Last blog post directly addressing the fake virtual revolution

Posted: August 8, 2011 in Active youth citizenship, Anti-stereotyping/racism/xenophobia, Youth Issues, [Social] Media

This is going to be my last blog post referring to the Aljazeera debate simply for the fact that I’m giving too much attention to the faceless and nameless, definitely more attention than they deserve. If they were at all influential within Eritrea or among the majority of the Eritrean Diaspora, maybe they would deserve more of my time. But alas, they are insignificant. The only reason why I’ve even taken the time to write this blog post is because there are some obvious lessons that can be learned from an analysis of the situation.

Invasion of Privacy… and for what?

Despite changing my Facebook settings to ‘private’ and limiting the access to my pictures to just Facebook friends, there has been some youth who have accessed my pictures in an attempt to ridicule me. VERY FUNNY STUFF! One particular picture album that has been targeted is an album of an Easter vacation I took a couple of years ago to the islands of Eritrea’s Dahlak Archipelago. The assumption I guess is that I receive some sort of privileges to be able to take a vacation in my own country. Or maybe the assumption is that I earn enough money to go on frequent vacations to the islands. Either way, the uproar that this has apparently caused is quite awkward. Many derogatory comments were made about my pictures (despite their G-rated nature) and none of the insults have fazed me in the slightest. However, I would like to write about them to bring up some apparent realities in the hypocrisy of freedom of expression.

I have been called an opportunist, narrow-minded and brainwashed person, and what’s worse, some have even resorted to call me gender related derogatory terms. I will not repeat the insults but you can guess what one would call a female if they wanted to insult her. Some have even jumped the gun by saying I was able to buy my vacation with the blood of our youth (???) without taking into consideration that maybe, just maybe I had saved enough money from my measly paychecks in order to fund my trip (and this would make me selfish?).

They say I will pay a price for this dearly (LOL!), youth who say they are watching and listening from their computer monitors. One female even repeated the words of the frantic males who took some of my pictures (without my permission) in a weak attempt to gain some political clout, calling me ‘a political hooker.’ I wish she was politically conscious enough to realize that if guys see no problem in calling me such things, they will have no problem using the same terms to talk about her. It’s too bad that all of this chauvinistic political talk has never taken into consideration the female perspective, gender equality or women rights.

Such ad-hominem attacks are extremely lame! The same people who pretend they are calling for freedom of expression and freedom of thought are hypocrites; they only want freedom of expression when it’s coming from someone who thinks like they do. When confronted about their irrational and uncivilized behavior, they claim they are displaying their democratic right and freedom of expression by insulting me. It’s this exact act of losing control over their emotions that tell us why such people are so limited in number and lack any sense of unity in their so-called virtual revolution.

It’s crazy how some people will take a certain comment, misinterpret it completely, and then use it to make politically incorrect comments to ‘strengthen’ their already very weak debate points. These are the things for the tabloids; sadly for such personalities, the realities on the ground are very different from their Hollywood style of analyzing things.

One faceless, nameless Facebook character says he really believes I was monitored during The Stream debate because my phone line was ‘interrupted’. Respecting the fact that different people can have different perspectives while viewing narrowly through their computer monitor, I’m just awfully curious as to why the other guy that I was debating with had his video stream interrupted during most of the show. Could the Eritrean government have interrupted his line as he was debating from Indiana, USA? LMAO!

In an attempt to justify their actions, some have used the excuse that I could always make my pictures private. Weird enough, my Facebook pictures are set on private and only my Facebook friends can see them. Is it possible that I have some Facebook friends who are not really my friends? Although I have some 1800 Facebook friends, I am still selective when I add them. Usually, if they are an Eritrean youth from the Diaspora who seem interested in their country, I add them thinking that they might have questions or that they would take interest in the things I post about Eritrea. I have more than 400 friend requests that I haven’t even touched yet and awkwardly enough, some of those who have written hate mail to me or have written derogatory comments about me have friend requested me. Message to the haters that think I would give them access to my Facebook: GET LOST!

In the near future, I will post a blog about the fake personalities who lure the youth to accept their friend requests while posing as Eritrean celebrities. In regards to my own pictures, although it is a clear violation of my privacy, I just feel really sorry for those who resort to such measures. They should however understand that unlike them, I have absolutely nothing to hide in the first place.

Desperate attempts to promote one’s agenda

Taking words, comments, and situations completely out of context will not allow anybody to push whatever agenda they are trying to push. And the fact that this approach is used to mobilize youth (even if it is just virtual mobilization) is quite disturbing. Despite what their agenda might be, surely it’s better to side with the truth and not to take statements out of context in order to fit their narrow agenda.

