Lebanon and the 'invasion of idiots'
Social media has provided platforms for expression and helped reflect public opinion
“Social media gives legions of idiots the right to speak when they once only spoke at a bar after a glass of wine, without harming the community,” said Italian writer Umberto Eco, who passed away last month. “Then they were quickly silenced, but now they have the same right to speak as a Nobel Prize winner. It’s the invasion of the idiots.”
Social media has provided platforms for expression and helped reflect public opinion, yet the expression “invasion of the idiots” seems right most of the time. Is this not proven by the hashtags people use? We confront this truth almost daily. In Lebanon, for example, there are hashtags that are good for nothing except mobilizing and inciting people.
The fierce campaign that Hezbollah supporters launched in response to Saudi measures has fuelled tensions against the entire Lebanese people in Gulf countries, and is widening Lebanese domestic divisions. Those inciting do not care about anything except childish victories within the context of political debates, even if the entire country pays the price.
The effect of this language ranges from condemning entire groups to escalation that includes the whole country. Some of us in Lebanon do not adopt the inciting language used by Hezbollah and its supporters. However, some of the reactions are not limited to the party, but include the entire country and its people. Some are urging more such Saudi decisions, which affect all Lebanese, not just Hezbollah.
In Lebanon there are hashtags that are good for nothing except mobilizing and inciting peopleDiana Moukalled
Opinions that the Lebanese people must bear responsibility for what is happening in their country unfairly base the image of the people on the stances taken by their politicians. Relations between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon have entered an unknown phase. It seems Hezbollah is most comfortable because what is happening helps it shatter whatever is left of the Lebanese state to serve the interests of the Iranian regime.
Lebanon’s government must fulfil the minimum of its duties. It must specify a foreign policy that protects the public interest, and must decisively stand against what Hezbollah is doing in Lebanon, Syria and the region, and against all threats to the country.
Amid the excessive enthusiasm to expel Lebanese from the Gulf and promises of noble Iranian deeds, entire Lebanese families are threatened, and will not be protected by Twitter’s idiots.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 29, 2016.
Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.