Friday, July 24, 2009

The Children Of #Iranelection

The world is filled with all sorts of people. The same can be said for Twitter. People from different backgrounds, races, income brackets, and sexual preference to name a few, jump on Twitter for a wide variety of reasons. Some partake in the world's largest soapbox, while others want to find out what's going on in the world, and/or let the world know what they're doing. And then there are the folks on Twitter who are on Twitter and do all three of the above mentioned activities.
The Iran related threads on Twitter was an encampment for hundreds of hardcore supporters of the protesters in Tehran. They took advantage of the soapbox, received and broadcast information about what was happening on the ground in Tehran....and slammed the door on anyone who did not conform with their positions. In other words, anyone who came onto threads such as #iranelection in late June of 09 and did not declare full blown support for the Mousavi crowd or failed to condemn the Iranian government were labeled as "Gov't agents" or "Basij agents looking to spread false rumors and trick protesters into revealing their names and locations in Iran."
The thought process was painfully simple: If you were not with the protesters, then you were against them.
This shouldn't be too surprising since the majority of folks passionately posting about the situation in Iran were students and others in their early to mid twenties. Children really, who know very little about the real world aside from what some of their ultra-leftist professors extolled them with in college. They are old enough to know what was right and what was wrong, but how to contend with it was another story. By the time one reaches the age of 21 or 22, the mind has not fully matured. They lack, for the most part, ample amounts of real world experience. Americans in this age group add the extra ingredient of being spoiled brats who are used to having things go their way. So when the mullahs in Tehran were not doing what the children on #iranelection wanted them to do, the children decided to scream their heads off, demand that the mullah's conform to their expectations, and sling mud. The children unleashed the same tactic on the people on the threads who were not in full support of their efforts. They succeeded in driving off some of the pro-Irangov't crowd, yet their efforts did little to deter Eyeranprotestr.
Eyeranprotestr was attacked the moment he set foot on twitter. As the children passed tweets filled with rumors of strikes, death threats against Ahmadenijad, and 'reports' of police and military units siding with the protesters, I began launching tweets that refuted these reports and rumors. No mainstream western media outlets were reporting anything of the kind. The internet and twitter in Iran was all but shut down. Nothing was coming out of the country from anyone. The government was clamping down, that much was apparent. Nevertheless, the children were not to be deterred. Iran related retweets flooding twitter were 'the truth.' Reality was ignored. Mir Mousavi was a god who was destined to ride the sea of green to claim his 'rightful' place as president of Iran. The children on Twitter believed that their duty was essential to the success of the protesters in Iran. Yeah, sure. Like the Ayatollah is going to be brought to his knees because thousands of children on Twitter despise him.
Apparently, the children thought this.
Every attempt I made to have a discussion on what was happening in Iran met resistance. Eyeranprotestr was not conforming to the expectations of the children. The more I tried to engage in conversation questioning the reports of 'hundreds of thousands of protesters in the streets' for example, I was shouted down and labeled a government agent or member of the Basij. Here's an example.....

Thedissent: RT @Eyeranprotestr is Basij agent. Block him. Hear that CRUNCH, Eyeranprotestr? Its the Peoples' boots They're coming 4 u #iran #iranelection

After seeing a thousand of these lies, I decided to fight fire with fire. The children were ignoring reality and wanted Eyeranprotestr to be a hated Basij-like pro-Ahmadenijad bastard, so the Eyeranprotestr was going to accomodate them.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Words of June:Beginning

June 19. At Friday morning religious services Ayatollah Khameini addressed his nation. He declared the results of the presidential election as 'legitimate' and cautioned that protests would 'no longer be tolerated.' Tehran was already teetering on the verge of chaos. Angry students and supporters of Mousavi were taking to the streets in ever increasing numbers and fervor, demanding that the results of the June election be overturned and Mir Mousavi be declared the winner. In response, riot police and Basij deployed to the streets in even greater numbers. The stage was potentially set for a second Iranian revolution.
Media coverage of the events in Iran was touch and go. Western news agencies especially, were relying on 'direct reports' from the demonstrators in Tehran, who were using text messaging, Twitter and even Facebook to get descriptions, video and photographs to the outside world. The Iranian government was slow to respond and for a while it appeared that Twitter was going to be the weapon that carried the day for the protesters. CNN, MSNBC, FoxNews and nearly every other Western media outlet were all glued to Twitter, monitoring the Tweets coming out of Tehran and reporting them. Journalists around the globe were showering praise on Twitter for aiding the effort of the pro-Mousavi demonstrators.
Like the rest of the world, I was watching the events in Iran closely. I was also following the tweets supposedly coming from protesters in Tehran. Twitter was the hotbed of support for the Iranian protesters. Tweets and re-tweets burned up cyberspace with talk of protests being organized, questions about specific protesters and their whereabouts, and a list of the foreign embassies willing to take in wounded protesters, just to name a handful of topics. And of course, there were rumors. Rumors of high ranking Iranian government officials coming out in support of Mousavi, of Republican Guard units refusing to enter the city and crush the protests, and reports that a general strike was being planned. These all circulated throughout Twitter. Many of these claims were not being reported in the mainstream media. As time went on, it was increasingly difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.
I was quite reluctant to believe most of the claims on Twitter, or the sources of the information. Their authenticity was very suspect. Names suich as Persiankiwi and Oxfordgirl were well known across Twitter at this point as people who were on the ground in Tehran and reporting despite the dangers. Who was to say that the people claiming to be in Tehran were actually there? Who was to say that their reports were authentic? They could just as easily be Iranian government agents posing as protesters, or, more likely, simply folks elsewhere playing games.
Nevertheless, tens of thousands of people on Twitter were tuning in, absorbing the 'news from Tehran' and offering their support.....without any hard evidence. I didn't think it could be so easy to influence people. I mean, yes, this was Twitter and the internet, and one must always be careful, but I simply could not fathom how thousands of people were blindly believing and passing along the words of others without any proof. People could not be that foolish, right?
Well, I had to find out for my own. My strategy was simple: create a handle, go on twitter, come across as a somewhat pro-Iranian government person and see what develops. The most difficult part appeared to be creating a name for Twitter. I wanted the handle to be somewhat light in the hopes that most people would eventually realize I wasn't openly supporting the Islamic Republic. After some consideration, I came up with what I thought would be an appropriate name: EyeranProtestr.
It took a few minutes to create the profile and fill in the necessary information. On June 20th, EyeranProtestr was born and the journey commenced.
I was not prepared for where it would take me, or what I would learn about people, twitter, the internet, and most importantly, about myself as a result.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Name Is.....

Irrelevant. However, you can call me EyeranProtestr, Eyeranprotestr2, PersianKiwie, PersianKwikie, or just plain Mike. They're all Aliases, so please feel free to pick whichever one you'd like.