A Personal Conflict: Web 2.0 in a War Zone
It is 3 am. I am 7 months pregnant and bone weary. My four year old son and I lie on the bed, fully clothed, shoes on, our muscles tensed like runners at a starting block.
Wooooooooooo. The bomb siren rips through the night. I grab my son, wrap his legs around my belly, and run. In the deep hours of darkness, my small house becomes a labyrinth. I wrench open the door and sprint across the graveled sand. My knees are buckling but my son’s body, pressed against his brother’s inside, pulls me forward: a reminder of how little time we have.
We throw ourselves into the waiting staircase, which is pressed full with wide-eyed children. We are the last to arrive before the siren wanes. The lights in the staircase, automatically timed, click off and someone gasps. We count the seconds. My son grips my hand.
BAM. BAM BAM BAM. The explosions are close, very close. We smell burning but can’t tell from the inside whether the bombs land near us or whether the sounds and smells are from the Iron Dome, a missile defense system that cloaks us overhead.
The babies muffle against their mothers’ shirts. Shoes scuffle. The night is cold and some wear only pajamas’ light cloth against their goosebumped skin. After a few minutes, each family rises to return home. I stroke my son’s face and make sure he is okay and we return to the bed to await the next round.
The first thing I do once we are settled is to check the internet. Social media is my sanity. No one is sleeping tonight in southern Israel. The messages come in from friends around the city. “Everyone okay?” From there I cast the net wider. I check with a Bedouin friend in nearby Rahat and a colleague who lives on a kibbutz whom I know will update. I leave the personal connections of Facebook and drift to Twitter, updating my status as a personal mark in our regional and national record books. I check the hashtags: #StopTheRockets, #IsraelUnderFire, #PillarOfDefense, #GazaUnderAttack.
In the war zone, I rely on Web 2.0 for human connections. It enables me to reach beyond geopolitical boundaries, cultural and national constraints. It is because I read the Twitter reports coming in from Gaza that in those silent, cold moments on the stairway, I think of the mothers and children who don’t have anywhere to run when their sirens sound.
My computer is my voice and with it I proclaim, “Not in my name.” It is my dream and my goal to use Web 2.0 to become a creative force in forming a community of listeners in Israel, Palestine, and beyond who, when they hear their national news, think of their sisters and brothers across the borders, and use social media to extend webs of kindness and caring into the world.