21. A Glass-Half-Full Eid

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It’s Eid! A very warm Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim and non-Muslim friends on this beautiful day. This is the time of year when millions of Muslims flock to the holy sites of Mecca and Medina and millions more celebrate with their brothers and sisters in Islam all over the world. It is the time of year we’re meant to be even more compassionate and charitable and distribute food and money to the poor and impoverished. We buy new clothes, give presents and pray with the community.

This Eid, I’m sitting looking out at a rainy suburban street, 99.2 miles away from my mum and dad and many thousands more away from my family and my sun scorched land. If you over-think it, it’s a pretty grim state of affairs. These ISIS loonies are reducing my home to a childhood memory, these Zionists are bulldozing and blockading land which is illegal any way you look at it, and these Western governments are aiding and abetting all manner of sins in my name. If I was a glass half empty kind of a girl I wouldn’t want to get out of bed, I’d put on a Hugh Grant movie and eat bread and Za’atar to wash and wish it all away.

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1.

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OK here it goes, I’m writing my first blog post – incidentally my headmistress at school told us never to start a sentence with ‘OK’, what would she say if she knew it started a website? That I’m doomed for failure probably. I watched the crackin’ documentary ‘Exit Through the Gift-Shop’ last week, where this bloke starts off filming street art then decided to make it and people took him seriously and now he’s done very well for himself. Using that as a metaphor and a warped type of inspiration, I’m going to try my hand at this. I feel like I’ve absorbed enough, time to let some of it seep out.

However I’m apprehensive: the main point in my ‘don’t get a blog’ cons list was the idea of putting myself out there: we live in the internet age, where we’ve all become our own celebrities. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc all glorify the individual and we’ve become commodities at the mercy of  nameless, faceless people who, whilst lurking behind screens and pseudonyms, can shamelessly elevate or depress us by their comments and opinions. I didn’t want to buy into that, I wanted to keep the sanctity – and perhaps I secretly also meant the authenticity, of my thoughts private. But I’ve had the realisation that if I can keep my head above water and stay in control then the original purpose of social media still has merit and legitimacy: I can be connected whilst utilising a fantastic platform for my mildly fantastic ideas.

My second reservation was in the quality of thoughts being shared about. I’m 21 years old and although I think my ideas and beliefs are worth spreading right now, experience has taught me that pragmatism is the only way to succeed and my beliefs could easily change with time: what I think is ‘right’ or ‘good’ now could easily have no meaning in the future, I would hate this platform to turn me into a hypocrite or, worse still, make me look foolish. You know, like when I thought flares were the shit, or didn’t realise that Wales was a country.

Third, I didn’t want to clog the internet up with more crap, it’s part of the reason I’m not very Twitter-savvy, when I first got twitter about two months ago I was surprised by how much of it was filled with babble, 140 characters of emptiness. I did come across some brilliant things too, but the crap to cool ratio was disappointingly large, and I was wary of creating more hollow words. But then I realised that Earth’s 7.5 billion inhabitants weren’t waiting on baited breath to hear what I had to say and if the Daily Mail can manage to produce an article about a D-list celebrity’s (make-up-less) trip to Tesco than there are things more unholy than my words.

With my reservations and their counter-arguments in place, I needed a catalyst to get this going, and that came in the form of the website I’m in the process of setting up with a fellow student in Paris. It’s called ‘Infita7’ – meaning openness in Arabic. Its goal is to unlock the Middle East by creating a forum discussing culture, politics and adding a human element too. The project has taught me how to use the technology (and by that I mean wordpress) and also the value in journalism’s integrity. Two things I’ve now channelled into this space (though admittedly the tech is my Achilles Heel). I’m just looking forward to seeing what will come of it. So, all in all, fuck it (sorry for swearing mum) and welcome, faceless readers.