By: Ashur Sada
Being a webmaster for 16 years now, I had observed something about the average online Assyrian user: they enjoyed consuming more entertainment material than doing some serious reading or research. That is, they spent more time looking at pictures, listening to music and viewing YouTube videos than they did reading the news, books or doing research. And it is not necessarily a bad thing nor does it mean that the average Assyrian has a personality that likes to have more fun than to be educated and aware of what is happening in the world.
But lately, things are starting to change. I have noticed a shift from time spent doing fun things online to more time spent reading the news and other serious articles and online activism. Suddenly, people who had a habit of sharing music and videos they liked, are now sharing news stories and articles with me. And this is happening every day, for months now and it is only increasing in volume.
This new hunger for more online reading and activism can be attributed to the events in Iraq and Syria and what Assyrians in the region have been enduring under the hands of ISIS since June 2014. The situation has been so serious since ISIS’ takeover of the Iraqi city of Mosul and the neighboring Assyrian region of ‘Nineveh Plain’ , that Assyrians have had to adopt a new online attitude. It require that we too become more serious and spend less time on online entertainment. People are still free to do both-life can’t be serious all the time-but we should also recognize that the situation requires that we are more involved, educated and aware of the latest.
This new hunger for reading and discovery is a great thing. It couldn’t come at a better time. An educated nation is one that is more ready to face the future. In our ever more connected world today, knowledge is power. The more information you have at your disposal, the better decisions you are likely to make. Which is why it is a good thing that Assyrians are arming themselves with new knowledge about the situation in the middle east, who their friends are, who their enemies are, how they can help their people, what other countries are doing, what our own parties are doing, where do our churches stand, what lobbying efforts are active on our behalf and so much more.
A few days ago, I read an interesting update from Assyrian singer Walter Aziz on his FP page: he announced, that due to the serious situation our nation is in as well as the recent passing of Mar Dinkha IV , he had decided to postpone the release of his new album for the time being. Smart decision on his part. I am not suggesting that life should stop or all fun activities be cancelled. But if you can do it, sure, why not? And for something like an album release, it can certainly wait and in fact, people will appreciate it even more.
There is a time and place for everything. For the time being, while the situation is still very serious for the Assyrian nation and people, let us spend a bit more time on reading and educating ourselves on what is happening. Be more active. Send an email. Sign a petition. Read articles. Do research. Get others involved. And remember, what you do online is no substitute for what you can do in person and in the offline world. But this article is concerned with what Assyrians do online.
It is the least we can do if we are not going to be on the ground protecting our people, villages, cities and historical sites.