Facebook Intellectuals

Nada Faris
5 min readApr 16, 2023

Taste of Jamaica, September 2012

With Ayana Ashanti, CEO of Taste of Jamaica, September 2012

This is an edited version of the spoken word poem that was first performed at Taste of Jamaica in September 2012.

Once upon a time,
We had armchair intellectuals:

Gucci-covered individuals,
Gorging on their victuals.

Who read fancy phrases with philosophical traces,
And, while sipping on their ginger tea,
Intimated solutions for races.

Flicking specters of dust
From costly shoulder puffs,

Strutting and strolling
on sparkling garden turfs.

The elevated evocations
For utopian nations
Decanted from their mouths
without cessation.

They advocate lofty principles,
And the good of civilization,
Stressing an incredulity to grand narrations.


They called for revolutions,
For upheavals,
And barbarous executions.
Claiming blood for blood;
Captivity for pollution.

They cried in humanity’s name:
“Destruction to capitalism!”

And for the sake of restitution they claimed:
“Likewise to other notions.”

These know-it-alls used to sit on their desks
And bawl.

But now,
They go out taking pictures of misfortune,
to post them on their Facebook walls.

“Hey look,
The Bidun are getting pummeled in Jahra!”
“Support the cause!”

Now let me get this straight…
Do you really think you’re helping our brothers
— The Bidun —
By taking filtered photographs of your new hairdo,
And posting them on Instagram?

What a sham.

Or do you think that the amount of “likes” you’ll get
Will equate to the amount of people you “liberate”?

I know you call yourself an “academic”,
Because you’re in the middle of this pandemic,
Dodging the same batons,
Striking genuine underdogs?

I’ve got one question for you.

Have you actually succeeded in making
The government accede any of its decrees?

So, what are your accomplishments?
The enumeration of protests?

No wonder you lost your influence
In the Human Rights Organization.

But remember our conversation?
When I said that things were not so clearly
Black and white?

And just because I wasn’t engaged
In your discriminating battle,
Between heroes and villains,
You called me a cynic?

But you know what’s really ironic?
Is that these synchronic pedagogues,
With their Twitter accounts and blogs,
Loathe binary oppositions.

Remember their obsession
With gender divisions?
And how they reiterate
A post-structural mission?

One needs to ask the question, then:
Why in the world
Aren’t they abiding
by their own commission?

It’s a good one.


Humanism is conduct not final destination.

So everybody take a deep breath,
And think about the ramifications of
Not only of a single cause,
But of the big picture;
Because this isn’t a Marvel’s comic
And the government’ is not a homogenous unit,
It’s composed of people,
Some of whom are racists, yes
But others are stable.

If you don’t box them all in one label,
You can come upon more pathways
To achieve progress,

Unless you care more about
The way you look on Facebook…

Then enjoy being fake.

At the Slam Poetry events, poets often particpated with nicknames. For instance, the one in the picture was called PoeticSyren. Most of the Kuwaiti participants didn’t know that this was a thing so the MC often ended up giving us stage names. I was given the title: “Kuwait’s Finest.”
With John “Skywalker.”
With “Sons of Yusuf,” who ended up becoming popular Kuwaiti rappers. Most people don’t know that Abdurahman got his stage name “Humble Abdul” at this event.


Today’s piece is one of my earliest spoken word attempts. So, please forgive me.

At the time I wrote this piece in September of 2012 Kuwait was going through a difficult period. In terms of its content, I was frustrated because I saw a group of my university peers suddenly assume the mantle of human rights activism while seeming less interested in actively changing laws and more interested in presenting themselves online as supporters of a cause.

Laws change when one engages with the country’s political system.

Protests may push policy makers to rethink their laws but protests, themselves, do no rewrite anything in the legal sphere. They create openings that are often taken advantage of by those who do know their ways around political offices.

This is what I felt was missing from the burst of youthful and oppositional energy more than 10 years ago: it seemed that young adults had found their way to the street but not to political buildings where laws were made and unmade.

Moreover, I was trying to figure out how to write stage poetry when all I had been taught at the time was structured British verse (iambic pentameter, common measure, etc.). My only representation of spoken word at the time was rap music, which relied on sonic elements to generate affect and emphasize points, link arguments, and elaborate on social and political topics. Thus, I was drawing from Alexander Pope for inspiration on the one hand and Eminem on the other, relying heavily on internal and end rhymes to generate momentum and create an engine for the piece.

I even had a personal slogan back then: “I write to get back at people,” which the British Council featured in a 2014-piece they wrote about me after my performance at Shubbak Theatre in London.

Finally, I wrote this piece before my spiritual awakening (end of 2015), so I would definitely reframe my frustration today.

Back then, I used writing as a way to address my negative feelings, and ended up writing mostly combative, critical, or angry poems.

I don’t do this anymore because of my spiritual awakening and because I now think of art differently. I’ll leave this conversation for another post, but you can read some of my spiritual and tender poems here.

In the meantime, I understand where I was coming from a decade ago. I didn’t have anyone to teach me how to write differently.

Actually, a friend and I recently discussed that not only was this style of writing the only thing we knew how to do at the time, but there was an audience for it as well. Many of us were suffering in one way or another, so we turned to writing and stage poetry in general to put words to some of the thoughts and feelings we were experiencing, and others resonated with our emotionally charged words.

My friend and I also noted that the most recent event she hosted in 2023 included almost entirely tender and vulnerable expressions.

This led us both to believe that expressing anger in our poetry had helped keep us alive long enough to vent the negative feelings out of our systems, and that staying alive because of the community and sense of belonging that was being fostered, now allowed us to choose more vulnerable ways of relating.



Nada Faris

Kuwaiti writer interested in language, literature, identity, community, and creativity. Sharing notes from my 10-year journey.