Archive 2012

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December 2012

I am Engaged

Posted by dshalabi in 26. Dec, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

Dear reader, don’t get the wrong idea from the title you just read on the top of the page! This post is not about my engagement party, my fiancé, nor my great plan for the wedding . I am still single, and rest assured that if I were to be engaged, I wouldn’t be blogging about the details of that phase in my life to the whole world. You see, I still think that there are things in life that should remain private and my love life, should it ever exist, would be one of them.

However, I am talking about an interesting class of girls here in Jordan who believes otherwise, as this interesting group of women has no problems with sharing every detail of their engagement with the whole world. These are the “I am Engaged Girls”, and they are easy to recognize.

With any of these girls, the guy would still be putting a ring on her finger and she would only have one thing on her mind. She would be so eager to change the relationship status on her FB profile from “Single” to “Engaged”, and yes the status does change 15 minutes after the engagement party. The morning after the engagement the “I am engaged” girl would fill her FB profile with pictures of the engagement party. She would then receive the floods of mabrooks from her friends along with a commentary on how sexy she looks and how handsome the fiancé is. Of course the fiancé being handsome is important, as it highlights her ability to capture a handsome man who agreed to marry her. After all, this would be a girl’s biggest achievement in this society right?

Then on that same day after the engagement, the “I am Engaged Girls” almost instantly grow an interesting capacity to love. All of their photos from that day and for the next few months to come will be of them and the handsome guy who put a ring on their finger.

Half of the photos will be of their guys putting their arms around them and the second half would be of them putting their arm around their guys. These camera loving poses are not to be taken lightly, as they are a reiteration of the fact that the girls found someone they can call theirs. In some of those photos the I am engaged “girl would be holding the guy so closely, and as if she is stopping him from running away. After all, the ability to “catch” a man is like finding a treasure any girl will steal away at any time. You see, the “I am engaged” girl will also believe that her single friends are jealous of her.

The locations in which these photos are taken are also very important, as they are mostly taken in five star restaurants, five star cafes, five star hotel lobbies and resorts. These locations are not chosen by chance, as they are meant to make an important statement , the statement being  “My fiancé takes me out, to nice places, and he has money”

The captions will mostly say “Me and my baby at xxx”, or me and (heart) at xxx”. The underlying message here is that the girl and “Her Baby” are so in love. In my simple unknowing single mind I am wonder if what a girl and a guy say to each other is private, and if the words love, heart, and baby are not things we should be saying openly about anyone on our FB page. But that is just me.

Then again, in our society the only time you are allowed to openly call someone your love is when the ring is on your finger, and it is the only time you won’t be shunned for saying it in public. But here the reference to my love, my heart, my baby are done so fast you would have to wonder how the love grew after an arranged engagement and a few meetings only.

As the months go by, these girls’ abilities to express themselves change as well. They drop all the references to “I” and replace them with “We”. So, Instead of saying “I” like , “I” want, “I” feel, they say “We like”, We think”, and “We feel”. They would sit with their friends and say “Me and 7abeebee (My love) xxxx, love this restaurant”, “Me and (My love) 7abeebee xxx want to buy a house”, “We decided”, “We thought”, “We believe our kids, should” since the guy will never ever be referred to in his first name alone. Even when he does call her, she says “7abeebee (My love) is on the phone”, an announcement she has to make in public, and then she picks up the phone and says “Yes 7abeebee”.

Miraculously these girls and their fiancés develop the same opinion. They love the same songs, same food, and same countries. But then again their topics of conversation are narrowed down to the wedding, the lights, the DJ, the food, the honeymoon. the dress, oh and the mother in law whom they will do everything in their power to ensure that she doesn’t interfere. Of course the mother in law is damned as a daemon from hell if she was ever to say anything about the dress, the dj, the wedding, the honeymoon, or anything else that would stand in the way of “I am engaged” girl’s wedding day .

One day, one of those “I am engaged” girls was saying one terrible thing after the other about the Mother in Law in front of me, and I , “the unknowing pathetic single girl” found myself asking what appeared to be a dumb question. I simply asked her “Wouldn’t life be easier for you and the groom if you tried to be friends with the Mother in Law. After all, it is her son’s wedding too” . I said these words and needless to tell you the girl looked at me as if I were stupid and innocent coz I am not engaged.

So yes, these girls talk about the Mother in Law as if she were the monster standing in the way of her and her love’s happiness. This is simply because the mother in law is stopping her from having the dream wedding and the wedding is far more important than the guy himself at that point. Who will ever talk about the guy if the wedding wasn’t a festival in itself sparking everyone’s envy? The guy and the wedding are her biggest achievement in life.

As the months go by, the photos in the restaurants and resorts decrease with time and that is simply because the girl is preparing for the wedding. At this point she reads Bride Magazine, and starts looking at weddings on TV for ideas. Then, the me and 7abeebee xxx changes to Me and 7abeebee xxx want to have our wedding in the Four Seasons but his awful mother plays with his head. “His sister said”, “His Brother thinks”, “My mother told me to be careful from his mother”, “My dad disagrees”, and of course “My stupid mother in law doesn’t want me to by the flowers that cost xxx JD. She is jealous of me because her son loves me” .

Now if you happen to know one of these “I am engaged girls” you will be living through every detail of her life. You will know about the intimate conversations, the fights, the money and what her mom said about the fights, what her dad said about the fights, and you will even know the guy’s shoe size, blood type, his favorite perfume, his favorite food, his favorite drink, what he said about her hair, what she said about his shirt, their first kiss, their second kiss, and their third kiss. She will even tell you the nicknames he gives her and how long they spoke on the phone the night before.

.As a result of her inability to talk about anything else, you will find that If you ever happen to meet the much spoken about 7abeebee fiancé, you will blush inevitably. You will feel that you know too much. After all, it would kind of be embarrassing to talk normally to a guy whom you know a little too well. , and who you know the shoe size of even if you are meeting for the first time.

But meet the I am engaged girl one month after the wedding and you will realize straight away that the “7abeebee” is replaced by a first name, the mother in law has been surrendered to, and if the phone rings she will say it is “xxx” (his name) asking about lunch. The last photos you will ever see of her on FB are those of the wedding she diligently posted the next day, and the spark of the “I am engaged” phase dims to be replaced with reality.

After all, to all these girls I would say, it isn’t the engagement itself that is important. It is finding someone who is beyond what you had for lunch, what the flowers looked like, and where he went on a honeymoon with you. It is not an engagement but it is a life . The real achievement isn’t getting the ring on the finger but rather it is who put the ring on the finger, an achievement only you could celebrate, but then again try telling that to the typical “I am engaged girl”. What do we single people know?

Where do we draw the line ?

Posted by dshalabi in 24. Dec, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

In our people centered Ammanite society, where we place a high premium on personal relationships, we tend to do everything in our power to ignore the bad and highlight the good in everyone we deal with. Whether we are dealing with a friend , family member, colleague, or even a spouse, we tend to give this person allowances to emotionally and even abusively “misbehave”. After all, it is not uncommon to have that one relative who we ignore, even though we know that they are hurtful. We usually do that not out of stupidity but rather out of the need to keep the peace. Similarly, we all have that one less intelligent friend, who we refuse to call ignorant in fear of hurting their feelings, and not to mention the acquaintance who lies and who we smile at because we can’t risk calling him/her a liar. We also all have come across the person with an awful temper, but whom we digest because we know he/she has a kind heart.

But, despite our abilities to tolerate, I do wonder why we go through the trouble? Are we all seriously so scared of ending up friendless, family-less, or lonely, that we choose to tolerate and understand the other without limits? On the one hand, tolerance is a good thing, it just means that people will also tolerate us when we boarder on the insane, irrational, and even bizarre, and that is if all the people we tolerate, tolerate us in return. On the downside it also keeps friendships that should have died, and relatives that should have walked out of our lives around much longer than needed.

So, is there a limit to our tolerance level? Do we ever get to the point where we have tolerated a little too many shortcoming in the people we know? And, if we are all walking around tolerating the world, where is the point where we are no longer merely tolerating someone’s shortcomings but rather engaging in an abusive or even toxic interaction? Where do we draw the line between tolerance and emotional abuse?

Of course we can all simply say that an interaction is abusive when it is no longer making us feel good about ourselves, because in the least selfish of terms, we would expect our acquaintances, family, and friends to tell us when we are being total idiots, but we would also want them to say something good to us when we are doing something right too. So, yes, we want to feel good about ourselves through the emotional mirrors others hold up for us, and that is only because we expect to make others feel good about themselves in return. So, do we draw trhe line at that point where the person we are dealing with has absolutely nothing good to say about us?

Within these definitions, I ask, is it really ok for our friends to call us when they are down, only to use their emotional state as an excuse to lose their temper at us, and insult us, or worse hurt us with their words?

It is a moral dilemma when you think about it, because if you are put in such a situation, you will find that on the one hand you want to be the supportive understanding friend but on the other hand you are really hurt by what the friend says to you in their moments of anger, especially if that friend shouted at you for “Not understanding them”, “Not being there for them”, “Not caring”, or worse “Being too shallow and too pathetic for their problem”.

So, what do you do in this situation? Would you still take on the role of the good friend and digest the insults, or would you walk away saying “ Listen I don’t know how to help you, and if there is anything I can do let me know”?

I have once walked away but I felt awful 30 minutes later. But, then again in another situation option one made me feel worse because the insults were getting too personal so that they attacked my beliefs, my intelligence, and my understanding of things. I learned the hard way that being in such a situation only promises a lose/lose outcome but then again which is the bigger loss, losing a friend because you walked away or losing yourself and self esteem in the insults, the shouting, and the hurt?

What happens when we let a person say terrible things to us, apologize, and then say more terrible things, and apologize yet again, are we not equally responsible for this damaging pattern we have built for the friendship, family member, or colleague?

It is kind of like allowing a boss to insult you once, twice, and three times, and that had happened to me many years ago where it was only on the fourth time that I told the boss “Listen keep your inferiority complex at home, and don’t shout at me-DON”T SHOUT AT ME” .That day yes I was internally satisfied by shutting the boss up, but this story has no heroic outcome on the career level . In fact I also got a warning because the boss was shocked at the response. She was shocked because I was the first employee ever to tell her that. However, had I done that the first time she dared to raise her voice, there wouldn’t have been a second, third, or fourth time, she would have gotten the point and she wouldn’t have found my comment insulting.
Relationships of any kind, friendship, family, work, or romance, turn abusive and toxic when we let them. When we let the other person cut us inside, and especially when it is done more than once, even walking away doesn’t feel great.

I am thinking about this issue because just this morning I lost a good friend of mine, because of the insults. We ended our friendship because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I said things that were terrible in response to even more terrible things that were said to me. The awful sms war ended with me asking my friend never to talk to me again and my friend blocking me off facebook. Of course, in our modern digital age the ultimate sign of war is the block button, the block button is the ultimate sign of victory for the abuser, as it gives him/her the chance to send you a hateful message you can’t even reply to, a message that sits in your inbox as a souvenir of the day the emotional war got out of hand.

The block, the finality of it, my last sms meant that I was freed from weeks of continued insults. But, if you are wondering if it feels good or not, I can tell you it doesn’t feel heroic, it doesn’t feel good, and I don’t feel great about it even though I requested it nor do I feel great about myself even.
The experience left me with many questions . It left me wondering, about those people who jump to point out what is bad in us, and if they were really ever our friends?
And when they block us after a fight so easily and with a click of button, were we ever friends to begin with? Isn’t a friendship broken a friendship that never started? Or, are our egos forcing us to engage in a who had the last word contest? Was I allowing the tolerance to boarder on the toxic? Shouldn’t I have walked away 3 weeks ago when my friend showered me with insults and I accepted the apology?

Or, should I have been more understanding, maybe even listened more than talked. If I did, then the situations wouldn’t get to the points of no return.

So once again I ask where do we draw the line between being more tolerant and engaging in a repetitive scenario of emotional abuse. Couldn’t we stop the insults and shut our mouths, stop our fingers from typing, and just let the other person be, a few seconds longer?

Where do you draw the line?
Where should we draw the line?

The Right to Remain Silent

Posted by dshalabi in 20. Dec, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

When I met Um Ahmad for the first time, I really didn’t know that I was about to be sent on a journey of self discovery for myself, my temper, my tolerance, and my expanding list of pet peeves.

I have to clarify here that Um Ahmad in fact was a friendly old woman, in fact the minute she saw me, she oddly asked me to sit in front of her so that she can understand my face, whatever that meant. When I heard that request I found it rather odd, but it was still too early in the morning for me to argue. I thought to myself “Whatever? I am not going to discuss such an issue with someone years older than me”, so obediently, I sat in front of her and she examined me only to say that I looked “nice”.

I know what you are thinking while reading this, you are thinking that she probably wanted to see if I am the right face for an eligible bachelor, so let me put your mind at ease right here and right now and tell you that that’s not it. She just wanted to see how pretty I look or don’t look as a means of personal validation, and the next sentence she told me proves my point.

You see after Um Ahmad diligently checked out my weight, my high, and my eye color, and hair color she went on for no reason, what so ever, to tell me that everyone thinks she is at least 10 years younger than her age and that she doesn’t understand why people lie about their age. At that point, I didn’t get if she was trying to say that I am lying about my age, which I never do, or if she was trying to prove she is just as young as me in spirit.

Again, I thought to myself that I am just going to tell Um Ahmad whatever she wants to hear so I said “Aunty you do look younger than your age, I only know how old you are because you told me the age of your kids and I did the math”, although knowing me, the math is something I would never successfully do.

To put things more into perspective, that day I met Um Ahmad by chance, through a mutual friend, and I happened to be in the same car as her because we were driving together to a joint destination with a few other people.
Seeing that it was going to be long drive, I opted to cut conversations short. I just knew that the possibility of us arguing was more probable than not, especially since she went on to tell me that the coffee I was drinking was not healthy, a fact I all ready know and I am fine with, simply because the world is better off with me drinking my coffee in the morning. Oddly enough she told me how bad coffee is for the health while lighting a cigarette, and at that point I couldn’t help but ask myself which is worse for the health the coffee or the smoking?
Unfortunately, silence was not an option with her. A few minutes later into the journey, she went on to tell me, how she only likes documentaries, classical movies, and things with meaning, oddly enough linking this preference with movies like “Meet Joe Black”, “Forest Gumb”, and “The Terminal” as her choices of classic film.

At this point, I have to say that I am not for the all pretentious type , nor am I one of those people who believes that everything in life has to have a higher cosmic purpose. Left to my own devices, I wouldn’t have judged her on her choice of film whatever it may have been and I personally love the movies she had spoken about. After all, I don’t claim to be the most educated and cultured person on the planet, and like all people, I enjoy good taste in books, films, and whatever else, but I am also all for the pointless silly songs, films, jokes, and other attributes that make life interesting.

So, I nodded and told her that those were great movies, which they are in my opinion, but I would hardly call them non-commercial films.
As we left Amman, Um Ahmad seemed to get bored so in her attempt to make conversation she asked me what I studied. I told her that I had studied English and Comparative Literature. She then went on to tell me in response to that, that no school in the Middle East teaches literature properly and that I should read the classics.
I smiled to myself while wondering, what was it exactly about my look that gave off the impression that I was a bimbo, or that I didn’t read the classics, was it the blonde hair that made her believe that I was a dumb blond?

Is she assuming that I am faking my field of study too?. With these questions in my head I calmly said “I did read the classics Aunty” but this response wasn’t convincing enough for her. She replied “But universities these days only make you read the summary not the real thing. “.I replied “No I actually read the………….” and then I paused for a minute and thought to myself , why should I care what this lady’s opinion is. She obviously is someone who seems to enjoy being the most cultured, well read, and well aware person in the room, the car, the house, or anywhere else she happens to be in. It seems like she can only achieve this goal by putting others down, so let her be.

She didn’t really care if I read anything or not. She just wanted to prove that she knew better than me. So, I consciously decided to give her her moment of fame and said “Yes Aunty, you are probably right” while smiling on the outside and bubbling with anger on the inside.
I really wanted to tell her that I read Latin literature in their original size and form, medieval literature in medieval English, and that the university I went to didn’t make us read the summarized version of anything. I also wanted to tell her that for some classes we had to literally sleep in the library , and that I know what I was talking about when I say I studied literature, but then I figured that by doing so, I would be just as annoying as she is. I figured, who on this planet cares if I or this lady read anything be it a newspaper, a classical 1000 page novel, the encyclopedia, the dictionary, the Holy Quran, the Bible, or the nutritional facts on the side of a cereal box?

It is not like we should go through life telling everyone we meet what we know and what we read. We are not required to list our certificates and life achievements to the random stranger. In fact, doing so would make us seem like pathetic people who flaunt knowledge because our real personalities contain nothing of real value to share. After all, we only learn to develop ourselves and certainly not for the sake of listing what we know to some random stranger on the bus , who is only interested in a “who knows more” contest.

While thinking in that direction, Um Ahmad interrupted my thoughts again and said, “Your generation sweetie only cares about TV, and not even documentaries but rather silly shows, because moms don’t take the time to educate their kids.”

I nodded in agreement while looking at my watch to see how long I had to put up with her. “ My kids were brought up to appreciate the finer things in life. My son doesn’t smoke, or drink, or do anything wrong because I made sure I did my role as a mother “ she said as she lit another cigarette .

At that point, I thought to myself “Does this lady seriously think we come from broken homes , where our mothers’ were bad at what they did, are we all shallow people who don’t appreciate the finer things in life , or is her son the only person on this planet who is well raised ?” I really wanted to ask her these questions, but I let her be. Instead, I calmly replied “Aunty you are right, your son is lucky to have an educated and aware mother like you”

I simply decided then and there to practice my right to remain silent, not out of weakness, but out of the need to save myself the headache.

So, for the rest of the ride, I listened to Um Ahmad talk about how her best friend is an Israeli and how some Israelis are so considerate and even better than the Arabs, and I also listened to her talk about how she prepares the best food, and how everyone begs her to cook for them. I listened to her endless talks about how the people of today have no taste in music, and I listened to her speak about how she was preparing her autobiography, since obviously her life lessons are so important that we should all read and learn from her. I listened , and I listened , and listened nodding my head and smiling at everything she said.

Whenever I did allow my thoughts to drift to more pleasant factors in life, I glanced out the window, and for a few seconds I even forgot she was talking.

That sense of relief never lasted more than a few seconds, because she would notice I was not listening , and would instantly seek to gain my attention by either patting me on the shoulder, grabbing my hand, or clutching my arm to turn my head to face her again.

In fact, it was on that day that I even discovered something new about myself. I was not sure if it was just her or a general trait in me, but I realized then that I can’t stand women touching me, or calling me 7abeebtee (My love). To add to her “pleasant” traits Um Ahmad was in the most platonic of ways a touchy feely woman and it was aggravating, suffocating, and annoying. I was about to scream on more than one occasion, “Don’t touch me.”, but then I figured that doing so will grant me a reputation as a homophobic or freak.

