Dreams vs reality
Anyone who spends time casually surfing the Internet these days in Turkey must have seen memes with the caption “Dreams vs. Reality.” There are thousands of user generated memes out there with this caption. For example, a photo of Brad Pitt says “Dreams,” while a photo of someone below has the caption, “Reality,” along with words like: “Me after a haircut.”
For me, the situation we are experiencing in Turkey and Istanbul is just like “Dreams vs. Reality”.
We dream of being an “uber-democratic” society, but the reality is that everybody who speaks their mind is threatened with various lawsuits (if they are not already in jail or in the process of being sentenced.) This reality has been solidified with a new law. We now have a new number in our lives, after “5651”: “6639.”
With Law No. 6639, along with speaking your mind, retweeting or liking an expression is a crime. It means that if I retweet something an international celebrity, say Noam Chomsky, has said about our government, which is seen as a crime by our government, I will be punishable by law. What’s more, if any webpage, say a page on the Hurriyet Daily News, quotes the same Chomsky opinion, the authorities will have the power to shut down the newspaper’s entire website in an hour. A lawsuit will follow the blocking and closing down of the website thanks to Law No. 6639, which was passed only a few days ago.
We dreamed that we would, by now, be living in intelligent cities, where nature and technology thrive in harmony. But the harsh reality of 2015 is that our cities are as dumb as they come. For example, in Istanbul, there is traffic on every road, at any given time. We have had water shortages for the last few years and this year we have had regular electric grid malfunctions. Istanbul cannot contain its waste, and it cannot manage its water. If it rains, we have too much water and if it doesn’t rain we don’t have any water. If everyone uses electricity at the same time, we have a grid malfunction; if the demand is low, we have electricity for the whole day. Our cities are so smart that it takes days to find out how the grid went offline for a whole day. We cannot even utilize sea transportation as well as we could, but we demolish our last forests for new bridges. We are expecting a major earthquake that will cripple Istanbul, but we have no clear plan of action.
We dream of Istanbul as a financial hub. Of course, very logically, we have built lots of skyscrapers for the overwhelming demand from financial players across the world. But the reality is that no major financial institution wants to be in Istanbul; they prefer Dubai.
We dream of our education system being the best in the world, with a correct usage of technology. To realize this dream (again, very logically) the first thing we did was buy billions of dollars of hardware. The harsh reality is that the “upgraded education” classes have failed in every field compared to the “regular” classes.
When I hear our leaders speaking, I also begin to dream. But I come back to my senses very quickly because the reality is undeniable. Unfortunately, there is no sign that they will admit to this reality.
Maybe I am very illogical and maybe it really is very logical to curb free speech, disable life in our biggest cities, and spend billions of dollars on technological equipment that gives worse results than pen and paper.
There must be a logical explanation of why we mismanage technology in the way we do, so that it does the exact opposite of what it is supposed to do.