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The clash of civilizations on Facebook The clash of civilizations on Facebook
by Joseph Gatt
2008-02-17 09:20:46
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One of the most interesting features on Facebook, the internet’s most popular social networking website, is the ability to join social groups. Though Facebook administrators try to censor abusive comments, it sometimes has the features of the clash of civilizations.

Almost 1 million people joined the group “I bet I can find 1 million people who dislike Bush”. Many join that group because they see Bush as the symbol of the Western world trying to attack the rest of the world. In that group, one Facebook user posted a message saying: “Hello, I am a Muslim. We don’t have a problem with Judaism or the Jewish. We have a problem with Israel.” Clearly, Bush is seen as the symbol of an alliance between the US, the world’s hegemonic power, and Israel, symbol of a war against Muslims.

The clash of civilizations categorizes the world into Africans, Latin Americans, Westerners, Islamic people, Sinic people, Hindu people, Orthodox people, Buddhist people and Japanese people. The Western world is clashing against the Islamic world, and several categories of people are building alliances against several others.

On Facebook, the word fuck in groups often designates a repulsive feeling for something. Groups such as “Fuck it”, “Fuck Facebook” or “Fuck you bitch, you had one sip of vodka” are popular groups among its users. The civilizations described by Huntington are also targeted by the word “Fuck”. Groups such as “Fuck Islam”, “Fuck Christianity”, “Fuck off Japan”, “Fuck Japan”, “Fuck China” or “America Fuck You” among other groups aiming at speaking ill of parts of the world.

As a reply, people created groups such as “I fuck idiots who blame Russia/China/US for all the problems of their nations”, “Fuck whoever made the group fuck Islam” or “If you don’t like America, then get the fuck out”. There seems to be clear rivalries between groups which involve hatred of a certain category of people.

Israel being the most targeted country by hate groups, Facebook can make it clear why the State of Israel has a defensive policy, since its existence is constantly threatened, several websites have confirmed that, and now Facebook has that confirmed. The United States comes second, which explains measures taken, and their interventions around the world in rogue states which also threaten its security. One group particularly underlines Israel’s existence threat since it claims “Israel get the fuck out of the Middle East”.

It was once claimed that the clash of civilizations was the result of organized groups, not of popular culture. But Facebook, a website where influential organizations do not gather people for certain causes, has proved that the clash of civilizations is also a reality.

However, it should be underlined that only a minority of people are the incarnation of the clash of civilizations, since a lot of people and groups also express their wish for peace on earth and friendly coexistence between different kinds of people. Indeed, Facebook is a website where people from all countries in the world have registered, and the most popular group is “Six degrees of separation, the experiment”. That group aims to prove that there are only six degrees that separate all the people in the world from knowing each other, which clearly means that people would like to get rid of prejudice against each other, prove that people from world can coexist, and that in fact nations and borders are just an illusion, since it does not disable people from knowing each other.

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Emanuel Paparella2008-02-17 10:56:23
Both Vico in his New Science and Tom Wolfe in his Bonfire of Vanities make the point that a sure sign that a civilization is in decline, never mind its clashing with other civilizations, is the sad impoverishment and degradation of its language. When “fuck” is the only word available to express and elucidate every possible emotion and interaction with reality that one can imagine, then that civilization is pretty much on its way to extinction. Indeed, in the beginning was the word but the word is there at the end also when the civilization devouring monster will be seen slouching toward Gomorrah, and that word is, you guessed it, “fuck.”

Wolfe points out a paradox: in the slums of Brooklyn and the Bronx there are punks with Mercedes Benz logos (stolen from the cars of Wall Street millionaires) hanging from their neck and aggressively using “fuck” every other ten seconds. What astonished him is that in the Wall Street Offices where the possessors of the Mercedes Benz work, there too “fuck” is used repeatedly and enthusiastically as large sum of money are made and lost in the space of a few minutes. Wolfe concludes that the degradation of language, symbolized by the peace sign of the Mercedes Benz, is what those two groups have in common. They are both barbarians inside the gates of Western Civilization. I suspect many of them converse on Facebook.

Sand2008-02-17 20:29:37
"Fuck" as an expletive is rather peculiar since the basic meaning of the words refers to copulation which is, to most people, I assume, a very pleasurable activity. In the army the use of the word has very little emotional force since it salts almost every sentence and is mostly a mere harmless colloquialism. In civilian life it is has not been as disreputable a word as in the past since many people in the past have passed through the armed forces. Most films which are routinely viewed by mixed age audiences use the word freely with no strong reaction but it is strictly forbidden on radio and some TV services which makes the whole business ridiculous. One funny cartoon I saw many years ago in Playboy showed a guy and his friend looking at a graffiti covered wall full of "fuck Joey, fuck Helen, fuck Jimmy, Allen sucks, Harry takes it in the rear etc." and the observer remarks: "Looks like a very friendly neighborhood."

Sand2008-02-17 20:41:35
Insofar as "barbarians within the gates" is concerned I wonder how the respected CEOs of large corporations that prove to be corrupt, congressmen who sell themselves to power, police who indulge in ethnic brutality, and many others who do terrible things speaking very acceptable language might compare to those who may not be linguistically pure and commit minor illegal activities.

Sand2008-02-17 20:44:28
Incidentally anybody who confuses the peace symbol with the Mercedes Benz logo symbol is totally inept in graphic symbolism.

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