It’s been nearly two weeks since I came back to take care of 2famous.TV’s Beirut office.
I was chilling out in Nepal with Matias, Adrian and Knut and left the website in the hands of our newly recruited Beirut team. They’re a brilliant team of talented writers that turned out to be rather, well, unproductive. So we had a general board meeting and came to the conclusion that one of us had to be sent home to take care of the business. It had to be an authoritative personality with a brilliant mind that would return from the East with wisdom and wit to encourage the god-forsaken newbies of the site to produce more stories. I was the chosen one *blush*, and a steel eagle flew me over vast lands to save the site. But, alas! I have failed! I have spent more time in bed than in the field, so to speak, and have fallen under the spell of the city! A spell that makes you do all sorts of stuff that you really don’t have to do, instead of the things that you’re really supposed to do, but that are less fun. I wouldn’t call myself lazy, I’m just culturally adapted.
Anyway, now that I’m under this spell I might as well say a few words about Beirut.
I fucking freaked the fuck out my first week here. It was back in 2009, and Israel had fired a dozen rockets into the south. I thought that WWIII was on its way, so I called my local friend to seek advice.
I fucking freaked the fuck out my first week here. It was back in 2009 and Israel had fired a dozen rockets into the south. I thought that WWIII was on its way, so I called my local friend to seek advice. She just laughed and assured me that this was absolutely normal. It is almost like an annual thing, she explained. At this time of the year there are usually some shootings or rocket exchanges between Israel and the South. No worries, really…so I got used to that. I got used to the fact that sometimes someone is shooting at someone else for reasons I don’t really understand. I also got used to all the men carrying machine guns on the streets and the heavy army vehicles stationed at “strategic” spots all over the city. I also got used to the random fireworks that decorate the sky at night during the summer months. (I never quite got why they shoot up fireworks during the day, but I got used to that too.)
Then, there was the real bomb in Aschrafieh and I had to call my parents to assure them that I was alright, and that there was nothing happening in Beirut. This is normal, I lied to my mother while reminding her that I was also almost blown up by a bomb in Oslo. She didn’t really buy into my theory that Norway was as dangerous as Lebanon, but she liked hearing my voice and knowing that I was safe.
And then there is Syria which is not more than two hours away by car no matter where you are in Lebanon. That place is all over the news these days. Yes, it is completely out of control fucked up, like, seriously, but it hasn’t really affected my life in Beirut. I mean, the newspapers that I read give me the impression that war is hitting Lebanon at any moment and it makes me nervous. But when I look at these streets I see something else. I have never seen more shops, bars and boutiques opening in this city, and new buildings are popping up everywhere. War seems immensely far away when people are preparing for yet another great summer. And most of all: I feel safe.
as much as I think journalism is super fucking important, it’s also fueling the stigmatized image of war and disaster that Lebanon is so tragically infamous for.
So why are all these eyes on Lebanon now? Well, first of all you have to know that Beirut is packed to the rim with journalists from all over the world. Since none of these journalists really has any first-hand experience from Syria to write home about, small incidents that happen in Lebanon get magnified with international exposure. And, as much as I think journalism is super fucking important, it’s also fueling the stigmatized image of war and disaster that Lebanon is so tragically infamous for. It scares the tourists away and it contributes to creating a distorted image of what Lebanese people really are like.
I’ve been here for more than three years now and I really don’t identify with the stereotypical images that come out of this country. I don’t go to Skybar, I don’t hang out with Miss Lebanon (though I would have liked to nominate a handful of my friends for the title), and I definitely don’t go to war. That’s why we started 2famous.TV in the first place; to fight the stigmatized image produced by the news.
We started off by publishing cultural stories and tales related to everyday life here. We try to entertain our readers with our (often awkward) experiences, and we try to share the best events we come across. Sometimes we try to push the boundaries of blogging in Beirut by inviting people to write for us about controversial but important issues, such as Professor Faggot who wrote about being a Swedish homosexual in the Middle East. We do our best, and we do have a decent amount of followers, but it is hard to create a continuous flow of great content. We want our readers to get to know the person writing, not just a piece of text written by an anonymous author. That’s why we’re looking for something a little more stable than just a guest post entry here and there.
So, I’d like to address this “letter” to our Beirut team. We need you to keep up the good work and continue writing about your lives in Lebanon. It might seem silly to you, but I think what you’re doing is quite important. And I promise, dear readers, that I too will be more productive in the future and share with you what’s on my mind <3 Thank you, Jørgen Evil Ekvoll
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