No one will understand that although our culture seems to be ok with women holding other women’s hands, women walking arm in arm, and women even pecking each other on the cheek, and men doing the same, it was so not ok with me and that is just me.

I swallowed that interesting trait too, but I did wonder about our right to remain silent. I wondered how many people this woman annoyed in her life, and more importantly, how many people in our society just go around making assumptions, telling lies, and pretending they are something they are not, just because people like me decide not to fight them .To that effect, I wasn’t even sure if I had done the right thing in keeping my opinions to myself that day, but at least I had saved my ability to argue for people who are worth the argument.

Maybe that is why we practice our right to remain silent, that, or we are on a two hour ride with someone and we want to hold the peace.

Is it always a good idea to let people be, or is there a time where we have to tell the annoying people to shut up, the fibbers to stop fibbing, the assumers to stop assuming, the fakers to stop faking, and the arrogant to hit reality?
After all, not everyone practicing their right to remain silent is weak, just ask anyone who had been unfortunate enough to argue with me and they would tell you exactly how weak I am…………….. not :).

Note
Some facts in this story have been slightly altered and names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved. You can call it part fiction inspired by fact.

The Age of No Innocence

Posted by dshalabi in 16. Dec, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

About a month ago I gave a friend of mine a simple piece of advice. You see, at the time, that person was significantly upset about the lack of consideration of others. Trying to be the voice of wisdom, I said ,” You know what, Just don’t care whether others ask about you or not, don’t ask others to be considerate, and don’t expect them to be. That way when someone does something great for you, you would really be pleasantly surprised”.

A month later I got an sms from the same friend thanking me for this advice. At that point, my friend told me that life has become so much better with the caring factor conveniently removed from the emotional mix.

On the one hand, I was glad to help, after all if any of my friends are happy then I am happy, but on the other hand, this whole incident got me wondering about the way we have evolved in this uninviting society.

Thinking about the advice I had given, I couldn’t help but wonder, if we have all become so emotionally polluted ?

Is not giving a damn, our only hope for emotional survival today?

Let us face it, I am sure most of us had been forced into this awkward moment where a friend desperately seeks our romantic advice. More often than not, the minute someone tells us about a romantic problem where hes/he is being ignored we will switch to “the don’t give a damn” mode. We will probably rush to say “Don’t you dare call the other person, and don’t you dare show that you actually care about being ignored.”

Whether we like it or not, this has been the romantic advice passed on since the beginning of time. To this effect, entire books have been written about the subject of love and winning the heart of the one we love by ignoring. Such books often invite guys and girls to engage in webs of mind games where no party forming the couple says what he/she really wants from the other person, or what he/she wants the other person to do, not do, say, or even not say. The guy and the girl are often told to live their life and not make the significant other a priority.

In fact one book titled “Why Men Marry Bitches” devotes over 300 pages to tips and tricks for girls to follow in pursuit of love, and it doesn’t stop at love, but rather it also tells girls to win the guy and then perform more tricks to keep him long enough to propose.
You are probably wondering what is this secret recipe, and if you are single, you are probably thinking of buying the book to figure out how to achieve this perfect win/win situation, Well save you cash because, surprise surprise, the book in a nutshell tells girls the same thing that their mothers, grandmothers, and friends had told them for years. The book doesn’t engage in rocket science theorems but rather, it simply tells all girls  to pretend they don’t care, to let the guy run after them, and to treat the guy like an insignificant entity, just to get him to propose.

The book even encourages girls to cancel appointments, to never pass up an engagement with friends for a guy, and to consciously ignore phone calls just to pretend they have a life.

Funny enough, this is not the only book that advocates such behaviors, Works of fiction since the beginning of time have portrayed the girl who is not trying to get the guy as the winner and the guy who is swearing off girls as every girl’s desire. Think of “Pride and Prejudice”, “Love in the time of Cholera”, and the women in these books. Many books have been written with this same re-occurring theme.

Ahlam Mosteghanemi, the new Arab relationship guru, gets all her popularity by polluting women’s minds into thinking that men are scum and that women are the victims who should arm themselves by the art of forgetting, not caring, and not wanting.

About such advice, a friend of mine who is a devoted Ahlam fan even came up to me the other day and told me how it is a must that I read Ahlam’s latest book translated as “Black Suits You” . Her reasoning was that the book will show me just how selfish men are.

Hearing this heartfelt advice I thought to myself that I may not be up for such a read, and that I am really not in the mood to learn how men are selfish. After all, wouldn’t my life be better not knowing they are selfish and hoping that most of them are actually good people.

You see, according to all these books, men have one thing on their agenda and that is to demolish women. Men apparently are so complicated to the point where a woman is reduced to playing games in order to win the guy.

Similarly, guys are often told to not give a damn about the girl because doing so will make them seem too eager and so the girl is taught to turn down the eager guy and run after the one who treats her like dirt.

See how mixed up all this is? Just think, if we were to break it down, it just means that guys, girls and everybody should hide their real feelings, not care, and trick the others into liking them, when maybe just maybe we are likable people by just being ourselves.

At the end of the day, if it is all a game what happens when the tricks work and the guy and girl actually end up together?  Do they say “Game over, now let us be honest?” just wondering.

Moving away from romance, this not caring trick seems to be the remedy everyone advocates in day to day life. For example, we are also told to go to a job interview and not care about wanting the job, not to seem eager, not to ask when to expect feedback, and not to discuss salary. I am thinking,  isn’t this a bit odd? After all, why would anyone go to an interview if the job wasn’t significant enough for them at some level? Why is it bad form to ask about the salary when a big portion of our choice to take a job is governed by number?

If a friend hurts us we shouldn’t care enough to say anything and if a parent scared us with hurtful comments we shouldn’t say we were hurt. So basically we are encouraged most of the time not to care, not to ask, not to expect, and not express our emotions.
It is only because  we are bombarded with advice on not caring , that we get to a stage in life where we mistake nice for silly, someone liking us for someone being needy, and someone romantic for a freak.You see, the not caring thing may relieve us and shields us from disappointment, but in the long run doesn’t it also make us blank people with no feelings. Doesn’t it put huge barriers to conversation, emotion, and the very attributes that make us human beings with souls?

On a more personal level, I have to say that I am not proud of the advice I had given my friend nor do I think it is healthy to go through life hiding how we really feel. If anything I believe it is exhausting. But on that particular day, my friend was in need for advice and I dished out a dose of reality, even if the reality is bleak.

At the end of the day, I think we have two choices in life, either we continue to live this dark existence where we don’t care and we don’t feel and we don’t let the world know about our decreasing moments of feeling, or we actually decide to care and to show that we care ,even it leaves us with disappointment, success, failure, love, hate, depression or joy. We can choose to simply  take the risk and be human.
Having said that, I am wondering, what would you choose?

Over 800 People ?

Posted by dshalabi in 05. Dec, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

People often have mood swings, and I like most people have mine. Last Wednesday for example, I was showing off the worst version of myself, I had the worst mood.

A colleague at work even asked “Why are you like the voice of doom today?” , I replied that I wasn’t sure why, then she said “ you are usually the optimistic one. You are one of the most optimistic people I know, don’t go negative on us”, but the truth was that I didn’t know why I was unable to be the cheerful optimistic one. My usual “I don’t give a damn attitude” was far from me and I was simply unable to stop myself from getting one awful thought after the other. The truth was that just the night before I read a very sad book titled “Aroos Amman”- “The Bride of Amman”, a book that tells the depressing story of women and their relationships. I don’t want to spoil the book for you , but in essence it told stories that make single girls seem pathetic in this society., and as a person who thinks life can be good in any way, any place, and any form, the book killed any hope in good life I had, or at least it did at that time, .

Feeling too sad, I just knew that I couldn’t spend my evening alone , after all I am an intensive dramatic Scorpio with self destructive tendencies. Just kidding, I am not that pathetic or that intense, but I simply didn’t want to isolate myself as I seriously was afraid of the dark thoughts I may have .
So to avoid losing myself in self pity, self pity inflicted by the difference between the truth and what I thought the truth was, the family reminder of what I didn’t do, and the failure to stick to anything , including things as simple as a diet, I opted to go out with friends, and until that moment in time I thought that I had many,.

Numbers reveal all sad truths. As it was on that day that I realized that out of 517 Facebook contacts and 340 names on my phone, I found myself embarrassed to call most. Most of the people on my list were mere acquaintances. They were people I know from work , an organization, a friend of a friend of a friend, or people who don’t want to see me unless I have a comedy routine going , or unless I was bright cheerful, with useful insightful things to say, and preferably some smart advice to give about their romantic problems, crushes, or problems in life.

Let us face it we all know our “fine weather friends” if I may steal the term from someone I know. We all have the friends that ask for our advice but shy away from us the minute we are a mess, the minute we make a mistake, or the minute we utter something inappropriate. I realize now more than ever before that I have many of those .
I called the few people I do know for real, and ironically they were all busy too. So here I was, with over 800 people I know and no one free to see me. I was alone and it really never felt worse.

Left to my own devices, I decided to go attend a lecture on positive thinking, God knows, how I needed it, and it was while I was in the cab on my way to the lecture, that I thought to myself about modern technology. I really started to wonder what modern technology really did for us, as I couldn’t really understand how it could be that we live in an age where we can reach anyone , anywhere at a click of a button, and yet be more further apart than ever before?

To me, it seems that modern technology had transformed many of our day to day understandings, including the understanding of alone and loneliness. Today, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Whatsapp, we could know a world of people and really feel lonely especially when those people are not around when we need them.

Feeling even worse than ever, this realization led me to asking the inevitable questions . It led me to ask how many people do we really know? How many people really know us ? More importantly, how many people care enough to know us?
Sure we can talk to so many people via sms, or online, or by phone, but how many people do we actually see, and how many people do we actually let into our lives? Ironically, I want to argue that social media had distanced us instead of making us grow closer. It allows people to stand on the doorstep of who we are, without going deep into our souls to meet us .

It allows us to call random people our friends knowing very well that they will disappear, the minute we are not in the best of moods, or the minute we do anything that reveals us as imperfect human beings, far from the polished perfect image we have created online.

Putting things into this perspective, I was no longer shocked by the fact that I know over 800 people, yet I couldn’t find one person to talk to when I was down. The simple truth is that out of these over 800 people one or two really knows me, and very few people want to.
After all, my Social Media Network (SMN) profiles will say that I like books, music, long walks, or travel, and I am sure everyone’s profile will list their hobbies and interests like mine. But, will any of our profiles say that we are scared to death of being hurt. Will they list any other facts that might be the not so flattering spices that make us unique humans ?

Will our profiles ever say that we bite our nails when we are nervous for example, or will they talk about the things that make us illogical, moody, neurotic, pathetic, but fun? Will they say, for example, that we are not thin people yet we pathetically order diet coke with a big mac meal, or that we can’t eat burgers and fries together and that we finish the fries first and then we have the sandwich. Will our profile list the painful break ups, the disappointments, the friends who hurt us, the awful things people said to us, the times people made us feel bad about ourselves, the people who stabbed us in the back? Will we list on our profiles, the times we failed at our job, or the times we felt on top of the world because someone made us feel that way, or the times we felt careless or happy, or we felt anything? The answer is they never will and they don’t have to, but then all those people who say they know us, like us, or are our friends don’t really exist in our lives, not because they don’t want to be but because we have closed ourselves up, and we have confined out existence to the few lines we write in an sms , on a profile, or in the few words we say in a phone conversation.

Those who want to be a part of our lives definitely make the effort, and we make the effort to let them in. but, how many are they?

It is because we have confined ourselves to this image that is so far from who we really are  that people  don’t want to be with us when we are not in the best of moods . We have idealized our existence and they can’t ever comprehend that we are people with mood swings, with stupid mistakes, and who are not perfect or half as perfect as we say we are. We may even do the same, where we stop talking to people even if we know they are good inside and that is just because they are not as perfect as they say they are. We are all guilty as charged .

So in fact social media may have had its good deeds to the spread of information, but it also enabled us to build walls around us, enclosing ourselves within a perfect image online, and a cloud where we can let people feel they know us, talk to us, and be with us, yet leave us the minute our normal imperfections come out in the open. 800 people, were all talking to me when I was bright and happy, but on the day I wasn’t bright nor happy, I realized that I couldn’t dare talk to a good portion of them, and those I could talk to, decided to give me a rain check until I am happy again.

Anyway I am good and happy now, and I am back to being the cheerful optimistic one, so to the 800 people I know, do feel free to talk to me now, I won’t bother you with the very issues that make me human, moody, illogical, nervous, annoying, and sometimes even neurotic. I will go back to my perfect online personality, you know the one over you 800 people on my contact lists like enough to call me a “friend:”

 

 

 

Where do we draw the line ?

Posted by dshalabi in 24. Dec, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

In our people centered Ammanite society, where we place a high premium on personal relationships, we tend to do everything in our power to ignore the bad and highlight the good in everyone we deal with. Whether we are dealing with a friend , family member, colleague, or even a spouse, we tend to give this person allowances to emotionally and even abusively “misbehave”. After all, it is not uncommon to have that one relative who we ignore, even though we know that they are hurtful. We usually do that not out of stupidity but rather out of the need to keep the peace. Similarly, we all have that one less intelligent friend, who we refuse to call ignorant in fear of hurting their feelings, and not to mention the acquaintance who lies and who we smile at because we can’t risk calling him/her a liar. We also all have come across the person with an awful temper, but whom we digest because we know he/she has a kind heart.

But, despite our abilities to tolerate, I do wonder why we go through the trouble? Are we all seriously so scared of ending up friendless, family-less, or lonely, that we choose to tolerate and understand the other without limits? On the one hand, tolerance is a good thing, it just means that people will also tolerate us when we boarder on the insane, irrational, and even bizarre, and that is if all the people we tolerate, tolerate us in return. On the downside it also keeps friendships that should have died, and relatives that should have walked out of our lives around much longer than needed.

So, is there a limit to our tolerance level? Do we ever get to the point where we have tolerated a little too many shortcoming in the people we know? And, if we are all walking around tolerating the world, where is the point where we are no longer merely tolerating someone’s shortcomings but rather engaging in an abusive or even toxic interaction? Where do we draw the line between tolerance and emotional abuse?

Of course we can all simply say that an interaction is abusive when it is no longer making us feel good about ourselves, because in the least selfish of terms, we would expect our acquaintances, family, and friends to tell us when we are being total idiots, but we would also want them to say something good to us when we are doing something right too. So, yes, we want to feel good about ourselves through the emotional mirrors others hold up for us, and that is only because we expect to make others feel good about themselves in return. So, do we draw trhe line at that point where the person we are dealing with has absolutely nothing good to say about us?

Within these definitions, I ask, is it really ok for our friends to call us when they are down, only to use their emotional state as an excuse to lose their temper at us, and insult us, or worse hurt us with their words?

It is a moral dilemma when you think about it, because if you are put in such a situation, you will find that on the one hand you want to be the supportive understanding friend but on the other hand you are really hurt by what the friend says to you in their moments of anger, especially if that friend shouted at you for “Not understanding them”, “Not being there for them”, “Not caring”, or worse “Being too shallow and too pathetic for their problem”.

So, what do you do in this situation? Would you still take on the role of the good friend and digest the insults, or would you walk away saying “ Listen I don’t know how to help you, and if there is anything I can do let me know”?

I have once walked away but I felt awful 30 minutes later. But, then again in another situation option one made me feel worse because the insults were getting too personal so that they attacked my beliefs, my intelligence, and my understanding of things. I learned the hard way that being in such a situation only promises a lose/lose outcome but then again which is the bigger loss, losing a friend because you walked away or losing yourself and self esteem in the insults, the shouting, and the hurt?

What happens when we let a person say terrible things to us, apologize, and then say more terrible things, and apologize yet again, are we not equally responsible for this damaging pattern we have built for the friendship, family member, or colleague?

It is kind of like allowing a boss to insult you once, twice, and three times, and that had happened to me many years ago where it was only on the fourth time that I told the boss “Listen keep your inferiority complex at home, and don’t shout at me-DON”T SHOUT AT ME” .That day yes I was internally satisfied by shutting the boss up, but this story has no heroic outcome on the career level . In fact I also got a warning because the boss was shocked at the response. She was shocked because I was the first employee ever to tell her that. However, had I done that the first time she dared to raise her voice, there wouldn’t have been a second, third, or fourth time, she would have gotten the point and she wouldn’t have found my comment insulting.
Relationships of any kind, friendship, family, work, or romance, turn abusive and toxic when we let them. When we let the other person cut us inside, and especially when it is done more than once, even walking away doesn’t feel great.

I am thinking about this issue because just this morning I lost a good friend of mine, because of the insults. We ended our friendship because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I said things that were terrible in response to even more terrible things that were said to me. The awful sms war ended with me asking my friend never to talk to me again and my friend blocking me off facebook. Of course, in our modern digital age the ultimate sign of war is the block button, the block button is the ultimate sign of victory for the abuser, as it gives him/her the chance to send you a hateful message you can’t even reply to, a message that sits in your inbox as a souvenir of the day the emotional war got out of hand.

The block, the finality of it, my last sms meant that I was freed from weeks of continued insults. But, if you are wondering if it feels good or not, I can tell you it doesn’t feel heroic, it doesn’t feel good, and I don’t feel great about it even though I requested it nor do I feel great about myself even.


The experience left me with many questions . It left me wondering, about those people who jump to point out what is bad in us, and if they were really ever our friends?
And when they block us after a fight so easily and with a click of button, were we ever friends to begin with? Isn’t a friendship broken a friendship that never started? Or, are our egos forcing us to engage in a who had the last word contest? Was I allowing the tolerance to boarder on the toxic? Shouldn’t I have walked away 3 weeks ago when my friend showered me with insults and I accepted the apology?

Or, should I have been more understanding, maybe even listened more than talked. If I did, then the situations wouldn’t get to the points of no return.

So once again I ask where do we draw the line between being more tolerant and engaging in a repetitive scenario of emotional abuse. Couldn’t we stop the insults and shut our mouths, stop our fingers from typing, and just let the other person be, a few seconds longer?

Where do you draw the line?
Where should we draw the line?

November 2012

The Beauty and the Brains

Posted by dshalabi in 26. Nov, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

The other day in a Toasmasters meeting one of the speakers asked the audience “Do you prefer to be exceptionally smart or exceptionally good looking?” specifying that they had to choose one or the other. One girl almost instantly said that she preferred being exceptionally beautiful, because beautiful people get more chances in life.

She said these words just when my thoughts were leaning towards choosing the option of being exceptionally smart. See, my reasoning was that if I were exceptionally smart I would have the brains to improve my looks and more importantly my brains would make me seem attractive to those who care to know me and find something good about me other than my looks. I figured those people will see me as being attractive too. After all, it has been scientifically proven that the human eye only needs ten minutes to become familiar with the sight in front of it. So, this means that even an exceptionally beautiful person will seem normal to the world after 10 minutes, and after these 10 minutes he/she must have more than the good looks to offer.

