Disparate aspects of the ongoing advance of technology throughout the world are coming together in a very interesting and heartwarming result. As groups continue the attempt to connect everyone
in the world by the near-future, we've also seen how social media has been used recently
to organize and deploy protests and citizen activism, particularly in the Middle East. But those two stories are converging into a fascinating display of communication between two rival nations in that troubled region.
In case you've been sleeping under a rock these past few months, it turns out the governments of Iran and Israel have some minor quibbles with one another. As a result, there's been much saber-rattling and boot-stomping between the two governments and popular opinion tends to be it's a matter of when, not if, the bullets and bombs begin flying. If one is not nuanced enough to separate out these nation's governments from their people, one might assume the common people in each state are equally rivalrous. This separation is made all the more difficult by the way both nations close off communication with one another, such that an individual in Israel is completely unable to make a simple phone call to an Iranian area code (it's blocked at the government level).
But if you happen to think closing off all communication is silly and counter-productive (like me), you'll be delighted to know that the internet is here to save the day. CNN has the story of one Israeli citizen, Ronny Edry, a graphic designer, who thinks the prospect of pre-emptive war with Iran is absolutely insane, so he developed some simple but striking "posters" and put them up on Facebook
"My idea was simple, I was trying to reach the other side. There are all these talks about war, Iran is coming to bomb us and we bomb them back, we are sitting and waiting. I wanted to say the simple words that this war is crazy," said Edry.
The images featured pictures of various Israelies, such as Edry himself and his neighbors along with their children, and a message:
Now if you're cynical, or you watch too much cable news, you might be wondering what the big deal is. So an Israeli made some posters and put them on Facebook. So what?
The response, said Edry, was overwhelming. "In a few hours, I had hundreds of shares and thousands of likes and it was like something was happening.
"I think it's really amazing that someone from Iran poked me and said 'Hello, I'm from Iran, I saw your "poster" on Facebook,' " Edry said.
And that's when the posters created by Iranian citizens in return began flooding in. Posters with messages of peace and commonality. I found one particular post on Edry's Facebook page from an Iranian to be particularly heartening:
We share a common history, have been sharing both our great and ancient cultures, languages and poetry together. ... We are so similar, and politicians cannot cut a tie that has been tied thousands of years ago. I am proud to have you as my friends.
I'm not going to go all peace, love and flower power on you, but this is why the internet age is so important. It's also why cutting off communication between nations, or allowing even the first steps of internet censorship to take hold, must be stopped at all costs. It's not just about copyright, or flash mobs, or YouTube videos showing Spaceballs clips. The internet is ultimately about people sharing with one another, whether they're sharing thoughts, images like this, or whatever. It's about commonality. It's about creating a web of bonds through which communication and understanding can flow.
And now, I'm realizing, it's about giving every man and woman the power to do what their blowhard, acrimonious politicians won't do: talk to one another.