Tag Archives: Zeid Hamdan

The Week of Commenting Dangerously.

The last week has been what you would call the opposite of a slow news week. It started off last Friday when a delusional terrorist (is there any other kind?) decided to take the lives of 68 innocent people in Oslo. The following day Amy Winehouse was found dead in her apartment at the age of 27. Then, during the week, a beloved Lebanese landmark was supposedly threatened with destruction, and a Lebanese singer was briefly thrown in jail for a song he recorded three years ago.

What do these events have in common? Not much on the face of it. I guess, in a way, they show various aspects of the tragedy of the human condition. Heavy stuff. But on a far simpler level, all these events took over my Facebook news feed over the last few days, and quite rightly so. Where LOLcats, Justin Bieber jokes and wedding photos once reigned supreme, people were now discussing terrorism and addiction.

However, I have some observations I’d like to share. I can almost hear your sigh of exasperation seeping through the screen, but bear with me.

Let’s take the first two events. The day the bombing and subsequent mass-shooting took place in Oslo, I could hardly believe what I was reading. I had to reread the story a few times before it sunk in. This was human atrocity at its basest level. I sent out rather pointless messages to my Norwegian friends, which were more of a sign of shared humanity than anything else. But at this point my news feed remained rather barren. Then, the next day, Amy Winehouse passed away. And suddenly my mini feed was packed full of condolences and heartfelt agony. And this got me rather angry.

A day after no one had reacted to one of the worst terrorist attacks in years, everyone suddenly seemed to be bereft over a celebrity who had been on a path to self-destruction for years. So I posted a status to that effect, wishing for some perspective on the scope of human tragedy. And the comments started pouring in. People angry that I was comparing tragedies that weren’t comparable.

They might not have been comparable as tragedies, but they were comparable on Facebook as entities of concern. I obviously can’t quantify human suffering, but I can quantify responses to it. And the disproportionate amount of people who cared more about Winehouse than about Norway felt rather grotesque.

It seemed to completely exemplify our obsession with celebrity over the past decade. Most of the comments were along the lines of “Amy touched me with her music, and I knew more about her, so it affected me more”. Well I’m sorry, but the day you identify more with a multi-millionaire drug addict than with innocent teenage bystanders, there’s something wrong with the world….

Read More