30 November 2020, Monday, 2:20
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Today We Meet in the Square

Today We Meet in the Square
Iryna Khalip

The Meeting of free people starts at 6 pm.

For many years in a row, the hero of the "Irony of Fate" Ippolit criticized Soviet viewers that they stopped getting into windows to their loved ones. The country where all this happened has long collapsed, Ippolit still roams around on post-Soviet TV channels, and his appearance ones take as nostalgia ("it was a good time, after all"), others take it on the contrary ("how long will it last?!"), and others do not remember what television is. By the way, none of them gets into windows.

If this film was shot today, I would offer Ippolit to speak with sadness, not about windows, but about the streets, people stopped arranging meetings on. No, we are not lost on social networks. Like all modern people, we are very active. We go to corporate parties and team building, fitness and presentations, seminars and conferences, movies and concerts. Our communication is a complete small talk format. Only being lost in the boundless world of social networks we sound eloquent and persuasive. We post long messages, get involved in discussions, and have an opinion on everything. We are increasingly irritated by those who propose to go beyond the Internet and continue the same thing but on the streets. We take this as a violation of privacy. We resist. We feel uncomfortable.

How else can we explain that for almost a week, everyone is running on the NEXTA film and the meeting in Freedom Square? They do run on, not discuss. It turns out that all this is wrong. There were few people. Politicians came, although they had no right because this is not their event. They wanted to show off at the expense of a popular young man from YouTube. The organization of the event was poor. And he has no program. It is not clear what he wanted. Old revolutionaries and these young teenagers-subscribers have different ways to follow. When the first set up tents on Kastrychnitskaya Square on a frosty night in 2006, the second ate semolina in the nursery. When the first ones were taken away to the pre-trial detention center on the same night of 2010, the second ones were getting ready for the New Year's party in kindergarten and were trying on costumes of bunnies and snowflakes. When the first went on silent protests, the second had their first pencil case bought. When the first ones participated in the marches of angry Belarusians, the second studied the multiplication table. At the end, when the first went to the square with portraits of the kidnapped and killed, the latter were not born yet. So they had nothing to do together. In general, there is no point in going somewhere in our high-tech age, when one can express an opinion without getting up from the computer. Or just texting on the phone.

This is our weak point. Everyone has their own opinion. Everyone, if you read websites of independent media or the newsfeed on social networks, has more than just an opinion - he knows exactly how to fight the dictatorship. Other people, who also know how to do it, answer him. After these virtual battles, everyone is sprawling out, feeling tired, but being still convinced of their truth and having no doubts about anything. No one will ever think of taking the opportunity to gather in the square and talk, to argue, to get acquainted, after all. What if Petrov and Vodkin, who had a scrap on the social network can suddenly find common ground when they meet on the street? What if they both have not utopian ideas, but quite feasible? What if a personal meeting is more interesting? What if their vision of future is the same?

One just needs to leave one's home. Do not set a task for tonight to change the power or start a revolution. Let it be a goal. And today's task is to make sure that personal communication is more interesting and effective than spilling out emotions on the Internet.

Let's just meet and talk first. Let's get acquainted. Let's give a hug. Let's agree on the next meeting. We can ask questions and start looking for answers together. We can realise that in the square we have a better chance to make a difference than in our kitchens. More precisely, we have a chance for it only in the square.

All this is what I'm talking about. Today, at 6 pm, let's go to the Meeting of free people on Kastrychnitskaya Square. Otherwise, we will be persecuted and blamed by Ippolit till the end of our days. And we will have nothing to say to him.

Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org