However putting my rational logic aside, I have to say the girl did raise an important issue. She did make me wonder Just how powerful is beauty as a door opener to society’s opportunities? Are we all secretly judgmental? Do we give beautiful people more chances based on their looks? As a more or less fine looking female, I can’t help but see that there is some truth in that.

After all, we have all secretly used the power of beauty or at least “decent looks” to our advantage at some point or another in our lives, and we are all guilty as charged. For example, if I wanted to get some tedious paper work at a bank, like applying for a loan, getting a credit card, etc, fast, I would consciously dress up for the occasion with the smart outfit, preferable an outfit that flatters my figure, the heels, and the makeup ,and I may even smile a lot to the guy behind the counter. I would probably even make an effort to be extremely friendly, and if he were of the more traditional type I would even play dumb just to make him feel important enough to serve me. We all do that, so let us own up to it.

Let’s admit that in a job interview we look our best just to impress. Similarly, a guy would wear a suit, flirt with the girl behind the counter and get the job done faster than he would if he were dressed in ripped jeans and a scruffy shirt. So, maybe we do need to put our idealism aside, and maybe we do need to face a world that judges books by their cover and us by our looks. The more presentable and attractive we look the more likely it is that the world would take us seriously.

Just think, how many times have we all heard a woman talk about her son’s fiancé, with the first words being she is very beautiful? Or if she wasn’t beautiful, she might apologetically say “She isn’t very beautiful but she is a very nice girl ”.

This woman would make the apology simply because she knows very well that the world will ask her or anyone who knows her how she agreed to marry her son off to a girl who isn’t attractive. “The boy is wonderful why should he settle for her, He can get so much better, better here only means prettier” would be the general comment repeated by her relatives . Similarly, a girl’s mom would have to apologize to the world if she allowed her daughter to marry someone who isn’t that handsome. She would even say things like “But he loves her so much, he is nice to her, and he is so generous”, because she knows too well that the world will judge.

Maybe these are the opportunities the girl in the meeting was talking about. Maybe it is true that prettier people will get dibs on the good job, the eligible bachelor or bachelorette, and they will even get their paper work done faster. So where does this leave the not so pretty people?

Before going into that, let us ask who are those not so pretty people? I think that the not so pretty people don’t exist, because in our modern world, everyone can look beautiful, and we would really have to make an effort to look ugly.

Thanks to the booming beauty industry, the choices are many. we can change hair color, skin color, wear makeup, diet, go for ring surgery if we don’t want to diet, and add extensions to our hair if you, and add hair plugs. We can permanently remove the need to wear glasses with laser surgery, wear ten inch heels to look taller, and if we want to go even more drastic and we can even go under the knife and change our whole features, remove wrinkles through Botox , the list is endless.

We know this because we have all improved our looks in some form or another. Girls will run during their lunch break to do their nails, and guys will buy the shirt that looks good on them even if the price tag is steep. We are all exposed to the hottest trends thanks to the technology boom, so if we don’t look beautiful at least we will look stylish.

So in terms of using beauty to get the opportunity, we can all improve our image according to how much we want the opportunity. But if we didn’t have brains , we won’t even know how to do that.

So yes our society is one that gives more opportunities to the better looking , as is our world. But, how will those exceptionally beautiful people keep the opportunity if they were not also smart, especially since today anyone and everyone can look beautiful?

On a more personal level if I will just choose beauty, I wonder how happy I would be with the idea of a guy talking to me just because I am beautiful, or a guy asking for my hand in marriage just because I am beautiful .Let’s face it, if that was the only reason for two people to unite, then that is some commitment we are tying ourselves to. I would then worry If I grew older and I stoped being beautiful, and what if I am not always beautiful now, because let’s face it we all have those days when we look terrible for no apparent reason, or we look tired, or if not, we just don’t feel like doing the hair, just like guys don’t always feel like shaving, Will this mean that my opportunity lost?

Sure exceptional beauty will give me more opportunities in our shallow societies and worlds, but how do we keep these opportunities? So in the end, I decided to stick by my choice, and I thought I would choose being exceptionally smart anyday, because if I am smart I can make myself beautiful to respond to society’s shallow judgments. I will get those opportunities, and then I will make the best use of these opportunities because I am smart enough to keep them.

However, in our real life we can’t be exceptionally anything, so a happy combination of both would be ideal.

But, Just out of curiosity if you had to choose between one or the other, what would you choose?

Modern Class System

Posted by dshalabi in 23. Nov, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amm

The other day, me and a friend of mine went for a quick bite during our lunch break. The aim was really to go somewhere close to our places of work, have a sandwich chit-chat then leave. Little did I know that that simple lunch break will really get me to think too deeply about my life. It all started when I overheard a conversation by two women sitting at the table behind us at the restaurant . Both woman were not much older than us. They looked as if they were in their late thirties or early forties. However, they were dressed in tailored pants ,a shirt, and a headscarf each, with kids at their sides, while we my friend and I were dressed in jeans.
Throughout the whole meal one of them couldn’t stop talking about her maid, and how her maid was giving her problems, while the other woman was busy telling her kids to be quiet while simultaneously trying to also give advice to her friend on how she should solve her maid related issues. Her advice mainly revolved around being mean to the maid , and treating her like dirt, showing her who is boss, and being extra careful about the husband and the romance that may fire up between him and the maid. The woman also told her friend to lock her up while she was at work, and also not to give her a mobile phone, and finally to beware of the Egyptian guy in their building. “You have to be smart’ she said and apparently, according to her smart meant treating other people like slaves.

The funny thing about all this was, that I wasn’t hearing this conversation for the first time , as such gems of wisdom are often repeated time and time again by married women of all ages. I don’t know what it is exactly, but it is like the minute these women sign the marriage papers they instantly switch the channels of their interests even faster than one can switch the channels of a remote control. Even if they had jobs, like the two ladies in the restaurant, the span of their interests doesn’t go beyond the maid, keeping the husband, hating the mother in law, hating the daughter in law, and nurturing the conspiracy theory they have formed against the in laws who are too jealous of the marriage.

I heard so many terrible things about the mother in law and in laws by so many married women that I once even found myself asking “Why couldn’t these women just be friends with the in-laws”, needless to say that all married woman I asked that question to wrote me off immediately as a freak.
Many a time I have reunited with girls I used to know , girls I used to actually enjoy hanging out with , way back when we were in college, in our first job, or in some place in our pasts when we were all single. However, and after these girls’ marriages, I always found myself experiencing the same scenario repeating itself in our reunions. We would usually agree to meet after years of separation, separation of course brought on by their wedding planning, the engagement parties, and their kids, and we would realize then and there that we share nothing in common anymore. They would sit and talk about their husbands, lives, and maids, and I would sit silently looking at the people around me, simply because I have no experiences related to their interests to share.

That in itself is fine, after all, we don’t need to be a carbon copies of our friends, but yet in this society there are a few underlying connotations often stereotyping a girl who is still single within a group of married girlfriends, connotations that your now married friends would reflect clearly on you, through the events they plan and fail to invite you to, through the failure to ask you anything about your life, and through their lack of respect for your priorities in life. There is also the inevitable pathetic look of pity on their faces the minute you talk about your work, your colleagues at work, or your latest outing, since they believe that you are wasting your life , or if not there is the look of “when are you going to become one of us”, and more importantly there is the look of “your life isn’t important because you don’t have real issues like us” On a personal level I can tell you that not once in any of these reunions did any of my female married friends stop and ask me what I was doing in my life, instead there is the inevitable, you should really grow up and have real responsibilities like us, or there is the “You won’t understand us or what we are talking about” preaching tone in their voices , and so it is inevitable, the relationship between the singles and married would never ever be one based on equality. The married view the singles as pathetic and silly and the singles view the married as people self-absorbed in themselves and their homes.
Having said that, I really can’t help but see our society’s women split into a class system, a system not brought on by education or financial status, or background, but rather by marriage or singleton. Within this class system women who are married often stick together since they talk about house, home, kids, and maids, and those of us who are single, are secretly seen by them as outsiders, or silly people who have no “real” lives, because you know our jobs, are not real responsibilities, and our careers are not important, and we are just silly people who go from one café to another to talk about stupid things with our other stupid single friends, and so it is only natural that single people mostly have single friends and married people mostly have married friends.
This is all fine and good when we are all young as young people are all single, or at least most of the people you now are single when you are young, but as we get older those of us who remain single, in our thirties are at a disadvantage, because the number of single people around us and old enough to understand us decreases and the number of married people who delete us from their lives increases. So, what really is the thirty something single girl in Jordan looking at really in terms of social life, companionship, friendship or dare I say the taboo word, romance?

With this troubling thought in my head, I started checking the contacts on my mobile, because whether we like it or not, our mobile contact lists, recent calls, and sms records are a good reflection of who we are talking to regularly, and who we talk to, hang out, and communicate with is a good reflection of who we really are.
I realized a few shocking facts from this somewhat simple straight forward exercise, I realized that a good number of the people I associate with these days are in fact younger than me, not because I am intellectually challenged but they are the single people like me who are not busy with the maid, the husband, and the kids. These people who are younger than me see me often as the older, wiser, and smarter person, not because I am but because I have more life experience and I do give them good advice. So, if I am giving twenty something’s advice, who do I turn to for advice? My twenty something friends are a lot of fun, their outings are spontaneous, and with them I can just laugh about pointless things without worrying about what the world will think. They think I even look young coz I act young around them, but despite all that I do get the need to be an adult sometimes, and this where I should have a good number of friends around my age.

However inreality I don’t, my thirty something friends are few, because you know the number of single people who didn’t throw you out of their life and are close to your age are limited in general and the number of females who haven’t married by their thirties  is really limited,especially since most of them go into panic mode and marry anyone who proposesto them by the age of 29. So, as a single thirty something, you are not really bound to find many people in that age group as , and a few people within thatgroup , especially females, spend too much of their time crying about the fact that they are not married. They would sit and complain and then they would bring
you down , making you wonder too much about your life too.

Then, there are the forty something singles, these are too mature for you and they want to just go and dine in fine restaurants and talk about the economy if they are single or their bad experiences if they are divorced. These view people like me, thirty something, singles in the same way thirty something’s view twenty something’s and they hop to give advice.

So the bad news for a thirty something single girl is that she ends up having a social life that involves very few people she can relate to. Her existence revolves around a population that feels she is either pathetic, too young by those older than her, and too experienced by those younger than her, and a few people who have a similar life to her.
So are the single thirty somethings the outcasts of society or the untouchable class of the married people. Where, does a single thirty something girl fit in Jordan;s social make up? Of course many of us want tobelieve that age is just a number and in an age where most people are educated or with at least some schooling, it is ok to communicate with people of all ages and backgrounds, but is it really so? does this logic really work within, a society that divides us between married and single where the married people see the singles as outcasts and the singles can’t find common ground with the married  ?

Note I do have a few good friends who are married and close to my age and who are in my opinion wonderful people, but out of all the married couples I know they are a minority.

The Real Meaning Behind the Words

Posted by dshalabi in 19. Nov, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

If we just listen to the phrases that are so wide spread in our society, we would realize that a lot of them are fake insinuations where the speaker means something completely different to what is said.
For example:

1: You ask the cab driver how much you owe and he says , “This time it is on me”. and you know and he knows that the fare is not on him . You are also aware that if you were to walk out and say thanks he would tell you to come back and pay, and you will be lucky if he doesn’t tell you a lot of other things you are better off not hearing.
2: And, if walk into a house where you are invited to lunch and you hear everyone say to the host, “You really shouldn’t have bothered yourself with all this food, we are here only to see you. “ Be sure that the host knows and you know that at least five invitees will leave the house saying how stingy she is if she were to serve the guests a cup of coffee only.
3: If you are wearing something new and the people seeing you say, your outfit is nice , but of course everything you wear is nice coz you are beautiful. You will say please take it, or your eyes are the ones that are beautiful. Now you know and they know you are not strikingly beautiful to wear things that magically become pretty, and you know and they know that you are not giving the new item of clothing away as they will not take it.
4: A guy would tell a girl after disappearing for over 4 month, “I was too busy to contact you but I was always thinking about you. “ , yet he probably knows that the girl knows he wasn’t really thinking about her. He probably was thinking about a lot of other people and then he got bored so he decided to call her again. Or he was lying in a ditch somewhere with no form of communication to call her for over a month.
5: A girl would tell a guy “You are the only guy I ever spoke to”, and he knows and she knows he knows that this is not true. She must have at least had one crush before him.
6: You ring someone and they tell you “I was just about to call you” and you can’t help but think “Ya right!”
7: In most shops you walk into you are always miraculously the first person to walk in and the buyer begs you to buy without a discount. You probably know and he knows that you know this is not true. He just doesn’t want you to bargain.
8: A girl sends a guy an sms and he replies three weeks later saying that he did not see the sms with an apology. The girl knows it isn’t true because the sms is sitting there on the screen .A guy can get the same from a girl too.
9: A girl tells a guy “It isn’t you it’s me, I need to figure out my life, and this only means it is you but I am too chicken to say so. “ a guy can do the same thing to a girl.
10:The words I will call you, often means no way in hell will I ever call you unless I am so board and I ran out of other people to call.
11: And if a colleague who isn’t your friend calls to say I just wanted to ask about you. Don’t be shocked what he/she really wants to say is I am embarrassed to ask you for another favor.
12: The total stranger asking a girl after looking at her and studying every detail in her body, what should I call you, “Mother of whom” (Um esh) doesn’t care to know the name of her son, he just wants to know if she is married or single.
13: “Madam” means you don’t look like a little girl anymore.
14: A guy tells a girl “You are just like my sister” so he probably means he doesn’t I find her attractive.
15: A guy tells a girl or a girl tells a guy you are my best best best friend (With one more “best” added every month to the phrase) and this means yes I call you every day we go out we have a good time but I am not sure if I can have deep feelings for you , yet I don’t want you to leave my life because I may miss you.
16: A guy tells girl I like you but I need to figure things out while what he really means is , I need to see all my other options and do a feasibility study on my feelings and where you fit into my emotional life, before I decide and yet I want you to wait for me while I make that major decision .
17: I forgot to do that thing you asked me for, means you are not significant enough for me to remember anything to do with you.
18: I am trying to find myself, means I don’t know what the hell I want said in a more philosophical way that sounds less pathetic.
19: I can’t make it something came up, means I can’t make it something more important than you came up. (Unless a real justification came with the word “Something”)
20: If you feel the person in front of you is honest and decent don’t believe a word I say, enjoy their company and believe them.

This is the cold ugly truth 80% of the time as the world does have a few honest people left, just don’t be stupid and don’t be deluded by what most people say .

Journey Back from Rock Bottom

Posted by dshalabi in 19. Nov, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

Between Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, I hit every shade of negativity any sane person can experience in the stretch of 12 hours. I went from doubtful, to skeptical, to angry, to disappointed, with the grand finale being my plunge into the phase of rock bottom on Saturday. That dreaded morning, I woke up feeling, as low can be.

I was angry, I was doubtful of myself , I felt deluded. I was in a place I hate being in, a place I often shield under layers sarcasm, bad attitude, and the impeccable ability to joke and make fun of myself or any situation.

More importantly I was annoyed at myself for feeling this way . The more pressing truth was, that I just didn’t have time to be at rock bottom, and I certainly didn’t have time to linger there. I had to snap out of it and get ready to go to Gaza Camp for our weekly volunteering activity. If I didn’t go that week, I just knew that the whole activity won’t happen and no one will go. The clock was ticking against my feelings regarding anyone or anything, and even if the reason I was feeling low was the Gaza Camp project itself, I had to get act my together and move on.

So, like a big girl , I numbed my negativity and I almost mechanically showered, put on my clothes, put the clothes we got as donations (For Gaza Camp) in bags, got a cab, and I went to meet the one volunteer out of a team of nine who didn’t cancel on me.

I am usually a cheerful person, and I don’t usually feel this negative I just learned a long time ago, not to let my issues affect the work that needs to be done.

This time however things were different. My plunge into darkness, all started on the Friday evening before the dreaded day when the first volunteer canceled on me. That volunteer, whom I was depending on, didn’t only cancel at a time too late for me to find a replacement but she also told me that I should cancel the event because she is scared. I asked her what she was scared of and she replied she was scared of what is happening in the country.

Trying to knock some sense into her, I replied “Sweetie if we hear that the road to Jerash is not safe for any reason, trust me we will not go”. Little did she know that I was going to be the first person to cancel the event if I felt any of the volunteers will not be safe. After all, the last thing I needed on my hands was a bunch of angry parents blaming me personally for risking the lives of their kids, even if their kids are adults over the age of 18.

She insisted and she canceled anyway due to her “fear’. At that point, I was angry but I wasn’t hopeless, I had eight more people who were willing to go, and eight was still a good number I thought.

But apparently , I thought too soon, because soon after that cancelation, others started pouring in. Two people canceled because they felt bad about what was happening in Gaza and two more canceled because they were scared of what is happening in Jordan, another volunteer got sick, while two more didn’t bother themselves to tell me if they are or are not coming despite my sms’s.

On this note, I must tell you that one of my pet- peeves is the lack of response to an sms, and I am not saying I get pissed off at any sms not replied to, but it does annoy me when an sms containing a distinct question or a clear request commanding a response of some sort is blatantly ignored, it just makes me feel too insignificant.

I think in this case, the two fabulous volunteers just believed that I had all the time in the world to sit and wait for them in front of JU the next day, or maybe I was sending them an sms asking for confirmations in invisible font, maybe they replied to me in invisible font, or maybe I sent out the message and they assumed I was flirting with them or kidding or I just felt like typing please confirm to me for fun, or maybe they are both in a coma lying in a ditch somewhere with all ten fingers paralyzed so that they are genuinely unable to confirm, not sure really which one it was, but anyway I am still waiting for their confirmation until now , even though both of them are very active all day on Facebook.

So down to one volunteer , 3 classes, a male class with no male volunteers, I was now hitting pure negativity . I was at that phase where my verbal diarrhea was on the rise and I was just capable of being mean and nasty so I decided to forget it all in the fear of making some unfixable damages to my relationships, after all we do live in a society where people remember your mean response before remembering that their actions may have pissed you off driving you to the mean response . So as a contingency plan, I switched off my phone and just went to bed.

But that night I didn’t sleep, I kept thinking and pondering the whole events of the day and the year that passed. I couldn’t help but wonder how people could say words they don’t really mean, or how they can use an excuse like their sadness about Gaza to not go to a volunteering activity for the refugees of Gaza. Did the people canceling because of Gaza stop for one second and consider how pathetic they sound?

If they had told me they didn’t feel like going, they would have at least earned my respect for their honesty, as for the people who were scared about what is happening in Jordan, I was wondering if they are scared to go to Jerash but not scared to go to City Mall, the cinema, or to eat out in restaurants ? Was Jerash the place where fear is multiplied ?

