Tahrir square, November 20, 2011, 19:26: It looks like a war zone out there, people scurrying ant-like against a backdrop of sporadic fires, tear gas and smoke covering the entire scene. Gun shots are heard, rumors of live ammunition circulate.
Apartment in Doqqi, November 20, 2011, 19:26: My feet are a little cold.
So stuff is still going down in a big way in Tahrir, but this scene differs dramatically from the life I continue to live in the ‘burbs away from all the crazy action. The main way the protests affect my life is through the interesting variety of facebook status updates on my newsfeed and the fact classes will now be held somewhere else.
For those of you who are familiar with facebook, you know that the newsfeed is a sacred timewaster. I find myself perusing it for hours despite the fact that I care very little about both what I am reading and the people who have posted it. Some people have edited their newsfeeds in order to only include people they actually want to hear from. I have not done so because I can’t decide if I really hate looking at my high school classmate’s photos of her baby girl or not, despite the fact I can’t remember who either of them are. This is just one example out of hundreds.
Recently, because of the quite serious political events that have been occurring here in Egypt and the banality that characterizes the rest of my facebook friends’ lives (or many of them at least), my feed has become an eclectic mix of urgent messages and the same old inanities from some people I love and some I barely remember.
It’s like eating a bag of crushed up tea cookies and spiced peanuts that is either delicious or revolting, but addicting nonetheless. And now you can judge for yourselves. Without further ado, a sampling of my newsfeed and its sources.
“hope i didn’t over spice my chili!” -close friend from university
“Tahrir looks like a war zone, and a couple Molotov cocktails just lit up the air near my building.” –friend here in Egypt living in Doqqi, where there was recently an outbreak of violence
“This is just sad: Baylor scored six touchdowns on the night. The average touchdown drive covered approximately 80 yards in four plays and took 64 seconds.” –classmate from high school; last talked to him 4.5 years ago
“My beautiful 6 month roses from my wonderful boyfriend! I am such a lucky girl to have such an amazing guy that encourages me in the pursuit of my dreams, wipes my tears when I feel defeated, and makes me smile all the time! I am truly blessed.” –best friend from middle school; last talked to her 4.5 years ago
“Dear Comcast, why do you SUCK?!”- peer from university
“Dug and I are watching UP with a Starbucks coffee and Kitty. Best Sunday EVER!” -peer from university; number of times I talked to her: 6
“#Tahrir square is ours again we are 10-15000 if not more”- activist in my current program
(picture of a girl kissing someone’s pregnant belly) – co-worker from 5 years ago; number of times I talked to her: 7
“Day One of our cross country road trip! Here we go!” – peer from university; last talked to him 4 years ago
“The square is under attack. Please be careful #Tahrir huge crowds of people are back they are very brave” – activist in my current program
“I really love my church!!” – co-worker from last summer
“Being chased in alleys with birdshots/tear gas TT: @TaherNagaty:” -activist in current program
Needless to say it’s all a bit confusing. Do I love hearing about my old friend’s happiness in her love life? Do I need to see a stranger’s preggo belly being kissed by someone I talked to 6 times? Should I tell them their lives and my life pale in comparison to what is going on in the world?
Just a bag of cookie crumbs and peanut pieces to munch on.