16 May A Shoutout to Internet Freedom
If you are reading this once it posts, you know where I’m at. I am not going to fervently write my location quite yet, but it’s not hard to do your research.
I came back to this country because I love it. I love its people, its nature, its food… but mostly, its potential. There was something energetic and contagious about this city (that I’m currently in and have previously called home). I wanted to be a part of watching it blossom into the place I think it has the potential to become. Cool businesses were opening. There was an international scene here that was palpable. People used English lustfully. I knew it wasn’t perfect, but maybe, just maybe, this country could shake off the negative connotation that the last four letters of its name have imposed upon it. Or shake off that image that a movie filmed in Romania had plagued the country with for the last decade. Maybe I was giving a place that has been run by the same government and person for the majority of my life too much credit.
My May 2018 reality: I can’t access Facebook in the evenings. Sometimes it will ‘allow’ me, but it is painfully slow and as someone with the patience level of a five-year-old waiting on Santa Clause to deliver presents on Christmas Eve, I am surprised I even have a computer left and I haven’t tossed it out a window. I can’t access Youtube or even my Google email for hours during the day. Skype barely works. But thank goodness the horrible and vain world of Instagram works just fine. Apparently, I can’t oppose a government on that platform as easily as my Gmail. Got it. But Flickr doesn’t work. And according to a friend, Pinterest and Land’s End (yes, the geriatric clothing company from the United States) are blocked completely. My VPNs don’t work because the reduced wifi speeds are too weak. I can’t believe that for once, I am able to actually write something on this site. Because, that has, too, been blocked 80% of my time here.
This nonsense started around May 1. Human Rights organizations are clued in. This is an attempt to block government opposition based in Western Europe from reaching the people of this country with their videos and evening rhetoric reminding people of what they already know but are afraid to acknowledge. The deplorable internet freedom situation in this country is old news. But it isn’t getting better; it’s getting expeditiously worse. But not just that.
The expats are leaving. Ninety-five percent of the people aren’t getting wealthier. My favorite international shops have closed down. For every cool, new place opening in this city, other ones are closing down. People are speaking less and less English. And the people, in which I mean the locals, are starting to silently talk. Maybe it is time that they realize that the mentality of “It could be worse” doesn’t make things better for future generations or the current one. Maybe it is time for them to ask themselves “Is this as good as it actually gets for us?”
Shoutout to internet freedom and the ability to access the information you need, want, and desire to have. Some of it might be fake. Some of it might be inappropriate. But never take access to this information for granted because there are people who can’t even send a message on Facebook, look up a recipe on Pinterest, or even buy a pair of gardening Crocs on Land’s End.
I am spending another week here enjoying meeting my friends, frolicking in the astoundingly jaw-dropping nature of this country, and hoping that the next time I return I will be able to see the progress I had expected to see this time around but didn’t. I am heading south. If you know where I’m at now, you likely know where my next destination will be. ‘Til next time.
*By the end of writing this, the site became blocked.