The Hashtag War
Monday, November 19, 2012
Among the trivial subjects trending on Twitter in the past day were these:
- #Tom Brady
- #Andrew Luck
- Black Friday
Roseanne Barr posted a picture of her luncheon dessert next to what appeared to be a Manhattan cocktail with a cherry in it. Oprah Winfrey cheerfully Tweeted, “I love walking in the rain”, accompanied by a picture of Oprah, as you might imagine, walking in the rain.
And then there was this from the Al Qassam Brigades in Gaza, “#Israeli air force shelling house of Al Askari’s family”. The snappy rejoinder from the Israel Defense Forces: “#Gaza terrorists targeted Ashdod again.” They are actually competing with each other for attention against the outpouring of grief for the death of the Hostess Twinkie.
Israel and the Hamas leadership of the Gaza Strip are in a shooting war in which homes and government offices have been destroyed and more than 60 people have been killed, the vast majority of them Palestinians. It’s very serious, but like two high school girls with a romantic interest in the same skinny hipster in the senior class, Israel and Hamas are sending bitchy taunts to each other over Twitter. I don’t know whether to LOL or cry.
From Al Qassam the uplifting message, “Martyr leaders never die, they live forever”. From the IDF, “#Hamas propaganda is constantly spreading misinformation.” The verbal missile fired back by Hamas: “Al Qassam Brigades shelling the occupied city of “Tel Aviv”.
At the same time, the following is the kind of traffic moving on #ThingsGirlsSayAlot:
- “Does this make me look fat?”
- “OMG Channing Tatum Marry Me!”
- “I miss my long hair”
- “We are never ever getting back together, like ever.”
The promise of social media like Twitter and Facebook is that they bring us closer together. But the reality is that human contact and conversation is diminished by people who focus their eyes on their smart phones rather than each other. We have all seen people walking down the street and sitting at restaurant tables alone together as they silently work their thumbs in conversation with someone else who is not there. Israel and Gaza have become two countries sitting at a café table Tweeting about each other while not talking.
The social media have really become an advertising venue, not so much for toothpaste, but for ourselves. People post pictures of themselves, their children and their dog. They post links to newspaper articles and political opinions they agree with. They announce new jobs, promotions and personal accomplishments. They live on social media in a parallel to each other, always in touch, never really connecting.
So really it makes perfect sense that Israel and Gaza have chosen the social medium of Twitter to hashtag out their differences in public. Neither has any intention of listening or paying attention to the other. They have managed to reduce war to trivia on a par with Lindsay Lohan’s mother. It makes me despair that, OMG, Israel and Gaza are never getting back together, like ever.