And, if those people not going are deemed people with big souls and big hearts, was there this underlying assumption that I didn’t care about what is happening ? Or, was I was this heartless person who was asking people to risk their lives in bad times to do something they committed to ? Was I preventing them from feeling for Gaza, Jordan, or whatever they are feeling for?

It was then that I wondered what those people opting to sit at home were really contributing to anything in the community, was their contribution to Gaza made in the form of merely switching from one news channel to the next?

Or were they contribution to Gaza made from the comfort of their own homes by constantly updating their Facebook status? Were they contributing to Jordan by striking out their day to day lives ? What was their contribution?

Was their addition to any cause the fact that they knew every detail about everything and they re-told it as Facebook and Twitter vomit that doesn’t add or change the situation ?
You see, I am all for people who at least give us one call to action in their social media post. For example, one person asked us to pray for Gaza and I respected that somewhat coz at least there was something in it, another asked us to share a video about the truth on Israel, and I respected that too, a third told us to spread the truth but what about the rest who just repeat what we already know or who are not original enough to post their own opinion even but rather copy the opinions of others? Was that the pressing issue they wanted to sit at home for?

Does this make those of us who actually are out of the house, heartless creeps lacking in nationalism or patriotism, or commitment to our countries ? I figure the answer is no, because it is really easy to play the role of giving a damn.

Thankfully the social media gave birth to a new form of propaganda, social propaganda, intellectual propaganda where people today can copy each other’s posts and appear far deeper than they really are, and that is exactly why people can use any cause to stop them from doing anything useful. People can now use their pages to be anything they want to be, political analysts, poets, philosophers, stand up comedians, broken hearted romantics, you name it.

They can spend hours and hours modeling a personality until they forget who they really are. Companies make money out of it, I would know, because I work in PR. So, yes people can say they care about a cause and not do anything about it because sitting on Facebook and twitter isn’t doing anything about anything.

But, how many of us actually do have something useful to say online . Aren’t many of us seeking publicity by re-posting the death and misfortunes of others, aren’t many of us simply seeking the secret thrill of a like or a comment or a share or a tag just to feel popular?

I am sorry but I just can’t think of a person caring for Gaza and not caring for their commitment to help others from Gaza, and I can’t think of anyone worried about their country and yet too lazy to do anything for it, the two don’t work together.
However this analogy didn’t make me feel any better, because I realized that if this project has ever taught me anything it had taught me how people use their words cheaply and stupidly. From day one, the Gaza Camp English Teaching project had been founded on one disappointment after the next.

With this realization, my thoughts then started becoming even more negative, I started asking myself “Why should I even give a damn about this project moving forward if only a handful of committed volunteers do. After all, the game will be over anyway if we don’t get funding soon, as we won’t even have the cost of transportation to go every week, and even as I write this the guy running the van we go with decided to hike up our transportation fees, which we can’t say anything to since the fuel prices went up. Regardless of this fact, no one is knocking on doors or trying to get funds so why should I care?”

I wondered then why I got into this issue anyway. It wasn’t like I woke up a year and a half ago with a long term vision to help refugees in Gaza camp nor was it on my agenda to be the Mother Teresa for the future with a mandate to educate the masses, nor did I have dreams to touch lives. It was just something I was thrown into and here it is keeping me up at night .

I was a normal girl living my normal life, until I saw a pathetic FB message from the pathetic people of Junior Chamber International (JCI) Jordan saying they want to go for one Saturday to teach English at Gaza Camp. Back then, my big mouth or big fingers in that case made me type the reply, “What the hell are you going to achieve from one day? Or do you have some evil strategy to make people there smell the good life right before you leave them to their misery “

It was then that I without knowing it had tied myself to this project. I had made the success or failure of this project my problem from that day on words, and If I count the number of people I have fought with for this project to work, I would have a big hate list, but on the upside I met a lot of wonderful people too and some are great helpers in all this or partners even.

Then, the next day while me and that one volunteer were on our way the lady in charge at the camp called me and said your students are waiting where are you. It was then that I realized that , if we can get students to come to our class at their own free will and without us forcing them to, and if they still are feeling there is value in what we were doing, then we must be doing something right. That Saturday, the girls and the guys learned how to write their CVs and since we had no male volunteers to teach the young men, the guys in the camp had their first mixed class. Most of them were fine with it but two or three left because they couldn’t be with women in the same class, and we will hear the complaints for sure about our lack of ethics and consideration for the culture next week, but oh well !

I learned to accept the fact that unfortunately in our society talk is cheap, you get the people who show up once or twice and then they disappear. You get the people who come and tell you they want to change the whole method of teaching and they want to buy books, and that they want to do great activities, and then you never see them again. You get others who give up , and you also meet the more entertaining grown MEN who feel they are not safe in a refugee camp. They have every right to not be, coz you know, we cross the lake of crocodiles and we fight the fire breathing dragon, and we communicate with the aliens and fight the terrorists before we get to class (kidding) but really that had to be the most entertaining excuse created by people who still believe in a class sustem in the year 2012. And, let us not forget those who come once or twice put a few pictures on Facebook and then disappear. But, fortunately you also get others who are committed but they leave you for a temporary period and you know very well that they will return when they can, and others who can’t come because they work on Saturday but they do make it a point to help in funding , planning, and any activity we do on a Friday, and you get the volunteers you can count on 95% of the time. After all, I met a lot of different types of people working on this project, and I guess I hit rock bottom only because of my high expectations in people.

Soon enough , I became my normal self again . After all, I decided not to expect too much and not to believe too much. You can call it cynicism, I call it survival in the age of lack of belief. I decided it is really easier to laugh at the pathetic things people say both online and offline instead of keeping myself up at night wondering why and how people can tell lies.

Your Time Is Up! (An invitation to people to mind their words)

Posted by dshalabi in 09. Nov, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

It was on the evening of Saturday January 2nd 2006 at exactly 5:00 pm that I last felt good about the words “Time is up”. Back then, I was sitting for my MBA (Masters of Business Administration) comprehensive exam and I remember very well how hearing these words made me feel great. I felt then and there that I wanted to celebrate three things. The first thing I wanted to celebrate was the fact that I was pretty sure I passed. I wasn’t over confident that I Aced the whole thing but I had enough in there to get the degree. I also wanted to celebrate the fact that this was going to be the last exam I take in my life to contain numbers, mathematics, accounting, or anything of the type, and the third was the fact that I was finally going to live my life free of deadlines, exams, research papers, professors or anything like that, or so I thought.

I was really ready to live, and I was even excited about the new, better paying job I was going to start the very next day. You see, back then I left a bad paying job after inconceivable issues with the boss a week before the exam and I made a deal with the reputable agency I was moving to, to start work right after my comprehensive exam. I felt lucky, it just seemed like the whole world was at my finger tips. After all, I was a smart, not bad looking, holder of a master’s degree and I had a fabulous job waiting for me, what more reason is there to celebrate?

That was then, for now six years later, I realize that I got it all wrong. January 2nd 2006 was not ever going to be the last time I was going to stress about a deadline, a professor , or an exam. What I didn’t know back then was that society throws at us deadlines, and its people mark our performance all the time, in the same way that our professors used to mark our term papers. People often tell us our time is up if we do not fulfill certain goals at a certain time. Only now, when someone tells you “time is up” on your life it doesn’t feel as good as it felt when the professor said time is up on an exam.

You see, these thoughts are coming to me now because, my birthday is in a few days, and the echoes of the society’s statements “your time is up” are resonating in my head. They are even screaming louder than ever, especially since just yesterday a woman I hardly knew told me, uninvited of course, that I am old and that when she was my age she had three kids. I assure you that I wasn’t waiting for this statement. In fact, I was minding my own business and I sure didn’t ask her to put a mark on my life, but never the less, she decided to grade me, marking my life performance obviously with an “F”, becuase I missed out on the “kids” section of the exam.

Regardless of what I feel and regardless of my age, in a few days I am supposed to have officially grown up. I am at that age, where society, our everlasting examination board, assumes that I have to have answered all the questions, filled in all the blanks, and circled all the correct multiple choice answers. According to our society, I should have it together.
But, looking at my life at this point, I can tell society in full confidence , to spare itself the trouble of the analogy or the evaluation, I simply don’t have anything together at all because within its rigid guidelines I am not anything the people of my age “should” be..

However I repeat that this is only in society’s standards, because in my personal standards I feel I have done pretty good for myself. It is only when society hits me in the face with its standards , standards of standards, and standards of standards of the standards, that I am left to question myself, simply because I am not even close to having it together or being anything an “A” student of society should be.

I am a misfit, according to this woman who hardly knows me, because I don’t have three kids like her , or any kids for that matter. Her words in themselves are a connotation that I didn’t “make it” within time .

However, if I were left to my own better judgment to live instead of analyze and if I were not forced to highlight what I didn’t do, I would not be confused at all by how good or bad I have done in life. I am only left to doubt myself by none other than the same society that judges us all the time. I am confused by a society that wants to make me believe that my so close birthday is a day to highlight my failures as opposed to my success, to talk about what I didn’t do yet as opposed to what I did do, even if the things I didn’t do were replaced by experiences that very few people have experienced or goals very few people have achieved. It is like I didn’t pass the society’s standardized exam and instead I went and answered the wrong essay question even if I answered it right.

Is this really what one’s birthday is supposed to be for? Are the few days before our birthdays supposed to be dedicated to people who wish to say awful pointless phrases to us that start with “you should have”, “you could have”, ‘you ought to”, alongside statements that command us to “lower our expectations”, ”spend less time on work”, “care about our appearance”, and people who especially tell girls like me to “find a husband otherwise they will be left to die alone”. Is society working hard to ensures that we negate whatever self esteem we have left with more damaging statements like “you shouldn’t think you are special”, “The world is full of younger and better people than you”, “ stop dreaming and be realistic” , “grow up”, “Don’t act as if you are important, you are not” simply because a few days before the dreaded birthday it wakes up to the fact that we are turning a year olde?

Is society’s plan actually to ensure that by the time the birthday comes we, the people who failed its delaine, hate ourselves enough to feel that we don’t want to celebrate anything? Or better yet we don’t only want to not celebrate but we also want to sit at home and eat a box of chocolate with ourselves while hating every second of our existence?

It is as if we come to life and people around us instantly start to set this plan for us , a plan in which we should achieve certain things at certain points in our lives, but is it really that way? If I were to go by this analogy, an analogy every year, every eid, and every occasion, someone has to just point out to me , I can honestly tell you that I failed , not in the eyes of myself because I don’t believe I am a failure or I refuse to believe I am a failure ,and more importantly I just don’t believe that anyone on this earth can be all bad, all failure, or all misfit, but I have definitely and flashing failed in the eyes of our society, and the eyes of the women who tell me that at my age they had kids, and ten years before they got married, women who forget that I can tell them that at my age they didn’t have a good job, a masters degree, a good group of friends, and a life that doesn’t revolve around babies.

I am sure that life isn’t black or white and there are many gray shades in the middle. I am sure that nothing in life is a now or never situation, because I just don’t want to live in a world where I need to put a deadline on happiness, love, career, marriage, or any goal I want to achieve. That is pressure in itself , pressure from a society that wants us to put a time limit and expiry date on the things that define our happiness, a society that wants us to believe that if we miss the deadline we blew any chance we have of a good life.

You see, every single occasion that gathers a bunch of family members or acquaintances together, people tend to take little or no interest in the things we did achieve in life, instead they focus on the things we didn’t achieve , the boxes we didn’t tick, and the things other people our age did.

As a girl, my career success means nothing to many, my education seems like an obstacle to lots even a mistake I may have wasted myself and my time with, and the fact that I am still single, oh my God, what a social catastrophe that is , not in my eyes but in the eyes of a society that seems to blame us for things that are beyond our control, a society that contains men and women who say even more ridiculous comments like “You should make yourself more available” or who come to you right before the dreaded birthday and say “You do realize you are not young and if you don’t get this done this year you can forget the whole idea”.

My God let us be even more damaging to the self esteem, let us make sure that the birthday girl hates her birthday enough so that she doesn’t want to utter her age to anyone.

To society, every birthday is a milestone a time to look at what we did and didn’t do, and if we were left to our own devices and our own judgment, I hardly think that anyone can deem themselves a total failure. But in the eyes of those people who think life is run by a pre-set plan, I don’t have reason to celebrate simply because I am at least 10 years behind on the timeframe society has set for me. On this occasion, another wonderful woman come to me a few weeks ago during eid and said “You wasted your time on your work and your education when are you going to have your kids, time is running out”, as if life were an exam paper we need to finish before the hour was up and I spent too long on the essay question. This old woman said this statement to me and I instantly visualized a clock and someone saying time is up put down your pens you didn’t fill in the whole exam paper so you got an “F” on life.

So, obviously society is giving me a bad review, but what about the review I give to myself? What about the review that goes beyond the damaging comments of a society that says I am behind on the schedule? At the end of the day, even if I filled all the boxes of society and I did stick to society’s timeline, have I guaranteed a sure win/win way to being happy?

Believe me, filling in society’s boxes of marriage and kids isn’t rocket science. I easily could have done the mommy thing and wife thing by simply failing university, not getting an MBA degree and marrying at 18 to start making babies at 19. I even could have done the wife thing, simply by going to university and then instantly starting to hunt for a husband, or I could have done it by going for the arranged marriage, sitting in the far corner of a room while my parents and the guys parents watch from a far as me and him, two total strangers, both decide to marry each other and play house while hardly knowing anything about the other or caring to know each other for that matter.

By doing so ,I would pass society’s review. Then, no old woman would come to me and say that I didn’t do the things I was supposed to. No one would tell me I wasted my time, but I would always wonder about the review I give myself. At the end of the day, isn’t the review we give ourselves, the most important one we have to care about? Isn’t the relationship we have with ourselves, our most important relationship in life? And, isn’t the exam of our lives not the life society thinks we should live, the most important exam for us to pass?

So after long pondering and consideration, I am thinking, damn society, and its timeline, its exam, and its opinions, and to old women and men who think I am behind on the schedule I ask how many marks do they get for manners, pre-judgment, assumptions, and eloquence in speaking. Don’t these people get marks knocked off their society’s exam for hurting others ? Or , are the subjects of good manners, consideration, and class, not on their syllabus of modern society and human interaction?

Yes, it is my birthday in a few days , and the social examination board of society will just have to get over it, because I am not a second wiser I am only a year older, and if that makes me a social failure so be it , after all not everyone should be an A student of sooiety right?

And, the coolest never got straight A’s :)

Get a Room !

Posted by dshalabi in 05. Nov, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

After a long day of work, a day in which I virtually had no time to eat, I and a friend of mine decided to stop by a place in Abdoun for a quick bite. The food was great. After all, sitting down for a meal after hours of hunger is a joy in itself and when you top that off with good conversation, you are simply ticking all the boxes for a good evening. Despite all the positives, there was, however, one thing, that kind of ruined the mood for me.

You see, while I was having my salad, I saw two people I really didn’t want to see. , but there they were, sitting right in my face, doing their thing. Their thing was not something I wanted to see as a side dish to my dinner. They were none other than the man and woman playing the role of the bright, explicit “We are so in love couple”.

I am sure you have all encountered this type of couple in a public place at one time or other, you know, the type who think their love for one another can only be shown through the public display of affection. In my case they we were sitting right at the table next to us.

The “we are so in love couple” were two adults who really couldn’t keep their hands off each other for the whole meal. I even thought they may be confused as to what exactly they should use their mouths for, because at that point in time they were not using them for eating or talking.
Believe me , me and my friend had no intention to look at them, but they were being so “affectionate” that we had no other option but to look. What started as the girl feeding the guy evolved into the girl kissing the guy, and then, well, I will leave the rest to your imagination.

At that point, I didn’t know where exactly to look, and so I turned to my friend and I jokingly said “Can’t they just get a room or are they so in love that they really can’t keep their hands off each other until they reach their room?” We laughed at my remark and it was then that I realized that the love birds heard me , as they both looked at me with utter disgust, assuming that I was saying something extremely rude.

At this point, I couldn’t help but wonder who here was the rude party? Was it me, with my verbal diarrhea, and my need to say something, or was it this couple with their need to show the world that they are physical?

You see, this couple can only enjoy one of four arrangements. They could either be dating and if they were dating, they obviously must have gotten so comfortable with one another to be that physical; They must have been alone at least once to be ok with doing the love show in public. Or if not, they may be engaged and again they must have spent time alone to be comfortable enough to be that touchy feely with one another, or they could be married which means they obviously have a house that grants them enough space to do their love thing in private. Or, they could be another variation of the man and woman relationship that is beyond friendship and beyond the bounds of taboos, and if they were in that state of cheap love, then my comment shouldn’t bother them at all.

In all cases, I figure that if my commenting bothers them, then they should do their thing in private. Fortunately, I hear that Jordan is full of hotels where one can just “Get a Room”, where he/she can do their thing in private,. The “We are so in love” couples should consider this option just so that they won’t have to deal with rude people like me commenting.

I don’t know why I commented and I may have been wrong to comment, but it was right there in my face, and maybe it was out of my nervousness of not knowing where to look that I said something as awful as “They should really get a room”.

So the question here is this, where exactly do we draw the lines of personal freedom? Are we really just free to do whatever we want, in public, and not expect anyone to talk? I am an advocate of free choices, and I am not too closed minded to understand that in theory we are free to be as “affectionate;’ and physical as we want to be in our relationships, and that any adult
male and female interacting with each other whether under the bounds of friendship, relationship, engagement, marriage, or acquaintance, are free to write their own rules as to where the relationship begins and ends. But, if this were the case, and we are free then aren’t other people free to comment on the things they see us do?

Am I, as a person sitting in the restaurant not free to form an opinion about what is happening right in front of me,? After all, I wasn’t asking for much that day, . I was simply asking for a good meal without it being X-rated or PG 13. So, I may not believe I am rude for making the mean wise crack. It was pure reflex and nothing I plan to apologize for, in case advocates of free choice are wondering or saying as they read this that I should.

This isn’t the first incident of its kind to happen in Jordan. Once I and a group of volunteers and friends went to a coffee shop to work together on organizing an event and there in our face was a couple who got upset about our presence. We were 3 girls 2 guys at the time, and one of the guys we were with ended up telling them “We are so sorry to bother you” sarcastically, . Similarly, I was leaving my office last summer , only to see two men making out in front of me in the street . I couldn’t help but look in shock, when one of them turned to me and said, “We are Gay and Proud, what the hell is your problem”. In my shock I said “No…. no problem at all, as I turned to a far direction to find a cab”

I don’t get why people do that. Is it that a relationship is such a plus that they feel they have to flaunt it to the world, or is it a long awaited prize to be able to make out with someone in public. Maybe it is me, only me being a discreet person, thinking it is pathetic to do that. Or maybe I am so old fashioned,to believe that whatever happens between two people is private, let alone the things that happen between two people in a relationship.

