Friday, May 14, 2010

Facebook, Restaurant City, and political angst

If you know the game Restaurant City then you'd have no doubts about the connections between the two topics in the title of this blog post. If you're a player, you know how addictive it can be, especially once you've got your little restaurant to look just the way that pleases you and you're earning those virtual dollars real fast.

You're probably scratching your head about the third part, though.

For someone who connects her disparate parts on the internet... son in one city, daughter in another, herself halfway across the globe from familiar friends, family and food, Facebook gives a comforting...maybe illusionary, sense of connected identity. Two years now, in a country where they don't speak my language, where I'm still licking my wounds from having to depart some very good friends in another country. I shy away from making new friends knowing that I'm going to have to pack up and leave in a year or so. So what've I got? Facebook and Restaurant City. Pathetic, isnt' it?  Even worse....

If you're reading this blog, you may have also noticed that there was a huge gap in my blogging. Where've I been? What have I been doing? Well, depressed. Uninspired by life. Angst...caused by politics.

Who would have thought that the state of one's country political falling apart can affect one's psychological health? How complex one's sense of identity is. Group belonging, so basic a need, so unaware of its central role in our sense of well-being until it's been challenged.

These past months have been spent flicking through The Nation and Bangkok Post pages in between Facebook news feed and feeding my workers in Restaurant City. Facebook news feed was also supplying me with tweets from Suthichai Yoon which kept me up to date on developments during critical nights faster than the newspaper could. I was also able to exchange and calm some of my angst with one or two more "friends" who were more vocal about their political feelings than others. Trying to explain it away gave some comfort, but we were all pretty much helpless and had to simply watch  violence unravel itself.

At the start of 2010, it looked like things were going to move for the better, there were clear signs of economic recovery from the sub-prime financial crisis, Thaksin's Judgement Day trial was closing.    Then Abhisit's government under-estimated the aggressiveness of the Red Shirts and an attempted clear up of the protestors botched up on April 10.

He should have known better, I thought. All those M79 grenades being lobbed around Bangkok since the demonstration started should have been fair warning.

To date there are 30 dead, plus a reported 7 more since last night. How many more during this weekend's second attempt to clear up the protestors?

Why do we have to resort to military action against the people? Why are such people constantly attracted like moths to camp out for a fight where everybody loses? Why do people feel that their life is worth giving up for a twisted, outdated notion of nationhood? Isn't there a better way to fight for democracy, for equality than to tear your country apart?  

What is wrong with the Thai people?!!!!

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