Erdogan’s social media bans, Youtube dependencies, and Canadian political apathy

Helllllo world! Now unless you’re someone who just doesn’t follow the news, you’ve probably heard that Twitter and Youtube are now banned throughout Turkey. The bans have occurred within the span of two weeks, mostly in relation to today’s municipal elections. In terms of Twitter, Erdogan felt that it was being used as a platform to slander his name and that of the AK Party. Granted, banning the platform isn’t going to change people’s sentiments when they vote, just sayin’. In terms of Youtube, the ban occured in relation to a high-profile security leak linked to Turkey’s involvement in the Syrian conflict. More specifically, there was a video posted claiming to show Turkey’s foreign minister, spy chief, and a top general discussing scenarios that could lead to a Turkish attack against militants in Syria.

The 'error' message that shows up when I try to access Youtube

The ‘error’ message that shows up when I try to access Youtube

*sigh* Understandably, people are pissed – especially in relation to the Twitter ban which is really Erdogan’s way of shutting people up. Personally, I felt pretty nonchalant about the Twitter ban since I don’t use it BUT obviously as an individual I did think it was a violation of freedom of expression/speech. Thangs got serious for me when Erdogan banned Youtube. Now, anyone who knows me well knows that I *love* Youtube. Like,  Grease-level ‘Hopelessly Devoted’-type love. Like its a  ‘have my babies and marry me’ type of situation. Dramatic? I think not! The reason I love Youtube?  It encompasses everything and anything. Let me draw up a list of videos I recently watched on Youtube:

a) How to make a Snickers bar Cheesecake
b) Get ready with me on vacation
c) How to install kinky twists
d) Emmy Eats Ireland
e) Let Leslie Tell it – episode 13
f) First: a series premiere
g) Naomi Campbell reacts to Kimye’s Vogue Cover

One of my favorite Youtube channels: Emmy Made in Japan. People send her snacks from all around the world and she films herself eating them. Its amazing to say the least.

One of my favorite Youtube channels: Emmy Made in Japan. People send her snacks from all around the world and she films herself eating them. Its amazing!

AND THE LIST GOES ON PEOPLE! My point here being is that Youtube is both (a) a source of information and (b) a source of entertainment making it addictive in the best way possible.  Interestingly enough, I’ve always known I loved Youtube, but I never realized how *dependent* I was on it until the ban. I had actual heart palpitations y’all – it was so far from cute. Luckily, I’ve found a way around it (albeit being a bit slower than usual) and I’m back on! #addictsforthewin #rideordie

Another thing this ban highlighted for me was the sheer passion and intensity that Turkish people hold towards politics – a feeling that invades both public and private life. An example of this would be cars that drive around Istanbul and blast songs promoting different political parties, with the leaders faces plastered to their sides. It’s such an obnoxiously political intrusion on say,  a chat you’re having in an outdoor cafe. A private example would be my room-mates pissing themselves laughing about the present government and political parties, while expressing their utter disdain for the current administration. This has been particularly intense for me as a politically out-of-touch Canadian. I mean we *have* to be the definition of politically apathetic. When I’m at home, it rarely occurs to me how the current Canadian government affects my life. Politics serve as a minuscule blip on the radar of my life. So to go from Canada where my friends can’t even list the major political parties, to Turkey were people either aggressively love or hate their current PM is overwhelming to say the least.

A photo from protests resulting after 15-year old Berkin Elvan's death (a victim injured during Gezi last summer)

A photo from protests resulting after 15-year old Berkin Elvan’s death (a victim injured during Gezi last summer)

I was actually talking to my mom about this, and she pointed out that this passion towards politics is quite common in non-Western countries. Giving the example of Somalia, she told me that politics was always something young people debated about when they chilled and that everyone felt invested in the process. Analytically, its quite easy for me to surmise that Western political apathy results from the fact that we feel that our rights are secured and that we’re “taken care of” leading to a sense of stagnant comfort. I mean, its definitely true in the sense that the Canadian government would never ban a social media platform – it’d be absurd and arbitrary. But in Turkey, people’s rights are infringed upon all the time, at least in comparison to Western democracies.

Meanwhile in Canada....#straightchillin

Meanwhile in Canada….#straightchillin

Though I’m often judgemental of the West (and rightfully so), its moments like these that make me feel blessed to have been raised in a country where I can tweet “Stephen Harper is an ass” without anyone raising their brow.

#foodforthought #politicalapathy #canada #turkey



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