No, Zuckerberg isn’t about to buy Greek debt. Nor will he set up Research and Development in Crete. He isn’t even going to call up European leaders and ask them nicely to be kinder on repayment terms. Facebook is going to help us build consensus.
Most people currently believe that social media achieves the exact opposite. It is not mass media. We hide alone and pretend, end up feeling inadequate…and all that kind of thinking which is prevalent right now in research papers. “Get off social to get happy!” seems to be the accepted wisdom.
But let’s talk about really bad politicians. We all have some. My Italian friends simply could not believe what Berlusconi got away with for so long. Americans are currently worried about Trump but forget they had George Bush, an equally dangerous buffoon, calling the shots for two terms. The British simply laughed at the idiotic stuff Tony Blair came up with regularly and most African countries are almost used to crazy dictators. All around the world, people vote for leaders so incredibly stupid, we would not trust them to hold our ice cream, let alone decide our kids’ future. (More on “Trump, trinkets and the triumph of the twats” here.)
In Greece we have Alexis Tsipras. I don’t need to run through moronic highlights. The whole world has had a taste. Take the worse you have seen or heard about him and just multiply it by a hundred. He is an absolute idiot. Uneducated, incapable and brash. A lethal combination.
What is interesting about this particular clown however is his rise to power and what we did about it. Many of us could see it coming. We got on our soap boxes and cried: “can’t you see?” They couldn’t see. He got elected. Some of us insisted and from Day1 posted all the terrible things they did. Still, we were the weirdos. Yannis Varoufakis upped the ridiculous ante. We were on Facebook about it. The “let’s give them some time to see what they can do” attitude started cracking. Some Facebook friends started expressing doubts.
Gradually more and more people turned. If you are professionally on social media like me, you see a lot of different profiles, a lot of different groups of “friends”. The arty people seeing their hopes of socialist reforms dashed. The business crowd feeling the enormous damage done to the economy and the image of Greece abroad. For a communications guy like me, the signs were glaring, obvious and flashing like bright lights: my country has split up into two social media clans. On the one side are civil servant and all those directly or indirectly making money from Government. On the other side the private sector. We are the schmucks paying the bill.
This is no new divide. But social media is helping as clear up the situation. If you are a civil servant you can’t hide it from me in the long term. A recent Facebook unfriending made this pretty obvious to me. He is my age, full of energy, similar outdoor interests, also a keen traveller, well read and we agreed on everything. Even touchy subjects like child rearing approaches. In politics we had a similar approach, ended up supporting similar parties. On Facebook it seemed so that is. And then recently he did it: he reposted an article that “not all civil servants are evil”.
Like you do on Facebook, I pushed a bit. It didn’t take much prodding. He came out and admitted it: “I am 47, have a wife and a kid now, I will not give up my job security”. It was the fastest unfriend I have ever done. Because it was obvious. Sharing anything with him is simply a waste of time. I live in a global economy and have my kids ready to go to any country in the world necessary for work at a moment’s notice. Government handouts are not part of this plan. Business opportunities are always global. He talks the talk but, like the bloated Greek public sector, will not walk the walk.
Though only half Greek, I love this place. Greek culture can and should have a bright spot on planet Earth. But it will not achieve anything while sitting on its butt. Through Facebook we will unfriend all those civil servants. We will uncover the hypocrites. Over time they will give themselves away. Sooner or later they repost something about Merkel being bad to us, or idiotic pseudo economic conspiracy theories borrowed from a failed ex minister in Australia. We will build a new consensus and a new idea about what it means to be Greek in the modern world. One post at a time. It’s not about living in Greece and it sure as hell isn’t about job security and living off loans. If there is something special about this great civilisation it has nothing to fear of new technologies, new economies or alien invasions, Jews, Germans and whatever other imaginary enemy lazy Greeks imagine are all working against them.
I hope Argyris quits his job in the civil service and finds something to do in the real world economy some time soon. (Posting this on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter now, guess he will see it sooner or later. ; )