when he questioned the point of you live covering an injured being taken to a hospital, of your coverage from the airplane carrying the victims, of your coverage at the victims’ houses, how can you even try to defend yourself?

MTV, it’s time for you to re-assess yourself. Take a deep look in whatever mirror you have and admit that you’re messing up majorly. Stop digging that hole. It’s too embarrassing.

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.

Dear People of Facebook, Your “Be Like Bill” Stick Figure Memes Are Annoying, Not Funny

2015 was the year of Bitstrips.

2016 is the year of Facebook stickfigures.

Modern art is so minimalistic.

I wish we can have bitsrips back. At least those were visually appealing.

I have no idea who came up with this “Be like….” meme, but I’m getting super close to wishing they had never existed. I don’t know if it’s the case in other countries too, but the Lebanese populace of Facebook is not only milking the aforementioned meme, they’ve turned it into a monster haunting every single one of our timelines.

I’m now wishing I can see your selfies adorned with Nietzsche quotes again. At least those were actually funny.

So for those sharing those “Be Like You” memes, let me tell you the following:

  • No one cares you have a partner and don’t tell people about him or her.
  • No one cares that you can do a hundred push ups and don’t advertise it on social media.
  • No one cares that you’re single and happy about it.
  • No one cares that you’ve turned your life around and didn’t tell everyone.
  • The fact that you are making a meme out of it means you are propagating whatever fact you are proudly telling people you did not advertise.
  • No one wants to be like you (unless you have a billion dollars stashed somewhere).

So, stop the ridiculous memes. Stop sharing screenshots of them that pop up on our timelines even after we blocked the app making them. If you’re that bored, go read a book, go Instagram your meals, go watch some porn, or watch the only thing about Bill worth watching:

Uma Thurman Kill Bill

Rymco’s Big Twitter Mistake

We’ve all used our Twitter or Facebook accounts to communicate with some brands, restaurants and whatnot. The idea of that brand being a few characters away and possibly getting feedback from them is one of those paradigm shifts, at least in Lebanon, when it comes to the relation of companies with their customers. As a result, most of the country’s firms that want to keep up with the time have upped their social media presence and most know that there’s an etiquette with which you should abide, one that doesn’t apply to end users like us.

Patrick Chemali was one of those people contemplating buying a car. He had been considering the new Nissan but didn’t like the ad Rymco, the car’s dealer in Lebanon, had done, as is his right obviously. If you haven’t seen the ad, here it is:

So he took his dislike to Twitter and called the ad lame. Instead of having Rymco inquire more about why he thought the ad was as such in order for them to “improve their services” later on, he was basically told they didn’t care for his opinion while being called an attention seeker. Professionalism much?

Who knew not liking an ad could generate such a response from a supposedly professional firm?

Of course, you won’t find all the above screenshot tweets on Rymco’s timeline now as they have been deleted.

Instead of absorbing a customer who simply did not like the ad, not the car, and tell him that the car was still great or to inquire about what he didn’t like in the ad, Rymco went on the attack and lost him in the process as well as many other clients he would have referred had he received a decent service for the money he wanted to invest in their product. Big mistake.

But maybe they were just drunk on a Friday night?

Update: Rymco apologized and are saying the entire thing was staged with them aiming at bad publicity to get publicity. They’re now offering Patrick a car for the weekend. 

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.

Thoughts On Weinergate


The latest “scandal” to hit US politics has been named Weinergate, a play on the infamous Watergate scandal, involving president Nixon.

For those who don’t know what Weinergate is, here’s a brief description of the events.

Anthony Weiner (that’s his real last name, not a pun) is a democrat representative in the state of New York. A picture of a man in underwear got sent from his twitter account to some woman. Weiner said his account got hacked. A couple of weeks later, cropped pictures of a shirtless Anthony Weiner, which were meant for another woman to see, got leaked also. That afternoon, a press conference was held in which Anthony acknowledged that he had, in fact, sent out those pictures, as well to other more explicit ones. He added that he had been in six inappropriate relationships using social media, that he wasn’t going to resign his seat and that he had his wife’s full support. She’s “the good wife” isn’t she?

Well, soon enough, this whole thing exploded in the US news and media circuit. Everyone was bashing Anthony Weiner, up and down. Parodies about the situation were made and calls for his resignation started (the most recent of which is US president Barack Obama).

What started out as tabloid gossip has turned into an American cultural frenzy, up for discussion whenever by whomever.

But should this whole “scandal” be as big as it is?

I believe not. What Anthony Weiner did is, after all, something that everyone does. Granted, it is a representation of indiscretion and dishonesty, but don’t we all do that? Why the hypocrisy? Haven’t those people, who are bashing Weiner today, sent similar pictures before, except those pictures did not come back to haunt them yet?

With the current cultural atmosphere and political craze, Anthony Weiner was also portrayed as a harasser. I don’t understand that as well. Not only did he not have any power over the women he was sexting (they could have ignored/deleted him anytime) but I believe those women had the upper hand in their virtual relationship. If Weiner was a harasser, then what do you say about he millions who send dirty pictures and receive them?

So as Weinergate gained momentum and attention shifted to it, it also shifted away from things more important than a congressman’s nakedness. After all, how messed up does the American economy need to get before people focus on how badly the current administration is handling it? Or how long do the Americans want to go without a decent healthcare plan before they cry wolf? Or when will Americans notice more intently that their troops haven’t left Iraq?

Sometimes the most hip thing in a political scene is not the one you should be discussing. And weinergate needs to die already – enough overanalyzing a horny man’s behavior.