Facebook sickens me. Hell, a lot of things sicken me. But I’d feel overindulgent if I were to whine on for a few hundred words about one of my hatreds more than once a day. The whole thing is an advert. You can treat it like a marketplace too; if you know that saying a certain thing will get you a lot of ‘likes’, well then you’ll probably say it. Nobody can actually say what they are truly feeling, because nobody cares about that. It distracts from this online utopia, the invisible, non-existent but still horribly pervasive publicity room. Everything I see on there appears to me like a press release.
At this point you might ask ‘why don’t you just delete it’? Good question, to which I reply, you can’t just delete it. Don’t get me wrong I’m not suggesting Mark Zuckerberg and his pals are trying to take over and control our minds – or are they? – but in life as we live it you cannot afford to be away from this social networking behemoth. Everything is done on Facebook; lives are played out, things are organised, experiences broadcast to gain the approval of others, anecdotes shared, false pseudo-conversations had and pictures uploaded to create the ‘advert’ that Facebook forces us to.
It’s taken me a number of hours, but I’ve finally found my gripe of the day (this really should become a regular feature). Said grievance is Westfield, the retail colossus with multiple personalities which has turned the formerly run-down area of Shepherd’s Bush into a yuppie paradise. It manages to simultaneously satiate the desires of chavs from near and afar, who loiter around stores they could never afford to buy from, as well as London’s nouveau riche. The car parking is extortionate, and advertisements entitled ‘park all evening for just a fiver’ as if this is some grand concession along the lines of the Reform Act of 1832, sum up the ambience of the huge, monolithic building under which seemingly every shop in the world is housed.
The coastal town of Misrata in Libya is, currently, the only pocket of resistance holding out against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s relentless and loyal forces. Suffering sustained bombardment on a daily basis from weapons designed to wreak havoc and cause the maximum number of civilian casualties as possible, being fired indiscriminately at targets with the aim of making life impossible in the rebel enclave, the citizens of Misrata cannot just be sacrificed to the Gaddafi war machine. During the devastating Bosnian War (1992-1995) the international community failed tens of thousands of innocent Bosniaks, and let towns declared ‘safe areas’ fall to a similarly brutal bombardment.
Back then, disagreements over strategy and attempts to remain ‘neutral’ hampered the development of a cohesive, workable strategy. These errors cannot be repeated in Libya. The international community, working through the multi-national military organisation, NATO, must make a choice: back the rebels or let Misrata fall. If it does, thousands of fighters will be slaughtered, and the civilians who bravely held out against the siege will go with them. It’s time for NATO leaders to decide what constitutes a humanitarian emergency, and whether or not we in the West have the stomach for a real fight against Gaddafi. As the days go by without proper retaliation, however, the likelihood of Misrata remaining outside government control falls precipitously.