I have to clearly state here that I have nothing against two people loving each other. In fact I think it is a good thing, but aren’t those two people  in fact degrading whatever it is they share? Are they not making it cheap, a thing not to be taken seriously, and a thing open to rude people like me to talk about because they can’t keep their hands off each other in public ?

Maybe they are the ones opening themselves up to people who just can’t keep their mouths shut about having it in their face at dinner.

So I ask once again, am I rude? You tell me !

Note
The incidents in this piece are all true, yes two people were making out in a restaurant, in a café, and yes two gay men were making out in the street. However some other details (such as locations, and the things said) have been altered slightly in respect of people’s privacy

October 2012

The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side or Is It?

Posted by dshalabi in 03. Oct, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

Yesterday evening while sitting in a Café in Western Amman, waiting for a friend of mine I was meeting for coffee, I couldn’t help but over hear two girls complaining vigorously about this city and how its shops don’t always have the best clothes. One girl said “I must shop in Dubai since I never find what I want here” the other one said “Ya, we have to go before winter starts” , “I wish Amman was like Dubai” the first girl said. The second one replied “I really want to live in Dubai in a house overlooking the sea,” she paused for a minute and said Amman, how can you even compare Amman to Dubai”. Realizing that I was blatantly ease-dropping I stuck my nose in a book while experiencing a severe case of Déjà vu

I realized I heard this conversation many times before It simply is really interesting how you are sure to find at least one person in any gathering who is deeply upset about his/her life in Amman. This person is sure to tell you how frustrating the shops are in this city since they don’t always hold the latest trends, or how terrible life is because he/she can’t afford to go out more than once a week, or how annoying the salary is because it doesn’t enable him/her to change mobiles as frequently as he/she takes a shower. Maybe, these are all valid reasons to make one’s life a total misery in Amman , don’t you think ? I mean the frequency at which we hear such reasoning has to make us wonder if we are missing the validity of this all.

For a growing culture that makes people’s identities the product of their car, their clothes, and their mobile, I guess then Amman is a horrible place to live in, and yes if our goals in life are to always carry the latest and greatest of everything in global brand stores then yes, we should complain that Amman sucks.
Along with the person who is complaining about Amman, you are also sure to find another person in that same group who will look at you with dreamy eyes and say “I wish I lived in Dubai”. within our fabulous commercial culture, “Dubai” these days, and seems to be the equivalent to the Ginny who appeared out of the magic lamp . It is the place where dreams all come true, or so it seems to those people.
The Dubai lover would tell you, “Dubai has the best malls”, “Dubai has a beach”, “Dubai has a nightlife”, while forgetting to mention that “Dubai is expensive “ or that Dubai, is a desert where summer temperatures are too high for anyone in their right mind to even go near the beach let alone enjoy it.

A girl will tell you , “I do my seasonal shopping in Dubai”, leaving you to wonder how she a regular bank, company, agency , or school employee can afford that. If you ask this seemingly obvious question to her, she would have no problems telling you Daddy is paying.
Again our culture is one that leaves no room for dignity, pride, or even ownership of our incomes. So, even if this girl were an employee paying her share of taxes and social security out of her salary, she sees no shame in taking money from Daddy or anyone who will make her go out to Dubai for the “much needed” shopping spree, while screaming that she is independent and simultaneously refusing to see the schizophrenic duality of this all.

Seeing these people, I am forced to wonder when we had become so stylish so that our shops no longer suffice, and sorry ladies and gentlemen very few of you are breathtaking beauties or bustling bachelors , and certainly very few of you are wearing clothes oozing with style so that they scream the words “I shopped abroad”. News flash, you will probably find the same thing in Amman, but what does shopping in Amman really say about our image in a commercial society where image is everything?

I learned that the issue here isn’t about clothes, shoes, or bags, or Dubai even, but rather it is about how we as a society have become so driven by how everyone else sees us, before we even wonder how we see ourselves. We are even willing to get on a plane to buy clothes that are not any different than the clothes available here, just so that we sit in an outing and tell our friends about it. We are willing to pay installments for a mobile phone just because it is the latest on the market . It is about us no longer believing that if we can’t afford it we don’t need it, but rather believing that we have to have it before even figuring out how we are going to get it.

Now that this is the ideal for a good portion of our society then it is normal for us to look at Dubai as the promise land, and to damn Amman as the land of lost dreams.

It is through commercialism, that we fail to see that Amman is one of the few cities in the world where you see all four seasons roll before your eyes. We yearn for Dubai’s bright lights while we forget that Amman is one of the few cities in the world where you can walk alone at night and be around 85% sure that no one is going to mug you, rob you, or harass you. We want to spend our lives indoors at a mall shopping when we forget that in Amman there is so much to do for under JD10 outside. We want to shop till we drop while forgetting the fresh air.

We complain about our salaries when outside the bubble of commercialism we as regular employees should not be spending money every day of the week on outings, and as employees we shouldn’t buy new clothes every month, or do our seasonal shopping in Dubai or any other city abroad for that matter.

The problem really isn’t with Amman it is with us, as we all want to live like royalty with salaries of normal people, or money daddy earned before he handed it to us.

Think about this before damming this city or looking at any other place as a dreamland. It isn’t always true that the grass is greener on the other side.

How Cool is the Victim?

Posted by dshalabi in 05. Oct, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

After much will power, I finally finished reading Nessyane.com – “The Art of Forgetting” by Ahlam Mastaghani and unlike most women I know, I have to say I didn’t really enjoy the book. The book itself was beautifully written and some of the words in it really stick to the memory, but in it the broken heart was portrayed as a disease that will almost kill us as people if we are not careful, and I prefer to die of something more major.

For those who haven’t read this book, it is an elegantly written piece of work set in the form of a series of articles directed to women who are suffering to the point of near death, all  from a broken hearts. The aim of this book is to help women get over the terrible things men had done to them and the emotional abuse they may have encountered in the process.

Now, let us really think about this. Anyone above the age of 25 must have experienced getting their heart broken at least once. Unless we are people with hearts of stone this has to have been something we dealt with as adults, and the experience comes with a really good lesson given to us coldly as part of growing up.
The general deal is that you get your heart broken, you deal with it, learn from it, and then move on. This is the real world, but in Mastaghani’s world apparently it is a disease that kills us and that requires her therapy, as a writer. Her therapy i supposed to help us forget the terrible things men did to us, as women in the relationship.
Now if the Broken Heart is really a disease that is going to kill me, I would want to see a therapist and not someone who is great with words.

I would not want to cry about it to a writer but rather to the few friends and family members I trust , and whom I know wouldn’t judge me in my moments of weakness. But , this writer sees things differently, she starts off her book by saying that women have begged her to write about this topic and that is why she did. I guess she was doing her lofty contribution to humanity or her contribution to community service as part of her social responsibility as a responsible citizen.

But then again whatever her motives were, she experienced great success with the book, so it must have appealed to some people, and maybe I am just too cynical to see the benefits of it all.
However as a reader, the one issue that really got to me, above everything else was the idea of “victimizing women”. All the women this writer talks about were helpless victims asking for her help. And, she on her part used her well studied interpersonal communications skills, and her well versed knowledge of psychology to cure them from the claws and fangs of the men who have taken advantage of their love.

At this intersection, I have to ask what is it with women and their love for being the victims? Why is it that we act like most men are beasts who are out to just play with our hearts , and that the only thing on their minds is to leave us emotionally paralyzed, or dare I say it fool us into feeling things we don’t want to feel, and doing things we don’t want to do ?
Well if this is really the case then yes we women are immature and we are not going into relationships as adults with our eyes and minds wide open, because ladies sorry, but no guy with all his persuasive powers can make you give him something as simple as a smile if you don’t want to give it, so how about giving your feelings, I think that is a stretch. I just hate to believe that we are as pathetic as this writer makes us out to be. Come one ladies seriously ! ?
Mind you, there are bad guys out there, but the minute we let them be bad to us then we are equally responsible and we are not victims. Does that mean we are angles? We are not!.
We can be bad too, we can damage men emotionally too, and we too play the games of just not responding to them, and yes we are awful , and even unbearable at times. We can just coldly forget a guy if we are evil enough to do so, so how can this writer in one of her articles attributes forgetting coldly as something only men do. Both genders are guilty of doing all of the above, and it is wrong when a man does it and when a woman does it too.

So, where do we get this idea that we are angles and the men are beasts. When any two people start a relationship isn’t it equally possible for the girl to be bad too? Isn’t she also responsible for its failures and its success?

Let us not fool ourselves into believing that it is always the guy’s fault. Any relationship failing is both parties’ faults unless one of them dies suddenly and his/her death was the only thing causing the relationship to end.

Even in the case of cheating, and as unethical as cheating is, the guy wouldn’t have cheated on the girl and the girl wouldn’t have cheated on the guy if they were both perfectly happy. So let us not embrace the idea of being victims because it is really too pathetic for us as grownups and as adults. And, if we are dying of broken hearts, when did we lose our grip on reality in the process of falling in love? I think guys and girls should be given more credit than this writer gives them. Yes, broken hearts are messy, they are awful, and they are painful , but they are not causes of death we can’t bounce back from. The truth is we often bounce back and we still want to try again. The human population would have shrunk by half if the broken heart is the same as this writer makes it out to be.

But, moving away from the book, I just think that we embrace the general idea “victimization” in all phases of life, especially in a fatalistic society like ours. It starts with our misunderstanding of the concept of God and destiny, where we convince ourselves at times that “God made us stay poor” or “God wanted us to be sick” or “God wanted us to be unemployed” or “God didn’t want us to get an education”, now I apologize to all religious people who honestly believe that God throws in our laps misfortunes so that we suffer, because I just don’t think God is that evil. Some people even think that they are victim of these issues so they need to pray more. Sorry, to all these people but if you are spending time praying rather than spending time fixing your problems then you will remain a victim all your life.Don’t stop praying please, but fix your life in the process as well.  I just think life throws misfortunes in our laps and it is up to us to deal with them.  If you like to think God maybe testing us be free to think that, and tell you what, why don’t you try passing the test God is putting you through as part of growing up and being responsible.

Moving away from God, and to our careers, we even enjoy being victims in that field too. We take our Tawjihi exams and we then study whatever major we get admitted to in university. Very few of us even ask if we like what we are studying or not, and then we move on to get a job we don’t like, and we call ourselves victims of the system. Some people even marry a man or woman they don’t really know through arranged marriage and call themselves the victim of that too. So we grow up ion a society that teaches us to think we are  victims of God’s will, victims of educational systems, victims of arranged marriages, so we are victims of life. With this understanding, then it isn’t strange for women to read this book and then enjoy being referred to as the victims of men and broken hearts.

Mind you, we have to admit that there is something attractive in being the victim. As victims we can make one mistake after the next and blame it on things we were forced into without thinking for a second that it could be us. We don’t have to be responsible for anything. How cool is it to not be responsible for failing at work, under the pretense that we didn’t choose our career?, and how cool is it for us to just hate our significant other, under the pretense that we were forced into marriage and we didn’t love them in the first place? Isn’t it easier to be the victim instead of owning up to our part in our failures.

Let us not pin everything bad on God as humans and on men as women for that matter. If being the victim is ok, then we shouldn’t be adults. But, how many of us are really ready to be grown ups and to own up for what we managed to accomplish and not accomplish in life.

I guess I just didn’t like this book because I can’t stand being looked at as a victim, but that is just cynical me living my cynical life.

When Did Nice Become the Equivalent of Cheap?

Posted by dshalabi in 08. Oct, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

For the last few weeks a new driver has been taking me and a group of volunteers to Jerash for our weekly volunteering teaching activity at Gaza Camp.

In our friendly nature, as a group we had been treating this driver as a friend. We often asked him to have lunch with us, and we enjoyed his selection of hip-hop music. We often listened to his opinions about our project and what we should or shouldn’t do with it. We even asked him to come help us with the teaching simply because we always believed that this is a fun activity we should all enjoy.

All this was good , until about two weeks ago when I started to feel that our friendliness was mistaken for something else. You see, at that point, the driver started telling us about his wonderful adventures at the disco, his experiences with alcohol, and which drink gets you drunk the fastest, of course that was after he showed us his dance moves.

Now, to some extent I am open minded and I am fine with people drinking and I even am ok with people going to the disco, at the end of the day, each person is free to do as he/she likes. My problem though was with his invitation to us to go with him next Thursday to a party at his home with his guy friends and at that point I told him, “Ya sure coz I often go every Thursday with people I hardly know to parties and discos”.

I said those words in the highest level of sarcasm I could master so that he could get the hint that this sort of invitation is really making me uncomfortable especially since it was accompanied with what I couldn’t mistake for anything but a sleazy smile. Unfortunately, the guy didn’t get the point, and the next week he continued his stories about how he meets random women on Facebook and then he decides to meet them with a red rose. He also told us that if they are not babes he tells them to bug off in the most degrading way possible.

He told us these intriguing stories as if it were some major achievement on his part and as if he were the stud of the year, and needless to tell you that he is far from a stud. He then kept receiving phone calls from women i, and he spoke to them in the highest level of flirtation possible while making plans to meet them later on in the day. He then ended his impressive behavior by inviting the van full of volunteers for a weekend at the Movenpick Dead Sea where we can take two suites and enjoy free access to the pool.

At that point, I really started to see this man as the equivalent of a sleeze ball and I was trying my best to maintain a straight face and to pass the day without problems, because I knew that if I started responding I was going to slap him let alone say something really hurtful to him.

I went home that day and I really started to wonder, what it was that made this driver think we were a bunch of cheap girls open for a night of drinking in his house with strange men, or worse still open for a weekend in the dead sea swimming with him. I, for one, am a person who is not ok with swimming in mixed pools so what makes him believe I am ok with this sort of thing. Was it because we were nice and he then assumed that nice is the same as cheap, or dare i say it something beyond cheap?

My memory started jogging back to the summers we spent raising funds for the Gaza Camp project in JARA and the number of sleazy men we encountered. I remembered the guy who assumed i was going to have coffee with him at 11:00 pm just because he donated money, and the other guy who didn’t want to talk about sponsoring the project unless i saw him alone, needless to tell you i ended that conversation by telling him “I don’t want your sponsorship thank you”.

I also remembered the guy who threw extra money in the box when he knew I was a natural blonde, and i am kidding on this one, that is how pathetic he was. i also remembered the guys who were not interested in the project but rather they were interested in meeting the girls talking about the project , and that is not counting the pathetic people who called me to ask me pathetic things.

It was then that I realized that nice is sometimes mistaken for cheap. The driver decided we were cheap and easy just because we were nice to him and the guys i spoke about above also thought we were cheap and easy just because we were nice to them too.

Although a good percentage of the guys we meet are decent, it is this ridiculous percentage sleazy guys   that make me wonder how exactly is it that we are supposed to talk to a guy. Are girls supposed to be mean to the guys in case they turn out to be sleaze balls ? Was I supposed to be a total snob to this driver?

It is the sleazy guys who are running it for the good guys. It is these men who make a girl a total ice queen when a guy talks to her. And, it is these guys who ruin it for the guys who may ask for a girl’s number for totally innocent purposes. In our society nice is sometimes mistaken for cheap and this really has to change.

Note

At this point I have to say that thankfully most of the people we do meet are decent , it is just this small percentage that create a bad name to the male population. No generalization is intended in this post.

You Didn’t Tell Me….. So I’m Angry!

Posted by dshalabi in 10. Oct, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

How many times did you go to a gathering, only to find that a friend of yours is acting strangely towards you. You would ask “Hey, how are you” and they could barely manage an “I’m good”. You then ask “What’s new with you?” and that is when they would explode at you and say “What’s new? What’s new you ask…. You are the one with the news. You didn’t tell me that you ……”| and the dots would signify  anything from traveled to changed jobs, to got married. In my case it was “You didn’t tell me that you changed your job. I had to find out by chance”. That situation happened to me from a friend, whom hadn’t spoken to me for the past 10 months, and who was seriously upset by the fact that I didn’t tell her I changed jobs over three months ago.

I really had to wonder at the time how much at fault was I? I mean, what are the chances of a person sending an sms to everyone he/she knows to tell them that he/she changed a job. I figured that the people who spoke to me regularly would know about the job change and indeed they did know, and they even asked regularly how I was doing in the new job especially during the first few weeks .

Those who didn’t talk to me regularly didn’t know and I didn’t assume that they cared. I wasn’t even offended by their lack of interest in my personal life, because like this friend who is upset after a ten month absence, me and those people talked occasionally. The conversations are pleasant and as we simply catch up every once in a while, so really the new job really wasn’t an exiting piece of news to share with the whole world. It is not like “I got Married”, or “I moved countries”, or “I had a major operation”, “Or I published a major novel”, or “I got my PHD”. I just changed jobs. Speaking of operations, once someone even got really angry at me because I didn’t tell them I was sick with the flu, seriously leaving me to wonder what the possibilities are of me actually picking up the phone and telling everyone I know with my sour throat and fever that I am sick.

Again, what exactly is the thrill of this juicy piece of news that I am sick, how is it such an intriguing topic of conversation worthy of a phone call . I am sure if people really cared about us they would call regularly enough to know when we are sick or when we changed jobs, but unfortunately those people screaming at you for not telling them something are not really interested in you or your news, they are interested in the power of knowing .

After my “friend”, I think “friend” did the whole issue about not knowing about my job change, I said calmly “Now you know, how about taking the time to ask me about it, since it is so important to you”, and she replied “I don’t want to ask, because you should have told me” Needless to say the conversation kept getting more and more ridiculous from that minute onwards, to the point where I found myself apologizing to her without knowing what exactly I was apologizing for, but I did it anyway to stop her from being genuinely upset, and to put an end to conversation that was obviously an insult to both our intelligences.

You see, this happens all the time in our society. A relative may get upset because you didn’t tell them you were traveling, given that that same relative would talk to you once every six months, an acquaintance would get upset because you didn’t tell them your distant relative passed away (God Forbid) when in reality once you are faced with death, chances are that you are not really going to pick up your phone and inform every person you know. You would only tell those who should know or those close enough to you to know.

So why is it that these things happen? I think in our society, we feel embarrassed about not knowing everyone’s business.We worry that it seems like we don’t care. We may even get humiliated for not being the first on the planet to know about the others, or it could be that our lives are so empty, that we assume a person didn’t tell us about them out of pure evilness when in reality they didn’t say anything for reasons far simpler than that. The bottom line is, if we really care so much as we say we do, we sometimes need to make the effort and ask abou others, before getting upset because they didn’t volunteer information. This may seem obvious and arbitrary to most, but sadly our society is full of consenting rational adults who are still not clear on this simple fact.

If you are seriously interested in another person’s news just ask about them.

In a gathering I heard this statement and it stuck to my mind “Half the Jordanian society is angry at you, and you are angry at the second half” and seriously very few of us are adult enough to ask the person upsetting us why they did or didn’t tell us something

The Event Planning Blues with 23 Steps to Planning a Friend’s Birthday!

