What do we care about?

Aside from the high profile political stories that have been dominating social media and the Meidoon trend waves, a number of smaller, more local stories have surfaced in the past few weeks in Iran.

Two stories have slowly unfolded on social media, each at their own speed, each in their own way, and each garnering their own kind of attention online.

The first is a story of animal cruelty. Earlier last week, a video of street dogs being killed by lethal injections of acid went viral on Facebook. The video can only be described as horrific and cruel. Shortly after the spread of the video, protests took place in many major cities across Iran. The protestors, wearing orange ribbons, called for the prosecution of the perpetrators, but so far, no arrests have been made. The Municipal Government of Shiraz, who was first said to be responsible for ordering the killings, is also denying responsibility.

Reza Ghaderi/IRNA

The second story, one that unfolded into more bizarre story, took root shorty after Monday of this week. A young couple were driving through Tehran at speeds guessed around 200 km/h, in a Porsche. Bad fortune turned this late night drive into a deadly trip for Parivash, the 23 year old driver, and Mohammad Hossein Rabbani, the grandson of a famous cleric. Soon, the accident became a phenomena for all the wrong reasons.

The story has gained a lot of attention, not all of which was positive. After the name of the victims of the crash was released, people took what looked like the frustrations of a lifetime, to social media. Negative comments, hate and anger now pollute the young girl’s Instagram and Facebook pages. Many have expressed happiness about the fact that two “rich kids” are dead. On social media, the complaints of the young victims’ “snobbery” and “immodesty” spread fast. Railing against the two young adults, many say such people deserve such deaths.

The public reaction to the accident has been revealing of an underlying problem in the Iranian society. The recent economic conditions, which include high unemployment and inflation rates, sanctions which have pushed many deep into poverty, and deals that have brought tremendous wealth to others, lead only to anger and deep frustration in people as the wealth disparity widens. With this in mind, it might be easy to see why the eruption of rage followed after people got a glance at the pictures of her life of luxury and glamour on her social media pages.

What happened to Parivash was cruel. But there is another point to consider here: how we pick our battles? While some stories remain quiet on the world of social media, at Meidoon, we watch them all go by, rising and falling in numbers and voices, in Likes and in Shares. A sampling of a week of trending stories reveals the deepest and most intricate worries, the joys and the anxieties of Iranian people who stay tuned as the world negotiates on their fate. How do we forget to form campaigns for political prisoners, for expatriates who hope to return to their homes only to be arrested, for self immolation of the poor (2 cases in the last month in Tabriz and Ahwaz), and easily gather to protest for stray dogs of another town,and express our voice in the loudest of ways about a young girl’s car crash? We ask the same questions and continue to watch the trends to find our answers.

Written by Arta, Trend Analyst at ASL19, for meidoon.com : Joint project between the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, and ASL19

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