The Virtual Hug & The 21st Century Hippies
I started to plan the basic elements of this article probably on the 10th or 11th of November, I had something light hearted in mind, something about virtual communities and how content loaders and other aspiring writers are changing the world. I was thinking about how social media have democratised the way we form opinions, express ourselves or channel our emotions. In today’s world we don’t necessarily need institutionalized influencers to speak on our behalf anymore, average runners can run marathons too. With this in mind and not quite sure of the relevance of such an article I went to bed early on the 13th of November.
I rose early on the morning of the 14th after what could be described as a good night sleep. Breakfast transformed itself quickly into a nightmare when I discovered that for the second time this year the city where I was born and lived my formative adulthood years had become the epicentre of absolute horror. The difference this time as opposed to last January is that I did not have to reach anxiously for the phone and check on my elegant Parisian mother.
My mum had flown over to Ireland two days’ prior the attacks to celebrate my son’s birthday and while I checked Facebook for reassurance on the whereabouts of friends and acquaintances I was relieved to see all of them using the new option ‘’marked as safe’’.
As numb as I was, I tried to make sense of the harrowing story unfolding on the English and French speaking channels. I have left Paris almost two decades ago but I still and almost physically remember the sense of a festive community at week-ends, I relate to the geographic aspect of the horror with melancholy, my dad had an office Rue de Charonne and we probably had lunches at one of those restaurants.
Somebody I know has a business Quai De Jemmapes and while I was meant to follow a university cursus in History it is fair to say I spent most of my time with Ahmed and Leilja haunting the concert venues such as the Elysee Montmartre, the Zenith or the…Bataclan. Brilliant times the late 80’s early 90’s I spoke to numerous rock dudes and recorded quite a few Friday interviews on behalf of the fanzine I was writing for.Now is the 21st century and I find myself dealing with a boomerang of emotions and stuck in a moment of great disarray. Way down inside I have always struggled being left with this powerless ‘’so far so close’’ feeling.
The first time I came across the concept of community was thru my avid addiction to The Adventures of Asterix comic books.The series follows the exploits of a village of indomitable Gauls as they resist Roman occupation. They do so by means of a magic potion, brewed by their druid called Getafix in the English translations, which gives the recipient superhuman strength’’. Some say a simplistic view of the bad versus good I kind of see it as a long French tradition encompassing defiance and resistance.
When I grew older I read about the Hippies ‘’a subculture that was originally a youth movement that started in the United States and United Kingdom during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. Hippies created their own communities, listened to psychedelic music, embraced the sexual revolution and used drugs to explore states of consciousness’’
Have we replaced long hair with hoodies and drugs aside have we not become the 21st century hippies with our E- Communities? Bebee.com, LinkedIn, Facebook, Web forums and other platforms have become the tool of choice for various movements. I guess it’s more age agnostic this time around than it used to be and the geographical boundaries have been removed too.
So is it naïve to think this can be used for the good of humanity or is it old fashioned to think we all have a role to play as clicktivist? Is it realistic to think that likes, shares, comments and other blogging forms constitute the backbone of civic engagement?
Personally I think we should, reading an article in the Guardian on how technology obsessed is ISIS, it’s clear other radical movements are technology savvy too.
Hiding in their private chat rooms they are probably failing to deal with the complexity of the world with the violence of their simplistic answers. I have no religion and don’t understand prayers but if I did I guess a few folks will get locked out of heaven .
We need to speak up!!! That said we cannot afford to be binary either, firm without falling into the traps of retaliation. If not only for the fifty kids that lost a parent on this tragic Friday, we need to stand tall and avoid being afraid whether it is counteracting the online propaganda or simply enjoy life.
VIRTUAL HUG ANYBODY ?
Ahmed, Rachid, Wassifi & Leijla
Words hug png
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