Posted by dshalabi in 12. Oct, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

In my modest experience in planning events of all types, from simple birthday parties for friends, to an iftar for orphans, to a booth in JARA, to the weekly trip to Jerash Gaza camp, to book club meetings, I narrowed the event planning process down to a few simple steps. After all, event planning is your equivalent to a crash course on psychology. It is a real eye opener on how people think and act. So, today, I will tell you the simple steps to planning your friend’s birthday party in the style of our community. It is really simple so sit back, read, and enjoy!
1: You look at the Calendar and you realize it is your friend’s birthday.
2: You pick up the phone and tell your other friend hey it is xxx’s birthday. Your friend then says ya I realized that we should do something right? You say “right”, giving your friend room to suggest something.
3: Your friend then says what shall we do? making it a federal affair.
4: Realizing that he/she won’t suggest anything you say I will send a Facebook message to everyone else in the group and see what they think.
5: You send a simple Facebook message to everyone who you think is interested in the massive discovery and you kindly remind them it is a xxx’s birthday.
Caution: VERY IMPORTANT: Don’t make the fatal mistake of suggesting anything, because if you do people will call you a dictator or bossy. Write that you are open for suggestions and wait.
6: Realize a week later that apparently the message you sent was so powerful that it made everyone speechless. No one suggests anything at this point.
7: Send another kind reminder to everyone, whom you regularly see on Facebook, and who you are sure saw the message, remembering to be very friendly because if you are not, people will say you have an attitude problem The friendly message would be something like “Guys, one week left for xxx’s birthday. Any ideas”. Add a smiley face in case they thing you are ordering them.
8: Watch the empty message for another few days.
9: At this point, you are allowed to be a bit rude like me, so then you send another message with a bit of attitude. I end up sending things like “Ok, since you are all in a coma of some sort, or if not we should be reporting you all officially missing the plan is as follows : we are going to go to (This place) on this day (Date) at this time, and the budget is JD 5 per person for gift and cake. When you do wake up from the coma or your hibernation please be kind enough to respond, with a yes, a no, a maybe, a i like, I don’ like. And have a nice day”
10: Somehow, this message gets everyone’s creativity going. Don’t suggest anything before, because then you are dictator, remember ! Suggest it now and the suggestions will come pouring out, and all of them have one thing in mind to attack your suggestion and prove their idea is better:
a: One person will tell you they don’t like the place but the timing is fine
b: Another person will tell you the timing is too late or too early but they like the place
c: A third person would want an official financial statement as to why you are going to collect JD 5
d: A fourth person will send you a private message asking you why you invited yyy and zzz to the birthday.
e: A fifth person will tell you in another private message that if zzz is coming to the birthday he/she would not come, and if you don’t invite www he/she won’t come either. You tell them Yyy and zzz and www are the birthday boy/girl’s friends and that this person and the people he/she doesn’t like will all just have to be adults for an hour and pretend to like each other without drama, reminding the person objecting kindly that the event really isn’t about them.
f: A sixth person, and this has to be my personal favorite, will scratch out your plan completely and say. I have another idea and the idea usually involves another place, on another day, and a higher price tag.
11: For your sanity, read the 20 new messages you got about the birthday. Don’t say anything, close your laptop or computer and walk away. Better still don’t show up on Facebook for 24 hours.
12: You may receive messages from people on your phone about the birthday ignore those too, and enjoy your life for 24 hours.
13: Go back to the message thread about the birthday the next day, and realize you had 150 notifications on it. Read through them for your own amusement and see how many people argued about the birthday, and in some cases how many people insulted each other, how many people left the conversation and how many people had fights .
14: After reading the whole argument, now is your role to be the voice of reason choose the two suggestions that make sense, because there will be many ridiculous ideas in the arguments and say with a smiley face ” Hello again everyone, look we have two suggestions only”
a: We will go to (place) on this (Day) and this time. (Your original plan)
b: We will go by so and so suggestion which is this place this day and this time/
These are the ONLY two suggestions we have that make sense and that are within our price range. Please vote on which one of these two suggestions you want and only these two suggestions nothing else , Thank you and have a great day :)
15: Watch the people vote over the next few days, with most of them going for your original plan.
16: Now,wait for a person to come up with a third suggestion that has nothing to do with the two you have stated above two days before the event. Now at this point, you are really allowed to have an attitude problem and say NO I said these two suggestions ONLY and No we will not pay JD 10 instead of JD 5, OK ?
17: Say these words, while knowing for sure that this person is going to be talking about you behind your back and if he/she is a blogger they would blog terrible things about you. Happened to me before, and I got over it.
18: Now one day before the event you will realize that your original plan was voted for the most, not because you are a genius, but because it was the only one that made sense to begin with.
19: Now one evening before the event kindly ask who will be responsible for what with a neat list that says:
Cake—————
Candles—————
Bringing the birthday boy/birthday girl:————-
Reserving a table at the Cafe (Make sure it is a cafe so that no one is forced to pay more than JD 5)——————
Gift:———————— (Clearly stating what the gift is and how much it will cost)
20: Do this list in the morning than disappear from Facebook till the next morning leaving the rest of the group to fight about it all night.
21: Come back in the morning read the 50 something notifications you got and realize that they didn’t reach any solution so you assign people roles.
Don’t assign people roles before this point because they would call you a dictator with an attitude problem remember?
22: Create the neat list on the day of the birthday, and then go to the event and enjoy the birthday gathering.
23: Now after the birthday blast and after the birthday boy/girl thanks you all for making their day, it isn’t over, just wait, as someone always has to say “You know if it were up to me, I would have done this, and this and that” This is usually a person who didn’t suggest or say anything the whole time.
Feel free to hit them. Or if you are diplomatic like me, just smile and say “There will be other birthdays, I love your suggestion, you can plan it next time”, knowing fuly well that they won’t plan anything and that you will go through all the above steps for any event you plan.
This has nothing to do with age, people will do that if they are in their teenage years, their 20s, 30s, 40s, or 50s, and whether it is a birthday, a conference, an exhibition, a meeting, or a volunteering activity. After all, we as people hate to be told what to do. We want to think that our idea is the best, and we sometimes talk just because we want to be talking and not because we have something constructive to add to the plan. Somebody has to be the voice of reason in this all, even if that person sometimes is mistaken for a negative person with an attitude problem.

Regardless of all this  all my friends are worth it, and event planning is really fun. Anyhow this is the story of my life with the event planning . Hope this helps you when you plan anything.

September 2012

Switching to love mode (A read only for those daring and willing to be honest about love in our society)

Posted by dshalabi in 16. Sep, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

In our society, where most schools are not co-ed, a good percentage of young adults experience their first real interaction with the opposite sex after the age of 18.

It is only after they have gone through their teenaged years crushing over their favorite singer, actor, or dancer that they go to university or college or even the workplace to come face to face with the first real talking female who isn’t their mom , their sister, a cousin, an aunt, or a distant relative .

The more lucky teenagers spend their wonder years loving the girl or guy next door, or the handsome guy working in the supermarket, or the pretty girl posting seductive photos online.

Such relationships often comprise of the occasional missed call, a pointless sms, a glance out of the window, or a love note delivered by the shaky nervous hands of a brother or a sister. In some cases they may also include and long chat sessions with one member oversees, or long midnight phone conversations spoken in whispers behind closed doors .

Some more intense versions of such relations are only one-sided where the other person doesn’t know of the lover boy or lover girl’s feelings, and thus the young teenager “in love” talks about the broken heart with his/her close friends of the same sex and of course. There are the even more lucky teenagers who go to mixed schools but some of those teenagers are told by their families that a decent guy/girl doesn’t really mix with the opposite sex. With this idea in mind, these shy teenagers spend their teenage years loving the classmate in secret or even enjoying a secret love story with themselves, the loved one and the secret love emails, and then there the other Arab teenager coming from more open minded families where they are free to mingle with the other sex at an early age but even these form a relatively small portion of the community . These open minded teenagers are sometimes even ridiculed by their conservative relatives for their ability to talk to the opposite sex.

Based on this optimistic social image that is even true to a great extent in the year 2012, many of us grow up to be emotionally immature about relationships even when we are well into our twenties or thirties.

Thus, it is not uncommon for an adult in her twenties or thirties to think that every guy talking to her is interested in perusing her romantically or for a guy of the same age to think that every girl smiling at him is holding some secret crush on him .

As a result, many of us live in our own self created drama.
So, why do people do that to themselves?  The honest truth is that we all learn at an early age that it is great to feel in love. Let us just be honest about this and own up to it, we all learn it is cool to love the neighbor, celebrity, or guy/girl in school when we are as young as 12 years old, and yes we all want to feel the tingly feeling of love, and our ego inflates when we feel wonted, or pursued.

In a nutshell, we as human beings love the extra attention that such a status brings us, even if it is a status created from the threads of our imagination.

We just enjoy thinking that every romantic movie is telling our story, every break up on the silver screen is retelling our pain, and every couple reuniting after a fight on screen or years of separation tells our story after the nasty break up, the one sided love story, or our mind created affair with the stranger we happen to pass by every day.
Let us all agree that  being in love is very natural, but ironically, it is this very natural hunger for love that our society tries so hard to shield us from.

Little does the society know that the shield makes us wont it even more than our peers abroad. While we secretly hope for love to hit us, our parents friends, and family tell us not to go for the possibility of love under the pretense of it being religiously forbidden, which even in itself is a connotation open to discussion.

Even if we are not forbidden to love for religious reasons, we are often warned time and time again of the vile effects of love. Girls are told that guys can not love and that they are interested in the body, and guys are told that girls are selfish beings incapable of love and that they are interested in money. both these allegations are powerful enough to make us fight our natural urge to love and be loved emotionally. We are told that love is only allowed if the person loving us is going to marry us, and we have to know the response to his/her intentions for marriage before the relationship or the invitation to be in love is made.

So, with this social make up, it is not uncommon to find young adults in their 20s seeking marriage before seeking stable jobs or any other dream in life.

We can even argue that they don’t want to necessarily get married or live the responsibilities that come with marriage for marriage’s sake, but rather they want this marriage because it is only under the umbrella of marriage that they are allowed to be emotionally in love in public not in secret, in front of the family and not behind their backs, on the phone in an open room and not on the phone behind a closed door, online, offline, and everywhere.

It is only when the girl is no longer the girlfriend but rather the fiancé that she is allowed to openly receive flowers in the workplace with no smiles and winks from the colleagues, to have her guy pick her up from work without the suspicion and to openly go on a date. The guy also moves from boyfriend to “husband to be’ so that he is allowed to talk to the girl for long hours, and it is only when a ring is placed on the girl’s finger by the guy that he is even allowed to say how he feels .

If he speaks of love at any point before the ring is secured, the girl will probably bite his head off and tell him “There is nothing between you and me before you put a ring on my finger, so don’t say you love me.”

It is also only after the guy puts a ring on a girl’s finger that her parents stop asking too much about him, who he is, and what he wants, and it is only after he formally proposes do her friends stop telling her that he is out to fool her, hurt her, or get her physically.

Of course, even after he proposes, the relatives should never know that they were dating, that is if they even dared to date before he puts the ring on her finger.

If they spoke of their love no one on the planet should know and the guy should even pretend that he miraculously liked her from a far. She should never pretend she liked him and she should only wait until her father approves before she even allows herself to talk to him. Of course she would talk to him but in secret before, and he has to pretend that he never even knew her, and yet after they are formally engaged they are expected to act so in love.
Having said that and having said that the society shields us from love , we then really shouldn’t be shocked when we see two people engaged via an arranged marriage and yet acting so in love.

We can argue that they don’t really love each other but they are both hungry to feel that love they have not been allowed to naturally address with anyone since childhood, their teenage years, their college years, or even professional life . Finally the two adults are allowed to be in love. In fact, they are encouraged and pleaded with to be in love. The same parents who didn’t want them to be in relationships before marriage are begging them to spend time together since they are now legally engaged.

If the guy has the right money, right job, right family, and right background, then the girl is ridiculed and shamed if she said something as simple as “I don’t think we have anything in common” before turning down his proposal . Her friends will tell her she has to love him, because he is ready and willing to marry her and love her as if it were a given. A guy is also ridiculed and shamed if he meets a girl and says “I don’t see us being together” because he has to love her and marry her because she is “right”.

So yes, in a society like ours, a society that puts so many per-conditions to love, how to love, when to love, and more importantly who to love, we grow up deprived of our basic right to love someone who loves us, and in our desperation to feel that thrill of being loved and in love, a thrill we hear about in every song, movie, and series we are exposed to , we pour all our feelings into the first person we are ever allowed to openly be males and females in front of and in front of the world.

It is sad but true that many people in our society get married just to be allowed to fall in love rather than falling in love and then getting married. They spend the rest of our lives playing the theatrical performance of love before the world, but then the curtain falls on the performance, and they and the the significant other or rather the person they chose to marry without love only to love later and go behind the closed doors.

Behind the closed doors, and away from the bright light the married couple realizes that they can’t just love on demand, so they have an encore performance of the fake love show they made for ourselves year after year, and decade after decade. They only wake up years later old, grey, and with the sad realization that they practiced their right to feel loved and in love with a total stranger.

The stranger they poured their feelings into didn’t really love them for them and just as they are, but rather he/she was ready at the right place at the right time to feel love and give it too. Most marriages in our society are love less because love isn’t forced it is felt. Is it just, is it fair?

The truth is ,I think, we all deserve better
And, yes there is something better. Don’t you think?

Note
I know some people will say that the society is more open in some cases but what is the percentage of people who are open to love and being in love in comparison to the masses.

Whatever!

Posted by dshalabi in 20. Sep, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

The word “Whatever” said with an attitude can often be seen as a defense mechanism used by men or women to hide a true emotion. Let us all admit it! We all know very well that this is exactly what we do, we say “whatever” to put a speedy end to an issue that may reveal too much about how we feel.

But then again, what exactly are these powerful emotions that we hide under the layers of “whatever”? Why is it that when asked if we are upset about an issue we say “whatever… I really don’t care”, or when a boss says something terrible to us we say “whatever…. It is only a job it’s not my life”, or when someone calls us fat, ugly, or inadequate we say “whatever…………. That person doesn’t really have to like me and his/her opinion doesn’t matter” or when the person who upsets us asks us if we are upset we say” Whatever………. Forget it”? The answer is that the word “whatever” has become this powerful gap filler that stops us from looking vulnerable within a cynical world that has no place for the weak or vulnerable.

But within this cynical world, have we become so cynical ourselves? Have we really started to believe that expressing true emotion is beyond us? Has the world become so harsh that the word “whatever” shields us from showing that we feel anything.?

Let us for a second look at the alternative to the word “whatever! “. The alternative would be “Yes I am upset”, “Yes, the boss did upset me by the things he/she said”, “Yes, I do care , and I don’t want you calling me fat, ugly, or inadequate”, and “Yes, you were rude and I won’t forget it because you owe me an apology” . In all these alternatives we express our needs as people, and God forbid , we look weak enough to want the respect, recognition, and acknowledgement we deserve. We let the other person we would otherwise be saying “whatever” to, inside our soul so that he/she knows how we feel, and so we probably fear with all our hearts and minds that the other person uses our feelings against us.

There is also the other possibility that if we don’t shield our feelings with the word “whatever”. we may be mistaken for people with bad attitudes.What about this bad attitude stigma we are so afraid of ? Where does this come from? Well, it might be that we have become so used to the word “whatever” that we honestly label any person telling us what upsets them or why they are annoyed or why they are hurt ,a demanding trouble maker.

The trouble maker then starts losing friends. He/she starts finding that people really don’t want to listen, and in the end he/she learns like the rest of the world to say “whatever” about anything that is slightly inconvenient.

But then again, if we all continue to live our lives saying “whatever” about anything and everything bothering us then how are we ever going to move forward. How are we ever going to dare to let people learn about the real us, and what makes us, shakes us, and breaks us. How are we ever going to address issues bothering us personally or as a society collectively?

Maybe just maybe the person with the bad attitude, or the annoying person not going with the crowd, or the person telling his/her friends, family, and coworkers when they were upset had it right all along?

Maybe this is something worth thinking about next time we find ourselves saying whatever about an issue that is not a “whatever” issue at all? Maybe this is something worth teaching our kids before we teach them to smile and say please and thank you.

Maybe even you are reading this and thinking to your self “whatever”, so if you are let me just tell you whatever suit yourself !

The Deep End!

Posted by dshalabi in 24. Sep, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

I am at this frightening stage in my life where the question”Why should I care” is popping in my head way too often. I ask this cosmic question whenever I find myself worrying about the toastmaster club dues, and I ask it to myself as we plan an event for one of the organizations I am part of . I also ask it whenever I realize that I am angry about not finding a  venue for an event I am volunteering for, and I even ask it when I work for my Gaza Camp project only to find that some of the very people I am working for are not really helping themselves. Finally,  I also  ask this question when I find myself upset over a person’s actions, or even a person’s lack of action.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I assure you that this is the first time I find myself in this phase in my life . Let us call it the “Why should I care” phase. What is frightening about this whole “Why should I care” issue is that you find yourself losing passion for the very things that used to define your day, your action, and your being, and your ideals. In my case, I have always been passionate about teaching the young ladies at the camp, about working with them to get scholarships, and about the kids we teach.

So, whenever, I find myself asking “why should I care” regarding this project I am instantly  terrified at the remote possibility that I don’t care. I worry that if I don’t care no one else will care. , and I find myself feeling that I have to care about this project out of all projects I am involved in since it is one that is close to my heart. It is a project that I and the rest of the involved volunteers have fought many wars for, and one which I personally used to spend my Fridays for at souk JARA standing in the sun to collect funds.

I find myself trapped in having to care because I remember all the mentalities I had to deal with, all the people who didn’t support us, and all the struggles me and the volunteers went through to ensure rights for the kids and young ladies we teach. I then remember the times, when there were no funds to continue this project, and it was during these times that me and the other volunteers were driven to move forward by passion . I also remember the times during which our passion drove us to pay from our own pockets to get to the camp and to buy stationary. So it is only natural that I find myself obliged to care since this project has come too far for me not care. In the purely logical sense I must care, will care, and have to care.

But in the emotional sense I find myself going through times when I just want to give up, I feel I want to give up when I see one of my students dropping out of school, getting married at 15, or even pregnant at 16. And, it is then that I feel a pain in the pit of my heart where I ask myself “If I stop caring:” then “who am I”. If I am not the believer in this cause, in doing things for the community, and wanting to do something great, then who am I? Why am I not caring these days?. Then I ask myself if we don’t go every Saturday then what will we do?

As people, I think we find ourselves holding onto things, people, and ideals just because we have made them define us.

We trap ourselves into having a job define who we are, a project defining what we like, and our friends defining what we do for fun. With such clear cut definitions, it is only natural for us to get scared or even terrified about not caring for the very things that have shaped our lives for as long as we remember. When we find ourselves not caring , it is like we are swimming into the sea of the unknown, where we dare to say to ourselves “If I don’t care about the things I really cared about for so long, then what do I care about” This question only forces us to really look hard at ourselves and to honestly get to know ourselves once again.

