So, there was a mini-war in that region I used to live in (okay, officially I still do). It’s very unpleasant, and I’m glad I’m not physically there these days.
One interesting thing about it was the role of Facebook. We’ve heard a lot about Facebook’s affect on international politics, mostly in the context of communication for people in oppressive regimes, but that’s not the case here. I don’t think Facebook had any effect on the actual events. But one other thing interests me – a new kind of war-time information Facebook exposes me to.
Let me start by saying that I’m really not a big fan of Facebook. At first I loved it – it was an interesting way to learn more about my friends, especially things casual friends don’t normally talk about – it was quite interesting to see who defines themselves as “Jewish” and who as “Atheist”, who is “Liberal” and who is “Very Liberal”, and others. Later, a combination of users’ trends and Facebook’s own policies started encouraging people to stop writing anything personal and instead focus on uploading pictures and posting links. I started losing interest.
But occasionally, something happens that encourages people to get a little more personal again. Unfortunately, the recent something was a mini-war.
I think most people aren’t very interested in politics, morality and philosophy. But I am. I think it’s fascinating to ask yourself: “if a war started today, what would my friends think”? I don’t mean your 3-4 close friends who you’ll probably talk about it with anyway. How would the 100-200 people in my social circle who I don’t have deep conversations with, but still see occasionally and care about, think and act in a serious situation?
I must say the answer was a bit disappointing, but very educational. My Facebook feed, full of well-educated people whose company I enjoy greatly, provided a surprising amount of hateful, militaristic and nationalistic rhetoric I didn’t think exists anywhere around me (not only that, of course, but it was there). It always seemed like something you’ll find in the news, or the history books. But the truth? It was probably always there. The only difference is that it suddenly became visible.
And I really don’t think it’s unique to me, or to the country I come from. I wonder how many people out there, if a serious situation happened around them, would find that the people they love but never discuss serious matters with, might turn out to have abhorrent opinions about them.
Anyway, cease fire is in, and I’m just a little bit more enlightened about politics and society. Not very happy about it, but the world isn’t always fun.
 In fact, I was extremely close to writing a “why I left Facebook” post a while ago, but eventually I decided that as a future immigrant, I need all the social tools available to integrate better with wherever I find myself, and Facebook is one of them.
 I actually think I was one of the first Israelis to join Facebook. In winter 2006 I think Facebook was mostly an American universities thing, but then I accompanied a group of American college students on a Birthright trip. As you might expect after spending a few days with dozens of American college students, I found myself with a Facebook account a few days later.
 The American-oriented political terms (Liberal vs. Conservative) Facebook was using at that time were not that suitable for Israeli politics, but anyway in my social circles it would be very unlikely to find someone who considers themselves a “conservative”. Which doesn’t mean that they actually aren’t conservative, of course.
 Which is very unfortunate, but don’t get me started on that.