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Wednesday, 10 August 2011


I can not agree more. And I have to say that I am part of a very unliked community and that I was not even born where I was raised. Despite the lack of money and racism I made my way into life and I am working. Ok my life is not as I dreamt it but life is not a dream.

I understand both points, Rina. First, that of your Twitter dissenters. It really is a connotation vs denotation thing. What you said was a very nuanced statement that a blog post such as this can express. But a brief tweet just doesn't do justice to the sentiment which had more than one possible way of being received, and you can't fault people for arriving at their own conclusions. After all, the burden of communication lies with the communicator.

THAT SAID... I am with you on your point. I can understand why you feel that this hashtagged attempt at solidarity could come across as token, or even completely out of whack. While London literally needed the world's prayers during said riots, it was and remains to be nowhere near one of the most troubled of cities.

I know this because though I'm not poor, my city is troubled... all the time. I can rarely go for a drive without a beggar coming up to my window. Billions of dollars of our country's taxes are shamelessly stolen by greedy politician pigs who buy SUVs and houses in the USA while the masses live in shanties. People get gunned down in traffic. Etc, etc.

Pray for Manila. Pray for Africa. And yes, pray for Japan. Because frankly, those cities need prayers more than London. But yeah, pray for London too. Even though those riot kids had the opportunity for education, and a bunch of luxuries people in the third world only dream of.

It doesn't seem cool to ride on some trending topic and feel like you've sent enough good cheer into the world before you've actually thought about where the real needs in the world are, the places that need your prayer with or without a #prayfor____ hashtag attached to the beginning of its name.

Props to you, cuz.

I think my main point from this discussion is that a blog is the place to make those kind of thoughts known. What you were trying to say was far too complex to condense into 140 characters and just came out sounding totally wrong and actually quite offensive to those who've been badly affected by these riots. Some things just aren't meant to be tweeted my love.

It wasn't your opinions about the hashtag that I have problems with (I too cringed at the overtly dawsons-creek-american-style #prayforlondon) - it was your statement about people overreacting and your comment about the London riots not being as big or important as the Japan crisis.

I understand that this isn't on the scale of events in Japan, or even some of the continous troubles in some other cities around the world. But this happened in London, to Londoners by Londoners. As a city we all know that we are resilient to terrorism from organised groups - and we've all grown up with this - from the Birmingham, Brighton & Manchester bombings to the events of 7/7. However what has shocked people to the core this time is the wanton destruction of the cities we live in by those who live in them. What happened over the past few days was violence and criminal behaviour with no justification or point, beyond the selfish. I don't think people in this city overreacted, I think they were genuinely shocked, scared and angry. And they used twitter to convey their sentiments - and 140characters sometimes can feel like simple hysteria rather than complex comment. However, someone crying over kitty cats is justified if that's how they genuinely felt - to be honest I was upset about the fact that they destroyed the tropical fish shop in Wood Green. But I was more upset about what this city had the potential to become - a city where people could not genuinely feel safe to walk the streets - a privilege that we are all fortunate to have.

In such a tense and sensitive moment, where people are figuring out their own feelings towards the situation, worried when they saw their flat being trashed (as happened to my collegue from Hackney as he watched it on the news at work), worried that their road is unsafe (there were at least 2 muggings behind my flat on Monday eve), and worried that the city could, just for a very brief moment, become lawless, all the while watching people's homes & businesses burn - I believe in the context of this, it was insensitive to talk about over-reactions on a public forum such as twitter. Especially as twitter seemed to be the main means of communication at that time for a large number of people. For someone, anyone, to say people were overreacting at that time was wrong. People were just reacting to something alien. This hasn't happened to us before, and hopefully will never happen again.

What has made me more proud is the reactions of Londoners once the initial shock had subsided - people using twitter to share news, people cleaning up, people thanking the police, people defending their neighbourhoods, people making tea and people declaring their pride and love for the city. I genuinely believe that London can come out of this stronger and more united than ever before. I for one now know (& follow on twitter) more people on my own street than I ever thought imaginable.

Oh - and goodluck with the BB haters - the media had to blame one of the social networks (now that's an overreaction...), as is the vogue at the moment.

Your friend, always.

Kiddo: Agree with you that 'a brief tweet just doesn't do justice to the sentiment which had more than one possible way of being received'.

PPP: Not convinced that I should't have expressed that on twitter, as it was a legitimate and instant reaction to the hashtag. However, I do concede that my timing was imprudent. Also, I am aware that I should have avoided using a heavy handed unkind tone with the generic shout-out. 

L: I underestimated how alien and shocking the events were to Londoners. I guess having the childhood experience of Manila may have dulled my anxieties a bit, having been exposed to military coups, massacres and banana republic lawlessness. On a plus side, it's also an indication of my confidence and trust in this city, that we will be ok.

Finally, I probably should be more willing to accept the odd instances of dramatics in order to avoid undermining genuine human sentiments. Must always remember that good things work in mysterious ways.

Although, I still have issues when people jump on the 'prayer' bandwagon during a hype, when they are normally against such a religious concept + the idea of divinity. Then again, I suppose there's no harm in people learning how to, even if temporary.

Wait, if something happens on Twitter it affects the real world?

PPP: Yes, I too think that some things are not appropriate on Twitter. In this context, it was so gratifying and reassuring to see the support, concern and general goodwill that was tweeting by, then all the appeals for clean-ups and donations.
L: Couldn't have expressed that better. My sentiments exactly!
Rina love, I think we will have to agree to disagree on some aspects of this one. I of course understand in part your reaction, however it is precisely because I know your own experience and history that I would have expected more empathy on your behalf during those days... You know as well as any of us the power of words and that there are times when we must choose them wisely.

Even from afar, the rioting elicited fears that the violence may reach even worse proportions as the days wore on, despite the knowledge that London had the means to take control, as ever. I found calm in the number of arrests and confidence in knowing #10 will in due course, pronounce Justice.

History Suckers may look back to the Battle of Britain, and come to expect the calm after the storm in the uniquely British way. Here's something from War Through the Eyes of a Child: Plymouth Blitz by Derek Dawes.

"Everyone had ration books, which enabled you to buy small amounts of food each week, but during most of the war some things were just not available. I do not remember eating a banana for instance until after the war, or an orange. Instead we were given orange juice and cod liver oil tablets, which we were told, would take the place of fresh fruit. All sweets and chocolate were rationed. Your ration coupons would allow you ounces per week and you would barter for sweet coupons, offering to run errands and things."

"Then one morning we woke up to find that all the ships and men and machines were gone. The D Day invasion of France had started and the city felt empty and quiet. The war continued but in the city we seemed a long way from it, and once the air-raids stopped it seemed a safe place again."

"If I went into my memories in detail I would end up writing a book. I hope this will give you some idea of what it was like at times. It could be frightening, it could also seem like a big adventure, and it made you grow up quickly."

After the days of overreaction by all sides, I thank God you all have found the heart to kiss and make up. Peace.

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