When we admit that we just don’t care anymore, we switch our identity off autopilot mode and we decide to re-direct it again towards a long a tedious process of redefinition.

Let us face it, after a certain age we might even feel it is too late for us to redefine what we like and who we are and what we care about, so instead we force ourselves to care about the same things we cared about for years.

In my personal case, I hope that this is only a phase! I hope it is a reflection of a bad mood, and I really hope  that I go back to actually caring. But right now, I am asking why should I care?  What my answer will be, is only open to time.
In the meantime, ask yourself this,  how would you get out of the why should I care mode?
Any ideas?

Note
English teaching at Gaza Camp is the project me and volunteers work on at Jerash Gaza Camp. To learn more go to our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/English-Teaching-at-Gaza-Camp/189281897803746
Toastmasters is an international organization that teaches public speaking and leadership. To know more go to http://www.toastmasters.org

August 2012

3 Winters

Posted by dshalabi in 12. Aug, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

As the months went by she continued to plot and plan what she would say to him, him being that slick sly handsome man who had hurt her so deeply.

She played out the conversations in her mind time and time again, where she would tell him how he had been the cause of months of emotional pain for her.

Like a movie she had diligently and whole heartedly rehearsed for, she learned the scenario of their long awaited confrontation by heart. With every passing day, the conversation became clearer and clearer to her. In her

moments of solitude, she would even hear his voice, his replies, and she could see his reactions to the harsh words she had planned to coldly but firmly say. Oddly enough though, she could never see his face.

As she replayed past conversations in her head, she kept adding words to the confrontation she so hoped and dreamed of. She decided that she would not only tell him that he hurt her, but that she would also tell him how brutal he was in his allegations against her. She would tell him of specific incidents in which he had made her feel like a mere option , a mere number, a name without an identity on his list of womanizing vices.

One night, while she was drowning in a sea of plotting she even stopped mid-thought to ask herself, what exactly she wonted from this confrontation. Did she want him to say that he missed her and that he was mistaken to let her go, or did she want him to give her that long overdue apology?

She then realized that she wanted both, she wanted him to beg her to give him a second chance, and she also wonted a sincere apology for shaking her and tarnishing her ability to trust. She wanted him to apologize for all the other men who showed

interest in her and whom she had sent running away by her neurotic tendencies. She wanted him to apologize for lowering her self-esteem by his emotional and literal infidelity, for making her laugh in the face of any compliment anyone would pay her, and for making her constantly feel she was not good enough and not worthy .

She wanted him to apologize for not making her his one and only, and as the days went by the list of things she wanted him to apologize for kept getting longer.
She didn’t only want an apology, but she also wanted to feel the sweet cold revenge of him begging her to take him back . She wanted to be able to say to him and only him “I deserve better” as she walks away with her head held up high. She felt that then and only then she would be cured.

She didn’t really know when her moment of closure would come, but she was fully prepared for it, dreaming of it and yearning for it day after day.

With the confidence and certainty that she knew exactly what she will say and how she will say it, she allowed her thoughts to be occupied by other non-romantic pursuits.
A few months after his departure from her life, Her focus on ambition rather than love granted her a promotion at work. She did not only welcome this promotion but she also allowed herself to dive into, working the extra hours and doing all what it took for her to succeed in her new position.

At times she felt she was over him, but at other times as she was basking in the glory of her career success she smiled to herself and thought that she would tell him about that too, proving that she had moved on and that contrary to what he thought she was in fact smart.
Resting on her new found career security, she even allowed herself to socialize more, and she made sure to make all the photos she took with her friends visible in her social media networks, should he still be interested in knowing about her.

She would send him an unspoken message through her photos that with or without him she had a life, and this staged image gave her some comfort only some, as she still secretly waited for the confrontation.

At last the wait was over,as it was on one winter evening as she and her friends were sipping hot chocolate in café, that he walked through the door. He was alone, and the first thing she noticed was that he was not as muscular as she had remembered.

She glanced at his face and it was then that she remembered why it was blurry in her thoughts ,as it was only the time, the place, and the idea of romance that had made that face handsome to her. Now, 3 winters later, it was a face without context, a face void of significance, a face she had no right to relate to or feel anything for.

This realization made her shudder, had she been negating her present by pondering over the past? Had she been angry for all this time about an issue that has become foreign to her now?

While she was lost in that thought he came over to her and said “Long time no see, you are looking good”. She looked at him blankly and she considered whether or not she should tell him what she wanted to say. In the few seconds that past many thoughts came into her mind, one of which was that he had become so unfamiliar, his voice sounded different, and he looked different. She was even filled with the more pressing impulse of wanting him to go away, not out of fear or anger but out of the sheer desire to continue her evening with her friends in peace.

She then realized the awkwardness of the situation as he pulled out his hand to shake hers, and suddenly every single word she wanted to tell him was drained from her memory like water being poured down an open drain. Seeing his suspended hand she stood up and shook it, she smiled and simply said “Hi, it is good seeing you too”.

“Let’s go out for coffee I really need to talk to you” he said, and she replied “I…………I” and the words were not coming out, not out of nervousness but out of the mere thought that they suddenly seemed 3 winters too late. Shyly looking the other way she said “I’m………I’m” and then she paused to search deeply for the hatred, the pain, the heartache, she once felt only to realize she felt nothing. She looked at him again and searched desperately in his features for a sign of what she once felt but sadly she saw nothing, so she firmly said “I’m sorry I am with people now”. He replied “I think we need to talk about …” and she interrupted him and gently said “Please forget it, it was a long time ago” . “I think I owe you an apology” he said in pure desperation, a confession that is supposed to satisfy her, but she honestly felt that the confession held little meaning as it was 3 winters too late.”We’re good,” she said and nodded to him sending him off on his way.

After that day, she never thought about him again.

Sometimes people spend too much of their time plotting for revenge. They spend too much time scrutinizing over the nitty gritty details of events that happened in the past. They feel hurt by things said or done to them to the point where their pain prevents them from seeing the bigger picture. It is only when they come face to face with the chance to settle old scores that they realize that they forgot where the conflict was. While being too trapped in their feelings they fail to realize that the world around them has moved on, moreover they fail to realize that they too have moved on too.

Romantic Movies, Worlds of Second Chances

Posted by dshalabi in 26. Aug, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

Just now I finished watching Eat Pray Love for the fifth time. I watched it out boredom and it was the only ok thing on TV. I know the movie off by heart, yet I can’t help but feel good every time I see that last scene when Julia Roberts decides to be with the guy she loves.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I should probably tell you that I am really not the incurable romantic. I am not the sort of girl who cries at movies, and yet it shocks me to realize that there is something about those last scenes in romantic movies when two people unite and the music starts playing , and then the scene fades on them arm in arm with nothing more than every promise that they will live happily ever after that is just fascinating to me. Such scenes just makes me feel good. More romantic people may even take out the box of tissues and start crying at such scenes. Do that in front of me and I might hit you with the box of tissues. (Kidding)

So what is it that makes us feel so great when we see that last scene in the movie where the two people in love meet, or agree, or decide to put their differences aside and live together anyway? Perhaps it isn’t the love we are so thrilled about but rather it is that promise of a second chance.

Putting horror movies aside, I think most other movies give us this promise, they let us believe that we get that chance to fix our mistakes. It is that second chance we never get in real life that makes us turn to movies for self assurance that the world is ok. In “Eat Pray Love” Julia Roberts was about to go on a plane and then she changed her mind in the last minute only to find the guy she had rejected a few scenes before waiting for her. She got the second chance. Ladies, you try doing that in real life i.e. rejecting someone and then deciding last minute that you want him and then good luck with trying to find him waiting for you. This is simply because in real life you make it or break it and in very rare cases do you get that second chance to rethink your decisions regarding matters of the heart. The list is endless when it comes to movies where the girl gets her second chance. These movies include “The Notebook” where the leading character cheated on her fiancé and he was nice enough to forgive her and leave her to go to her first love. “The Devil Wears Prada”, “Bride Wars”, etc these movies all carry that same hope in their plots.

Similarly in Good Will Hunting, Matt Dayman rejects the girl. She cries and moves away and yet the movie ends with him driving a car and on his way to see her, leaving us feeling great about the fact that they will unite. He got his second chance but in real life how many guys get this chance. Good luck with a guy rejecting a girl and then finding her waiting for him. The same is the case with other movies like “Hitch”, “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days”, “A Lot Like Love”, “New Years Eve”, and many others. The men in all these movies make stupid mistakes. They lose the woman they love. They wake up , realize it, run after her, and then they find her ready to take them back.
In real life we don’t open our eyes and realize the mistakes we had committed to our love ones, and run through rain, fog , and traffic, and find them waiting.

Most of the time, the loved one isn’t really ready to give us a second chance. We don’t arrive at the airport just before the love of our life is about to make some exciting career move in some city and they stay and even if we did and we begged them to stay chances are they will lave anyway . What are the chances of them getting all teary and telling us they love us ? What are the chances of them canceling their plans to be with us? What are the chances of a guy realizing he loves a girl and realizing she is there waiting for him and available? In real life the guy doesn’t get the second chance. By the time he makes this amazing discovery the girl is probably living happily ever after with someone who took the first chance he got.

So, I really don’t think we are in love with the romance of a romantic movies. I think we are in love with the idea of a world where all mistakes can be corrected, we are never too late in finding our true happiness, we end up with the loves of our lives, and a world that gives us chances, that plays soft music in a love scene, and that makes all the pieces of the relationship puzzle fit. That is why we escape from reality to the darkness of a movie theater, the popcorn, and the loud sound effects. We escape to the world where everything is possible.

Uneducated or Single ?

Posted by dshalabi in 28. Aug, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

Just when I begin to feel that the gap between genders and their right to education is fading someone has to prove me wrong. Just the other day, the driver who takes us every week to Gaza Camp informed me that his son, a fresh university graduate, got engaged. He went on to tell me that the young man’s fiancé was a 17 year old girl who is the grand daughter of a friend.

The girl is still in school, but never the less, she is planning to get married after she completes her Tawjihi exams the following year.

Explaining further he said ”You see my son doesn’t want a girl who will give him a hard time. He wants a girl who has no desire to work and who will give him a hot meal, a clean home and well behaved kids”. “So, that is it for her? She isn’t going to peruse a higher education?” I asked. “You see, my son doesn’t want an educated girl . He wants a low maintenance girl who doesn’t have too many opinions of her own” he replied.

Seeing that I would never agree with this man, I decided to cut the conversation short. But, then one of the volunteers told me that there is this growing trend “Men do prefer to marry uneducated women. Young fresh graduates don’t want educated working girls for their wives. They like them as friends, girlfriends even but when they are looking for a wife they prefer girls who are simple and who want to be stay at home moms.” she said.
“Educated women are too annoying to deal with” said the driver “The more educated you are the less desirable you become as a wife”. Then, he went on to tell us how his wife wanted to work and how after letting her do so he realized that this decision affected them as a family .

He complained that the food was never ready on time, and that she came home late.
Ironically, we were having this conversation while we were on our way to Jerash Gaza Camp where me and a group of volunteers go once a week to teach English. Within this project, I educate a group of young women. Within our weekly classes I speak to them about the need for women to get an education and to go out and work. Me and my young students talk about education as being a source of power and I relentlessly explain to them that without it they are at a loss when it comes to bettering their living conditions. Now, after such a conversation I am seriously wondering if I am ruining these traditional girls’ lives .

Am I promising the ladies I teach a world where education, mind, and family can co-exisit while in reality it can’t?
For the remainder of that day, I kept thinking about women, education, and relationships, and this mode of thought that is adopted by young men. According to the driver and his educated son, women are making a choice early in life . They are forced to decide before they turn 18 whether they choose to be educated working women or mothers and wives. If this is the trend unfortunately the choices these women are making are irreversible.

The 17 year old getting engaged before even finishing her school education, is only to be equipped to be a mother, and that is strictly in the biological sense, since psychologically she is still too young. If she eventually grows up which she probably will, she may change her mind and decide to get an education.

Then , what will her dashing “husband to be” think? I wonder will he accuse her of changing and of becoming “The educated woman with too many opinions”
What is unfair in this dilemma is that those same men who want the uneducated uncomplicated woman also want her to be a good mom, a mom able to help her kids with their school work amongst other things. So, how equipped is this young 17 year old to do that? Will she be able to be a good mom when she herself is a child?

They want her to prepare a good meal, keep a clean house, and look young and refreshed, and appealing for her other marital duties. But wait a minute, we only spoke about what the men want. What about the women and what they want? If she says what she wants then she is a woman with too many opinions.

So, one may argue that this type of man doesn’t want a simple woman. He wants a woman incapable of wanting anything of her own. He wants a woman who wants to only make this man happy. Making her powerless and unable to be on her own is the best way for him to achieve this goal. She is his and only his, since she had not seen enough of the world to be anything else, to do anything else, to know anything else.

What is also ironic is that these men have been to universities where they had female colleagues. The driver even said “ You know my son saw so much in university. He met women, dated women, and he saw that the educated woman is too open minded” .

Open minded here may mean anything from being a non-hijab wearer to being a girl dating a different guy every week, to being a girl clubbing all night, to being a straight A student, or God forbid to occasionally disagree with what is being fed to her by professors.

So, I can’t help but ask how many people in our society think this way? Does this mean that maybe many educated women are still single because they have opinions. Maybe they are not settlers for anything, and maybe god forbid they know how to be cooks, cleaners, mothers, and career women .

Do some men fear having a partner, real partner, and not someone they can just dominate.
These women with minds can also be educators of daughter with open minds, but in doing that are they aware that they are dooming many daughters to be single because of men who can not see beyond their bellies .

Did these men with such egotistical views come from families where their mothers who might have also gotten married at 17 before continuing their education tell them that an educated woman has too many opinions? Are they then going to raise daughters who want to get married and then avoid educations, and is this going to be the dilemma we live through one generation after the next until we wipe out any hope for any girl with an education to get married.

What is really sad is that we live in the 21st century and as always we still have this confusion when it comes to gender roles. We have men who want ignorant women for wives and yet these ignorant women are to raise the men and women of the future. We have educated women who can think for themselves but who also want their right to be moms , to love and be loved while having careers, and finally we have men who want an educated woman but who doesn’t want to work in case God forbid she doesn’t prepare the food on time, and we do have a few men who understand that education vs. marriage and family are not two separate choices.

Is the world this clear cut, are women really forced to choose between marriage and education?
What do you think?-

For Free?

Posted by dshalabi in 09. Jul, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

When we consider the words for free, and when we see them attached to any product or service, linguistically we are to believe that this product or service is offered for nothing in return. Of course this is only the case in an ideal world, but in our world the case is different.

I don’t know if I had been too nice, too trusting, or too naive to ever believe that anything is for free, but now my views of the words “For Free” changed. This summer has really been a wake up call for me, making me honestly believe that our world is a selfish one, one that has no place or spot for the innocent words “for free”. Maybe this wake up call is coming to me too late in life, after three decades of living in total oblivion, but anyway as most people say it is better late than never to learn.

Many incidents in life may teach you the fact that the words “for free” are not for us, not for our world, and really not for our lifetime, but nothing screams this lesson, more loudly or clearly then volunteerism or the drive to work on a good cause. My harsh lesson in the absence of the word “for free” in their true sense started about a month and half ago , on the very first week that me and some fellow volunteers decided to have a stand in souk Jara and for the very good cause of raising funds for our voluntary project of teaching English to refugees from Gaza Camp in Jerash . It was on that very first week that we got our first dosage of the fact that nothing in life is for free, as the very person who made our cause logo created a scandal because we didn’t put his phone number on the logo he did for us “for free”.

We learn from this simple lesson that the logo was not for free at all, instead it was a means to abuse a cause in return for personal publicity.

The lesson didn’t stop there, as the weeks went by, the number of volunteers working with us on the cause diminished with time. The very people who made endless promises to help for free and in the name of their belief in the good cause started making excuses not to show up to our stand, or our classes, proving once again that their commitment to the cause was not at all for free but rather it was one based on the promise for free fun at Jara.

At this point I do have to say that this last statement does not apply to all volunteers working on the cause, but rather to those who simply disappeared from the picture the minute things got tough.

Unfortunately, the second group, i.e. those who do stick around for free are few, as they represent a minority in the world who still believe in the need to occasionally do something good and seriously for free, and not for personal gain, publicity, a photo on facebook, or praise in the paper.

Speaking of praise in the paper, it is amazing what people would do just to see their name in print.
In fact, a whole discipline has been created based on this understanding . Leading corporations around the world have abused good causes just for the sake of the printed world, a logo on a charity program, or a logo in lights. Agencies have benefited from the very corporations abusing the good cause, and employees have made livings out of positioning companies as adopters of good causes.

After all, would a company go green simply because it wants to green? Would an entity take it upon itself to sponsor a cancer treatment center because it seriously believes in treating the terminally ill? Would a Company sponsor a fun day for the orphans , the refugees, or the poor because it really cares about them? I would safely say that the answer to all these questions is no.

Companies will only do these noble deeds if and only if they are mentioned in the papers , in the media, and in the society at large as socially responsible entities. Their managers would use such deeds as opportunities to make long winded speeches about the company believing in helping the community as cameras go clicking and journalists scribble the news in the background.
This harsh reality has even given birth to the term CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) where companies help the less fortunate not for free but rather for publicity.CSR firms and agencies have even been launched to match corporations with the good cause that gives them the most publicity, proving once again that nothing in life is for free.

It is the power of CSR that would enable a Children’s Museum to take in a group of kids from refugee camps “For free”, shooting the words” for free” out of the window the minute they kick those very kids out after only an hour of getting there. If the deed was really for free, the kids would have been allowed to stay longer, but of course nothing in life is for free. The Museum would get its publicity but after the publicity was gained the kids well being doesn’t matter anymore. The paying customer becomes the priority, and the free deed becomes a distant memory.

So, yes nothing really in life is for free. Money talks, and those who do believe in doing good for the sake of doing good are but a few lost individuals searching for their space in a world governed by selfishness.

Dear Readers

I hasn’t ‘t been blogging for the last month and half because I was busy but i miss blogging so I am back

The People Are Only Poor in Ramadan and the Refugees All Come From Syria !

Posted by dshalabi in 15. Jul, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

Before you continue reading, I have to warn you that this is a very opinionated piece. Many readers will not like what I have to say but my case of verbal diarrhea or in this case typing diarrhea compels me to spill out a horrifying truth.

You see, in our wonderful image driven community, it is not uncommon to find acts of Good Will that are driven by a certain season, a certain group, or a certain idea and not by the simple desire to do something worthwhile.
With the holy month of Ramadan just around corner, this scenario is on the rise. Now, many people hunt for the right charity to pursue.

