The Gezi spirit and the Twitter wars prevail
I have to thank Türk Telekom for reminding me yesterday morning that Turks, well at least 50 percent of them, are celebrating the first anniversary of the Gezi Park incident that I might otherwise have forgotten. Allah korusun! Let me tell you how I was reminded.
The Twitter button on the page of an online article I was reading yesterday appeared to be inactive. I asked myself: “Are we back to the good old days of Twitter wars?” At first I thought there was something wrong with the Internet connection, so I refreshed the page a few times. My efforts were in vain, the page did not open. I failed. I then tried to enter Twitter’s own website. I failed again. I tried Facebook. Alas, I failed again. As a faithful admirer of Samuel Beckett, I tried again and again and successfully failed again. Finally, a funny message popped on my homepage telling me that I had chosen the family protection web block option on my computer’s Internet application settings. So I simply could not access any social media platform!
“Weird” I thought to myself. After all, I have had the same application for the past 10 years. It also seemed a little bit off that I would have chosen to protect myself from “scary, scary” social media platforms that did not exist 10 years ago. I finally understood that Türk Telekom had invented default censorship. At that very moment I remembered that it was the anniversary of the Gezi Park protests! I extend my gratitude to Türk Telekom for reminding me. Still, it’s only getting better. I must confess that I view this “you have chosen the family protection mode” scam as an improvement from the boorish “I just don’t understand Twitter-Mwitter, I will wipe it out.” I must confess this new form of censorship has an elegance to it. The Gezi spirit prevails and has even made censorship more graceful.
Gezi Park also prevails as Turks continue to turn to social media for their daily news. I personally still find social media more reliable than traditional media. This may sound a bit oxymoronic, but in Turkey this is the situation and remains so one year after the Gezi protests. So if you ask me how Gezi changed everyday life in Turkey, my first answer is: Gezi exposed the state’s control over mainstream media, including newspapers and television, which is an important contribution in terms of transparency. Gezi was like a litmus test for all of us. Since Gezi, we all know that Turkey has some modernization problems. This is good to know.
Gezi Park prevails. Gezi is the “Basta moment” of the Turkish creative class! In my opinion, it is the first and only political moment of the 1980 junta generation. The spirit prevails. They have learned that they can have an impact on public policy decisions. What impact? If you have any doubts about the impact of Gezi, just observe the number of policemen on the streets this weekend. Especially around Gezi Park in İstanbul. Gezi freaked out the ruling elite of Turkey a year ago and look who is still freaking out. Just count the number of policemen. If you ask me, this is all rather positive.
So back to what I am going to do with Türk Telekom. As of today, I will cancel my Internet subscription with them and look for an alternative - one that asks for my opinion before acting on my behalf. If you ask me, it’s a bit like Turkey in the 1930s. “If communism is what this country needs, then we will bring that to you, no need for you to think or do anything,” the Ankara governor back then reportedly said. There has been no change in the autocratic mentality of our rulers for the last 90 years. Thanks to Gezi, we continue to learn.