The upgrade of Facebook groups has made it very easy for people to easily monitor and update themselves on group activities. Before, one would have to actually go out of their way to see and participate in Facebook groups by frequently visiting the group page. Unfortunately, this upgrade has done little to strengthen ties between those who are actually involved in a real cause. It has further made the amount of participation and input on issues weaker by making commitment requirements even smaller. Consequently, there are many who are under the illusion that frequent postings and commenting on Facebook groups actually means that their movement is getting stronger. And in this particular situation, they actually think that their movement is becoming more enlightened or more unified because some are quick at posting tasteless comments.

Word to the immature: It’s probably best that you uphold some sense of integrity by posting valid and informative things in regards to your agenda instead of wasting everybody’s time insulting one single individual.

The question of representation

Through the hate mail and feedback I have been receiving lately, comments were made about this Mussie Zena, saying that he represents Eritrean youth and is the voice of the voiceless. Let’s take a moment to really analyze this:

–          I have never heard of the guy prior to the debate and everybody I’ve asked have no idea who he is, including youth who reside in the United States.

–          From what I do know about him, he is not a representative of a youth organization. He’s the supposed chairperson of an opposition organization, but only for that particular state, the State of Indiana. Those who say he represents Eritrean youth are only saying this out of pure emotion. Surely he isn’t a representative of the youth where it matters—Eritrean youth who live in Eritrea. I would bet money that there aren’t any youth in Eritrea who even know who he is. Maybe he has some relatives and friends in Eritrea that know him in person, but there aren’t any youth or any structure/institution that knows who he is, let alone considers him a representative. If there are any youth in Eritrea that saw that episode of The Stream, they would have been hearing and seeing him for the first time. And if they would Google his name to figure out who he is, they would have easily come to understand that Mussie is someone who enjoys attending meetings and conferences in Ethiopia. That by itself would have infuriated any young person living in Eritrea—there is no way in hell that someone who sides and cooperates with the Woyane regime could ever represent Eritrean youth.

–          The claim that this no-body is the voice of the voiceless is absurd. As far as I know, those youth who live abroad and side with the opposition are much more vocal and get more airtime in Ethiopian media channels, youtube and what-have-you than the youth inside Eritrea. One might see this as a phenomenon of access, but let the truth be known—international media just doesn’t care to report on anything positive about Eritrea. They really don’t care what the youth in Eritrea have to say; they just want to report on the ‘juicy’ stories so as to up their ratings. Moreover, as we Eritreans aren’t very good at promoting ourselves, I honestly believe that those who are actually involved in revolutionary change are indeed too busy making these changes than to be on Facebook and/or Twitter the whole day reporting on their efforts.

I seriously don’t give a damn about this Mussie Zena or any of the people who are targeting me with all of the uncalled for personal attacks. The only reason why I even mention this guy in this blog is because it is important for all Eritrean youth to understand that no-names are lying to media channels saying that they represent them. There are people lying, saying they represent the voiceless when indeed they frequently fly to Ethiopia to take part in meetings/conferences that try (and failed) to mobilize youth to take up arms against their brothers and sisters at home.

Awkward Stereotyping

Many questions and claims of who I am as a person have showed itself on Facebook. People have asked if I really do live in Eritrea, and I’ve received hate mail that presumes I have dual citizenship (the former true, the latter false). One pretty nice thread even went on to say, after being loaded with insults, that I at least have the courage to use my real name and to use real pictures of myself. I just don’t understand why such people are taking so much time to try to figure out who I am as an individual… who cares anyway?

There is one girl on Facebook who accessed my profile picture and posted it under the caption ‘Cage of Monkeys.’ I honestly feel very sorry for her as she posted a picture of me on a bus with a bunch of orphans and youth from both the Diaspora and our youth workers’ branch. The picture was taken on a day that we took the orphans out for a day of fun in commemoration of Eritrea’s Martyrs Day. I don’t know why she referred to the picture as a cage or why she referred to the people in it as monkeys, but obviously this individual has some serious issues. This is a typical example of what the fake virtual revolution is like—they see a picture or article and automatically bash it if it for any reason can depict a positive image of Eritrea and/or the youth’s efforts in actively participating in the development of their country. I had checked to see if the girl who posted the picture was my Facebook friend so that I could block her; she isn’t a Facebook friend. I couldn’t help to notice that on her public profile, she said she went to Keih Bahri Comprehensive Secondary School (just like I did) and that she was the class of 2000 (just like I was). Does this chick actually know me? If so, why would she resort to acting so low and immaturely? I couldn’t see any pictures of her so I don’t know what she looks like. She does use a name for her Facebook, but as far as I know, she is faceless (literally and figuratively speaking).

One very funny comment was made when someone started to spread a rumor about there being a picture on Facebook of me kissing a guy. HILARIOUS! Someone responded to it saying “NOW I WANT TO SEE THAT KISSING PICTURE!” So pathetic! For the guy who’s so curious to see that picture: the only Facebook picture that I can think of that remotely resembles any type of kissing is one where I’m jokingly pretending to kiss a fish. Sorry to dampen your excitement!