Companies start drafting press releases about their big charity initiatives, and organizations like JCI, Tkiyet Um Ali, and the Rotery start making elaborate plans to carry out initiatives to help the less fortunate. Refugee camps receive donations, and Facebook pages flood with calls for donations. Of course, all this is good, as indeed, it is wonderful to benefit a fellow human being, as there is no time limit for charity.

See this is just it, we can’t put a time limit on charity, but our community does just that. When everyone wants to feed the orphans during Ramadan, and everyone wants to give out food packages throughout the holy month, to play with needy children , only to disappear when the month finishes then yes we are putting a time limit on charity . Come first day of Eid al Fitr and a good portion of those very people who advocated the good cause will only switch back to their lifetime pursuits.

On the one hand, I realize that the periodic seasonal givers did good by giving the needy a taste of good consideration, but on the other hand, they snatched the good life from the needy by their sudden disappearance on the first day of Eid.

With our periodic seasonal acts good will, what we are doing is that we are simply. giving those needy people what they are missing, allowing them to enjoy it , and then snatching it away from them when we disappear on the first day of Eid. Let us think about this for a second, isn’t that more evil than doing nothing at all?

The “religious” people or shall I say the “Seasonal Sheikhs” of the 30 days of Ramadan only, say that God will reward them for their acts of good will,. Some of these “Seasonal” Sheikhs say the reward is 10 times greater in Ramadan than it is on any other given day, others say it is 20 times greater, and a third group says it is 100 times greater, and the number varies from one “Seasonal Sheikh” to the next, here the term seasonal Sheikh is used to refer to the person who suddenly becomes religious in Ramadan and only during the 30 days of Ramadan.

So then, I guess it is the numbers that have compelled the seasonal sheikhs to increase the dosage of good will in Ramadan, and it is this analogy gets me to wonder if those people are trying to make a business deal with Good (Good Forbid). Do they really think they can make a deal with God in which they say “I will be good in Ramadan so you can reward me”?.

If yes, the let us ask this, Isn’t God too important and too big for business deals? because obviously we can’t fool God since he is all knowing and all seeing. Or is it that God is not even important to those people but their social image is , and this is what they are improving through seasonal charity in a society governed by labels ?

Having spoken about God, I must point out that I personally may not be religious in our society’s judging sense. and I can’t concentrate on the whole process of prayer for ten seconds straight, so I may not be the best resource on religion, and that is why I don’t preach religion. However, and within my limited capacities, I do know this, I know that, if a person is doing charity only in Ramadan for some unwritten hope to be rewarded by God then this person isn’t fooling anyone and definitely he/she isn’t fooling God.

If a person is doing good in Ramadan only to be recognized in society by the pictures he/she puts on Facebook, and his/her tweets on twitter, then this person is only recognized by the few pretentious pathetic people that share similar ideals.

Another practice that is seen in our society is the selective sense of charity. If a cause is in the media, then the biggest corporations and the most affluent members of society fight over who is going to give the cause more. And in our society today, the most fashionable charity this summer is the Syrian cause and the hardship of the Syrian refugees, as if every other person in society is doing great and the Syrians are the only poor people around.

Now at this point I want to point out that I do feel for the Syrians, and yes a child is a child and no child deserves to suffer regardless of his/her origin, but seriously what about the other poor people? What about the Palestinian refugees?, the Iraqi refugees?, the physically and mentally challenged?, the orphans?, and the victims of child abuse?, the drug addicts?, the terminally ill?, The victims of rape and sexual harassment? , The victims of child labor?, The victims of child trafficking? Did all these people solve their problems so that the Syrians are now the only people worth working for ?

I ask this question because I run a charity project that doesn’t target Syrians and it is harder for me to get donations as some people tell me they are busy supporting the Syrians. Let us go back to God for a second, did God say support one group at a time? The answer is definitely no! But again the trendy charity is the Syrian cause these days and again very few people do charity for charity, or for God whom they use for a back up for their pretentiousness.

Let us all think for a second and remember that people are not only poor and hungry in Ramadan, the refugees are not all from Syrian, and guess what yes God is too big for you to fool. Society is not worth your posing, and if your image is the drive for you to do good, then don’t do good, stuff a bag take a photo near it in your bedroom and write on facebook that you donated clothes to the poor. Just take a moment to ask ourselves this, why are you doing charity? And who really has to know about it?
Happy Ramadan to you all

Note
This note targets the pretentious people it is by no means a generalization, as society is also full of people who do good for the sake of doing good , people who understand the real truth behind acts of good will. If this article offends you then really look at your actions, blame yourself not the article.

Do you Believe in Gender Equality?

Posted by dshalabi in 19. Jul, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

Sorry readers here is another very opinionated piece not all of you are going to like.

Yesterday, at a Toastmaster meeting, we were asked if we believe in Gender equality. Most people replied no while a few heroes replied yes. You see, when you are asked such a question you can not . but have a strong stand one way or the other. Those who said no, defended themselves by saying females can’t do the same jobs as males, and males can’t do the same jobs as females. Having said that, I can’t help but wonder is equality about being identical?

Linguistically speaking ,equality is a term referring to fairness and lustfulness. If we are talking about gender then , yes it refers to both genders getting the same level of respect, the same level of consideration, and the same freedom of choice. The term does not refer to both genders doing the same jobs, a defense most people use to justify their lack of belief in gender equality.

To those saying blatantly that they don’t believe in gender equality, I ask, are you really saying that women should not be respected, treated fairly, or given the same rights of choice as their counterparts, the men because this and only this is what Gender equality is all about. When we talk about Gender equality, we are not debating whether or not a woman should be lifting boxes, working as a builder, or fighting gorillas. If she wants to do that, like men who want to be cooks, hair dressers, or makeup artists, she has the equal right to choose.

But guess what, most women realize they don’t want to lift heavy furniture, become builders, or work in coal mines. Most women are well aware of their physical differences to men. They want to be women, to look like women and to do jobs their physique enables them to do, and to excel in fields they choose to excel in based on their well defined mental and physical differences. More importantly, most women are turned off by men who act like women, do jobs that are of a more feminine nature, and who secretly dream of baring children.

While people defend their lack of belief in gender equality by saying women are weaker than them, they forget the simple fact that women give birth, a process that also requires physical and emotional strength in one. It is this misconception that has given rise to a belief that the term “feminine” refers to lack of intelligence, shallowness, and silliness. What people don’t realize is that being feminine isn’t the same as being inferior . A woman wanting to be feminine, is not a woman wanting to be stupid. She is a woman, embracing her feminine nature, just like guys are guys, they are masculine. Feminine and masculine are just two personas, equal in every sense, but different.

To the men and women in our society shunning Gender Equality by saying women are different to men, I assure you that as women, we realize we are feminine and different. We want our painted nails, our nice hair, and our girly voices. We want to leave the house looking pretty smelling good and feeling good about ourselves. We want to adopt careers that adhere to our feminine side, a side we realize is different to that of men, and some of us want to be mommies and to make our childhood games of house a reality. As young girls ,we wanted to play tea party, to pretend to be our moms, and to have dolls that we dressed up as if they were our daughters. As teenagers, we watched chick flicks and we drooled over the good looking movie star, or even the guy next door . Our brothers secretly read adult magazines, played football, and drooled over an actress or even the girl next door. At an early stage in life, we realize that men and women are different.

So, are men and women not equal because they can’t do the same jobs, I say Women , most probably are not asking to be identical to men, but they are indeed asking to be respected as much as men, treated with the same level of consideration as men and to be embraced in society like their male counterparts.

What people don’t realize is that the minute they say men and women are not equal they are saying one gender is inferior to the other. So, again the question was about gender equality, and not if men and women are the same. Men and women are not the same. They don’t want to be the same, in most cases, but they are equal. They deserve the same level of respect, consideration, and fair treatment.

At the end of the day, it really is a question of figuring out what you are really being asked first before you come up with excuses as to why men and women are not equal. In closing men and women are equal, they are just not identical and in most cases, they don’t want to be. Should they be given equal rights, of course they should be given the equal right to respect, consideration and acknowledgment regardless of whether or not they can or can not do the same jobs.

Who fills in our timelines?

Posted by dshalabi in 21. Jul, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

When you are above the age of 30 ,in a society like ours where it is all about the numbers, the plan, and what you should or shouldn’t be doing, you are bound to find yourself in a situation where you would feel out of place.

I was hit by this feeling a few months ago, when I was invited to attend a reunion with my friends, a group of girls , whom I had originally met at a much younger age, and whom now were all married. After exchanging pleasantries, they asked me the eternal question “So are we going to be celebrating anything soon, do we hear wedding bells?”. I replied “Nope no wedding anytime soon”. And, with that reply, I immediately went from funny , nice personality , smart Dana to poor Dana. The girls started treating me like some pity case for being the only single girl there. One of them told me, “You are a fabulous girl and the guys are all blind” with genuine sympathy in her eyes . Another one said ” You know, every girl gets married, my relative married at 40 and she is so happy, don’t worry” . It was at that point that I had to tell her ” Who said I was worried”, and she replied “You really shouldn’t be many guys are marrying older girls”. I then shocked her further and said “Who told you I am waiting for just any guy to accept me, what about me accepting him regardless of his age. Don’t I get a say in this issue?” .Another girl said, with all knowing intelligence “Guys are scared of strong girls” as if she were telling me, I am too strong and that I should change. Not having the energies to reply, I was thrilled to know that that was the closing remark strong and powerful enough to put an end to the portion of the evening that was about me.

From that point on, the conversation revolved around house help, and how maids should be tamed. One of the ladies spoke about how her maid cheats in the housework. The other spoke about how her maid is friends with other maids and how she spreads the family secrets, a third spoke about how her mother in law spoils the maids, and when the group saw me maintain my silence, they looked at me as one of them said “Oooh you don’t get what we go through with maids.”Another one then asked “So, tell us Dana what is new with you?”. I said “Well I just got a better job” and their was silence until one of the girls said “That is nice dear, I don’t have time with the kids to worry about a job” and all the other girls agreed with her, as if in their agreement they were telling me they have time for more “Important” things.
As the hour went by, I found myself in a place where I just had to defend myself . I don’t know why, but at the time, I just felt that I had to prove that my life was just as important. So, at the first instance of silence I said “ummmmmmmmm, I also run a project where we help refugees from Gaza camp” . To that remark one of the girls replied “That’s nice dear”, as she and the rest of the girls then shut me off completely to talk about a new cheese cake recipe that involves less calories.

It was then that I realized that me and this particular group have very little in common. The days when we used to laugh about stupid jokes, sing along to stupid songs, and plan movie nights were over. They were simply married, and unable to fit into their lives their unmarried counterparts.

For the rest of the evening , I remained quiet . And, when I arrived home I couldn’t help but wonder if those women, like the rest of the society, were actually judging me. I realized for sure that they automatically registered my life as being insignificant. My job to them was unimportant, my charity work was not worth talking about but a cheese cake was.

It was on this evening that I realized that society does create for us a barrier between the married and unmarried. But then I remembered that I do also have other married friends whom didn’t really change. I guess those were the people who just decided to break the barrier.

The issue of society’s judgment just seems to go deeper than marrage . It just seems that society has this secret need to timeline our lives from the day we are born, and to judge us from the day we are born for deviating from this timeline. If a baby is dark skinned it isn’t as adorable as a blonde baby. If the baby talks and walks after the neighbors’ baby then that is reason for panic. If you don’t get good grades in Tawjihi and your cousin does then you have missed a year in college and the whole world tumbles over. If you graduate and don’t find a job immediately then you are a failure. If a woman does get married and she doesn’t get pregnant immediately then she has to run to the gynecologist in case she has problems, and if she doesn’t get married at all then her life is just not worth mentioning The list just goes on from there, making people panic for not checking all the milestones they need to achieve in their lives.

To those girls I probably was five or six years late according to the timeline. I missed out on talking about the maid, the food, the husband, and the teething baby. If this is the case, then doesn’t society stop to wonder what the people who didn’t stick to the timeline are doing. God Forbid , could they actually be happy? The answer is no, as this is something we owe ourselves to do. It is only our job to drown out the voices, the looks of pity, the pointless remarks, and to really evaluate our lives regardless of society’s opinions.

Who judges when we should or shouldn’t do something in our life, or when the time is right? The answer is us. Our life quality doesn’t depend on the opinions of our friends, our society, or our family’s approval. In simple terms, we should stop making society fill in our timeline on earth, this is something we should to for ourselves.

Waiting Your Turn, A Felony or a Right?

Posted by dshalabi in 25. Jul, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

Before going to work this morning, I passed by the bank to finish some long overdue paper work. Being the exemplary citizen I am, I grabbed a number from the machine and sat in one of the plastic seats to wait my turn.

A few seconds later an older woman walked into the door and asked the guy at the door “Do we really have to take a number?”. “Yes you do” said the fasting guy at the door as he hardly even bothered to look in her direction. “Well” she said “We Jordanians pretend to be organized when we are not” as she strutted to a plastic seat next to mine and sat herself down. A few minutes later she asked me “Since when do we have to take a number in the bank?”. Trying to put things in perspective for her I replied “Isn’t it better than standing in line ?”. Ignoring my comment she asked “What is your number”. “ 15 “ I replied as I took out a book to read while I wait . :”I don’t see 15 people here , see I told you they were cheats”.

At that point I really wanted to tell her that she was an idiot and that the number 15 probably means that 15 people came since the morning, and that she was having a dramatic episode when there are only 2 or 3 people in front of us. However, I figured it was way too early to have such a conversation with someone who obviously isn’t that smart, so I simply replied “I don’t know”.

Just then, the bank door opened yet again, but this time it let in a Barbie look alike. With big bleached hair, tight pants, and bright pink lipstick , purple eye shadow, and 8 inch heals she walked up to the guy at the counter, neglecting the need to take a number, and said “Good morning, can I withdraw JD 100 from my account”.

Her florescent nail polish and soft voice failed to attract the guy behind the counter who almost mechanically asked, “Do you have a number?”. She smiled and said “Do I need a number?”. The guy at the counter replied “ Yes Madam, you do”. “I am a miss not a Madam” she softly said . Ignoring her further the guy said “Yes miss you need a number”. “But I am in a hurry” she moaned, yet these moves didn’t seem to work to her favor either. Seeing his dead expression of indifference, she walked over to the machine and pulled a number.

Angrily sitting next to me she asked “Can I go before you” . I looked at her and said “I am in a hurry”. “What do you have?” she asked. Refusing to take this conversation further I said “Personal work”. She replied “But someone is waiting for me outside I am really in a hurry”. At that point, I couldn’t help but reply “Oh and we are not, we are just enjoying the view of the sea from the bank seats as we relax in the sun.”. . My obvious sarcasm awns;t getting my point across. She said “But…”, and I interrupted” You know what lady, I am late to my job but I am waiting my turn just as l am supposed to. You don’t have to cause a melodrama. Just wait your turn”

“You don’t have to be so rude” she said , just as The machine called my number. I finished the paper work and then I left, but on my way to work I couldn’t help but wonder who exactly is rude in this situation ? Am I really the rude one for going by the rules , or are the two ladies in the bank who blatantly asked to be exempted from the rules the rude ones ?. Since when, is going by the rules a bad thing.

Are we rude for asking to be given the right treatment and not giving special treatment or are we rude when we ask not to be treated like the rest? What is it with Jordanians and their feeling of insult when told to wait their turn or even stand in line. Why is it that people get a kick out of skipping the line.

Have our lives become so empty? Has our inferiority complex become so great, that we can only feel important by not going by the rules?

I ask again, in the situation above, who exactly is rude? With one last thought, people of Jordan it is ok to stand in line and wait your turn.

Your Wall, Your Blog, Your Privacy?

Posted by dshalabi in 29. Jul, 2012, under society, people, and life in Amman

With the social media revolution inviting us to freely express our opinions, social change is bound to happen. And, as we digitally highlight the moments that define our lives, anecdotes from our personal thoughts inevitably become more public. Our personal information is all out there for the whole world to see. Whether it is in our clearly stated birthdays , our relationship statuses, our photos, our statuses, our tweets, or our opinionated web blogs, we are spilling our guts online all the time. So, what does all this mean? Does this mean that we have all become more transparent as people?
What is inevitably true is that the line between what is private and what is public had defiantly started to fade. Now, you can even locate where someone is via Smartphone let alone go online to know what they are thinking and what they are saying to whom. While all this is good, our thinking still didn’t catch up with this change.

Some people still speak of their Facebook wall as being private. Others still speak of their status as being only their business. Friends may even complain amongst themselves if someone viewed the photo albums which they have placed on Facebook. Whether we like it or not, we tend to react negatively if someone negatively commented on our online activities, and yes we all probably heard complaints from friends who didn’t want the world to know of their new job, their secret visit to a country, an outing they decided to exclude a friend from, or their new home when these very people complaining had filled their Facebook timelines with photos and statuses about the very issue they wanted to keep secret.

So, do such complaints earn any merit? Is there such a thing as your wall or your private space on the social media network? The answer is no, because in real life the minute we say something, write something , or post something publicly we are opening up ourselves to public opinion. We are free to bash any idea we want on our social media networks, but we are not really free to expect no one to comment about it. As responsible adults we often learn that we hold full ownership for what we say and do, and within this responsibility we have to expect the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes as a direct result of our action.

The cold harsh reality is that our Facebook or twitter pages are not really our private spaces. They are our space to express opinions but they are for the public to see and discuss those opinions in the way they see fit.
We have all caught that person who randomly comments on our photos even if we saw him/her twice in our lives, but then again we have no right to complain because we placed our photos for that person and everyone in our network to see. If we really had problems with people getting into our private business, we can adjust our privacy settings or better still not put our private business online. While we have the right to complain if someone went into our drawers and read the private thoughts we had recorded, we don’t have the right to complain if someone hated or held us responsible for a blog we had posted online. We can’t really say people misunderstood us, because every member of the public has the right to understand our words the way he/she sees fit.
We cannot really say people are stalking us on Facebook, when we are opening ourselves up for stalking, and there is no such thing as “You shouldn’t have found out about it” when the issue we shouldn’t have found out about” is all over the social network.

So, the problem isn’t really with the Facebook ticker you see at the side of the newsfeed, or the timeline that records everything you do by day, or the photos that are on public setting until you make them private, or the status or the blog that received negative feedback, the problem is with us and the way we expect to publicly interact online while secretly hoping that our interactions are invisible.
If we have photos online that place us in compromising positions then we put them there and we are responsible for putting them there. So, to all those who claim that Facebook is an invasion of privacy, I say no you are invading your own privacy, To all those saying people are reading my statuses or are spying on me, I say no you are making your private business public.

I learned this lesson a long time ago and that is why I am an opinionated blogger, an active opinionated Facebook user, and I have nothing online that is for no one to see. If an issue is private it really isn’t online for you to see. It is an issue hidden by me in my privacy where it belongs.

So ya the social media isn’t private it is very public Get Over It !

Note
This note is especially dedicated to people who still get upset if someone didn’t like a post by them or a photo put online by them

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