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Problem of Simultaneous Live Blogging British Open, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

by John on 07/21/2014

British Open 2014Like religion, social media and war technology are double-edged swords.  They can be used for good and bad.

And like we saw in Ukraine, when deadly technology is put into the hands of morons, it can be deadly.

Notice too what is happening in the Israeli Palestinian conflict and the war of words on social media.  Israelis call the dead “human shields”; Palestinians call them “innocent citizens.”

Words can soothe, educate, and inspire.  But they can also be used for propaganda.

And words carry larger meaning sometimes – especially with the new social media – when used by those who are not as adept at using them.

I may have been guilty myself.

Yesterday I was live blogging the final round of the British Open while, at the same time, posting various news articles and comments about other news events – namely the now deadly conflict along the Israeli border.

Here’s where it got testy.

cavemen killing woman for adulteryI responded to this tweet and photo.

Cavemen stoning woman to death in N. Syria bcz she committed adultery

The photo showed men apparently stoning the woman without showing the woman who was the victim.

I retweeted it and wrote:

hard to argue with folks who say maybe dropping a bomb on all of them makes sense after seeing this.

After I posted it, I thought I sounded like a talk radio moron who might ask: have you stopped beating your wife?

Was I angry?  Sure.  Could I have deleted it?  Yes, but my social media policy is if you hit return have the balls to defend it.

Plus, this kind of behavior seems to me as a way of life that the perpetrators – the Cavemen – will never stop.  And very few in those societies will try to stop it.  To me, religious extremism is harmful to the human condition.  How can you not stand up for an innocent person being stoned to death.

Well, I got a ration online.

No John sorry, I don’t understand people who want to do that. Assad wants to do that, is doing that already.

And then from the same person but with more anger:

Yes John, let’s kill every man, woman & child in Raqqa (po. 200k) in order to kill a few thousand terrorists. Idiot.

And then another person tweeted to me:

what do you know, John. 40 years of occupation and oppression. Go back to your golf or learn to be human!

Palestinian damageI will leave out these people’s names and twitter handles since I have not gotten permission and they probably put out a fatwa on me.

But the comments got me examining myself.

First, was I failing to acting informed and not inflamed?  Maybe.  But you can be Not Inflamed while being passionate.  I thought I was, at least in my own mind.  I actually favorite one of my angry responders tweets:

except for when the US military drones ppl in countries they’re not even at war with like Yemen, of course…

Again, I am always looking for discourse where people on one side can see the ideas or concerns of those on the other side but it probably came out the wrong way with this tweet.

I forgot Hamas and other extremists do no wrong.

After all, in my statement, I was insinuating that I was willing to stick up for innocent women but allow possibly innocent children to be killed by wiping out the entire society.  Sure, that was a harsh statement on my part.

Second, I have never lived in oppression and occupation, let alone 40 years.

Third, I am tweeting as an authority on all this while I am enjoying golf on TV.

As I look back at my tweets, I had other tweets interspersed like:

#BritishOpen@TheSergioGarcia just misses birdie on #11, still 3 back.

Not a good image of me as a forward thinker; so it got me thinking.

Could I have had a decent and respectful conversation with these folks online?

Probably not.

First, they were in the midst of a major conflict where many people have been killed.  Rational conversation would not be there, and rightly so.

Second, being compassionate on complex issues in 140 characters is not easy.

Third, I don’t see their way of life.  But they do not see my way of thinking either.  Most Americans are sympathetic with the Palestinians and their plight.  But there are many, myself included, who see the Palestinians as poor me’s while the Israelis have created new businesses, new technologies, and protected themselves.  I am not saying the Israelis are saints in all this.  They have their extremists, but overall if Hamas didn’t attack Israel we wouldn’t be seeing this kind of turmoil.  We Americans tend to side with what appears to be the first victim of an attack.  And these incidents clearly begin with Hamas.

But I also want to be a respectful and decent member of the world community – off line and online.

So, let me say this.  I too easily launched brash and inflammatory statements.  And if I caused any harm, I apologize.

But through some of the anger thrown back at me, I actually saw another side of the conflict which will stay with me.  It won’t necessarily change how I feel about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it will make me respond with more empathy.

It also got me thinking about my wide range of topics I cover.  Maybe I need to separate the news from the sports.



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