There are many Facebook personalities out there that use completely false identities and I can’t help to wonder if they are even Eritrean because their actions are so deceiving. Say anything that depicts Eritrea in the slightest positive light and they attack you. Live outside of Eritrea and they’ll wage psychological warfare against you to make you feel guilty for not doing national service; then tell them that you have done your national service and they will undermine your opinion saying that you are brainwashed. Those who are even able to make slightly valid political points (very rare) make very outdated points, which makes me think that if there is a chance that they had ever lived in Eritrea, it was quite a long time ago. Otherwise, they are just repeating the same old rhetoric of TPLF propaganda and the never-ending campaign of certain media channels to blacken Eritrea’s image (i.e. they never take a moment to report on the fact that Eritrea is the only country in the Horn that is not experiencing a famine threat, or that Eritrea is one of the leading countries in sub-Sahara Africa to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, etc, etc.). Eritrea surely has her fair share of challenges; I just wish these people would talk more about how to find viable solutions for these challenges instead of taking any and every weak shot they can to undermine our country.

If people are truly leaving their country for political reasons, then why are the same people who asked for political asylum (to get their papers) celebrate Eritrean Independence Day and Eritrean festivals organized by those who support the Eritrean government? If they hated their country so much, then why are so many currently paying the 2% tax despite having left illegally? Why has it been just about impossible for the opposition to mobilize the youth to take up arms against their own people, despite all of the empty promises they make to them (getting them papers to leave Ethiopia or the Sudan, getting them scholarships to go to school, sponsoring them to go to the west, etc.)? I know of one young man who even visited Eritrea early this year with the aim of using the education (Masters degree) he gained abroad to contribute to Eritrea’s development. Although he had left illegally, he came back to Eritrea with no problem, visited development sites for a month, and went back to continue his studies all with the aim of coming back to Eritrea to seriously contribute to her development.

Anyway, I’m not going to blog about the faceless and nameless anymore; it’s truly a waste of time. It’s as much of a waste of time as it is to post other people’s Facebook pictures to spread insults instead of talking about the real issues that affect real people on the ground.

PS. Quite surprised that my blog managed to get a whopping 1,975 hits over the weekend. Stay tuned for blog posts about real issues and real life situations… no more blogs that directly address the nameless and faceless.

OH! And for those who are wondering, I do own an iPod (a friend had given it to me). What better way to listen the great songs that came out on Eritrea’s 20th anniversary of independence?! Special shot out to Jamal Romadan for his great song (MY FAVORITE) ‘Gezana’!!

  1. therealrahel says:

    It’s okay to decide to keep anonymous, but to purport so much drama about doing things and then to personally bash people using ad-hominem tactics without having the courage to show one’s face is not okay. Our God given rights can be taken from us only if we decide that those rights actually lies in the hands of someone else. The most a person can do with a right is to choose to exercise it or not.

  2. wedi chentro says:

    It was about time I finally arrived at your blog Rahelina. I have always wondered why we africans even think fo a second about the world rather than puttin all our time and energy on the issues that only applies africa and africans. Then I do know that with GOD’S blessing Africa will be at peace. Question is how do we accomplish that mission? anyway may GOD bless you and keep you safe and keep it up.

    • therealrahel says:

      Thank you for commenting on my blog… and thank you for asking such a valid question!

      How can we accomplish our mission in bringing peace to Africa? Well, first of all, we need to acknowledge the true power we have and work together in dignity! Oh so often, we only hear negative things about Africa, ‘the Black continent’, and all the news suggests that there is no hope for Africa. As African youth, we need to challenge this negative perception and reverse the psychological warfare waged on us to make us think there is no hope. THERE IS HOPE! We also have to acknowledge our power to solve our own problems without any foreign or external intervention. Again, we are told that we cannot solve our own problems; that we need ‘mediators’ from the west. This is not true! We can solve our problems ourselves simply because nobody knows our problems more than we do!

  3. 1,975 hits!? thats a lot. but Rahel, as a brother, The reason many are mad is because they feel insulted. I mean we are all responsible for what we say and you cannot just insult someone and expect it to just go away, especially when you speak representing an organization. Would you sit in a room full of refugees, look at their eyes and tell them they left looking for extravagant luxury fooled by Hollywood style perfect West… etc. Do you know most are soldiers who fought for five, ten years in the fronts. They owe the government not the other way… but your views are I think insensitive, as much as writing you hate letters is insensitive.

    • therealrahel says:

      Please do see the video of The Stream episode again, and do read what I wrote in terms of why young people leave their country. I did not say that they leave in order to get iPods… in fact, I said that they already have access to such things. The point I was trying to make was that Eritrean youth are just like any other youth who are exposed to globalization. Just because Alec Wek misinterpreted my comment doesn’t necessarily mean that I was being insensitive. She thought I was being insensitive because she misinterpreted what I said. If you pay close attention to the video, you will also notice that I had corrected her misinterpretation by saying that I didn’t say people are leaving for electronic devises and that there are plenty of real challenges in Eritrea.

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