Thursday, June 25, 2009

Two Discussions I Had Recently About Iran On And About Social Media

Facebook Discussions About Iran

I’ve been discussing Iran and Neda on Facebook with some people who are obviously hardliners about this current Iranian crisis. A person even called Neda a “media darling saying, “The fact is she became a media darling bc so many people want mahmoud out, they will rally around any of his enemies.” He also said that no one knows anything about her – which I pointed out was not true and was very easy to find out.

I posted that, in fact, there’s been a lot of investigation into Neda's life since her death.

“I'd say she's become more of a martyr for the cause than a media darling since she's dead and was randomly shot on the street, when it turns out, she wasn't even protesting.

“She was a young, educated woman from Iran who runs atypical to most people's perception of the average, fanatical, anti-semetic, "death-to"America" shouting, nut ball Iranian that is Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah. Whether she was protesting or not is actually irrelevant and whether she is being used as a symbol for the opposition is also irrelevant.

“What matters is the people she represents: young, educated, Iranians with hopes and dreams like everyone else who also want at the minimum a voice in their government. People who never occurred to exist in the minds of I'd say 90% of Americans until these protests.”

Twitter And The Green Tinted Avatars

On Ari Herzog’s blog he wrote a post, “Why Twitter Goes Green and Why You Should Too” which inspired a very lively discussion about the tinting of people's avatars in support of the Iranian protesters. I commented in reply to @waynejohn who questioned the motivation and effectiveness of people tinting their avatar green on Twitter in support of Iranian protesters.

In his comment he wrote that he does hope “that they get what they want. In the meantime, I’m keeping my nose well out of that mess. Not my problem, nor any of the people that hopped on the next do-gooder bandwagon.”

He also wrote:

“You’re latching onto a cause that will ultimately mean absolutely nothing to you only because everyone else is doing it.

“How is this more important than our population growth? Or cutting down the Amazon. I’m not a tree hugger, but those seem like bigger issues that we should be….I don’t know , wear brown for?

“Seem silly and elementary to me.”

I replied to him and here it is in full:

"I see your point Wayne, but I disagree. The people in Iran were Twittering and making themselves heard for a reason. That reason is they want solidarity from the world for their cause. When they hear that others are behind them across the globe they may become empowered, realize they are not alone int his fight and institute real change.

"Symbolism is a powerful thing. I personally did not change my avatar. I don’t take up causes very easily but I respect and admire the people who have changed their avatars to green to show the people across the world and in Iran that they (we) are with them in this fight. It is not stupid, silly or worthless. It is powerful and important.

"And thought there are a thousand other causes to get behind some people pick one over another because it touches them in some way. For some it’s hunger. For others it’s the fight against ALS (my company). And still others, it’s standing behind people halfway across the world as they fight against oppression. It may end up that things do not change in Iran tomorrow or next week but if young people over there know that good people are wearing or tinting their avatars green in support, that may have an affect that resonates for years or generations to come.

"Imagine how powerful that one picture of that student standing up to Chinese tanks was 20 years ago. Did that symbolic moment institute wholesale change? Did it inspire people? Also, remember back to a time when you were younger, more idealistic. Didn’t symbolism mean a lot more to you than it does now? It did to me.

"I’m happy people still carry that meaning in their lives despite the problems we have here. I think that the Iranians are inspiring us to be better. And all round, that’s a good thing."

I think the symbolism is important. The green avatars may do nothing substantial in Iran but they do bring light to the cause and hopefully some people in the U.S. with little knowledge or wrong assumptions about Iranians may get an education. I know I did.

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