It is a truth universally acknowledged* that trying to change someone’s mind over the internet and more specifically over Facebook does not work.
A few years ago now, I decided that I would stop engaging with people over social media, in a usually failed attempt to change their mind or even persuade them to open their eyes (just a bit), when it came to the Cyprus problem and the island’s history. However, every now and again I indulge my masochistic side and respond. I have to admit that there are times that I am simply curious to hear what they have to say.
Why should they change their minds and who am I to shift their view of our problem? With some having experienced unimaginable tragedy and hardship, it almost seems immature and perhaps even naïve of me to try.
Nevertheless, I don’t believe I’m trying to change their minds. It’s more like an attempt to impart the fact that there is more than one version of events and more than one point of view (as is always the case).
Our Facebook news feed makes it increasingly easy for us to surround ourselves with ‘like-minded’ people and even more so, do the groups we choose to join on the popular social media site.
As I said, sometimes I indulge myself and engage with Cypriots who do not live on the island but also who will not be diverted from a particular line of thinking; Turkish Cypriots who believe that Enosis is still alive and well, and that Greek Cypriots still long for union with their so-called ‘motherland’. I try to reason with them, to explain that even if there were Cypriots that longed for such a union, the group is small and no one pays any attention to them. They say, I don’t know my history and that I am ‘lost’, that they are ‘experts’ on ‘Greeks’.
Even as I write this, I know some of you will be thinking that the one community is practically a mirror-image of the other; with similar words being spoken by Greek Cypriots living abroad who believe the exact same thing of the other community and who refer to themselves as Greek or Turkish, as opposed to Cypriot.
These are the Cypriots (both Greek and Turkish) who prefer to immerse themselves in their own version of the truth, perpetuate myths about the other community and encourage chauvinism amongst the youth.
I know of many activists who pour their hearts into trying to change people’s minds through channels such as Facebook and Twitter. Social media is a powerful tool and one that’s used time and time again to rally people for peace, but unfortunately is sometimes used to bring people together for the wrong cause.
Some Cypriots both at home and abroad continue to undermine the work achieved by activists on the ground.
The stories we tell ourselves can only comfort us for a while; they will never pave the way for long-lasting truth and peace.
*The phrase is derived from the first line of Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice.