Lebanon’s youth chat sessions… burial grounds for serial disappointment

Tuesday 13 September 202201:28 pm
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جلسات "فضفضة" الشباب في لبنان... ردمٌ للخيبات المتتالية

“Good night. Talk tomorrow” is the last sentence sent by one of the three friends on a WhatsApp group. Three friends who have met each other at university in 2020, while studying “Graphic Design”. It is a transition period that young people experience at the end of their education.

Sharing happy and sad moments

At first, Rabih, Ayman and Lisa did not find a lot in common, but today, their friendship has become a refuge in which they share all their happy and sad moments.

Rabih, 19 years old, is from a southern village and lives alone in Beirut since his academic years started. As a child, he had dreamt of design inspired by his interest in social media platforms specifically YouTube.

Ayman, who is 20 years old, lives in Mount Lebanon. He had accidentally chosen his major, because he was unable to determine what really interested him before enrolling in university. After he had taken some friends’ advice, he ended up taking design courses and obtained the degree that society requires.

Ayman has always been a loner. He is usually a secretive person who rarely shares what he is going through with those around him.

Lisa, a 20-year-old Palestinian, had lived all her life in Sidon. She excelled in High School and got the highest grades in the official exams. As a result, she got an acceptance to study in Greece, but the financial distress that Lebanon is going through prevented her from doing so. 

Rabih, Ayman and Lisa… Misfortunes unite

“I closed my eyes to escape from all the emotions that have heavily weighted on my day. Again, I started to have the ideas that haunt me every single night and to remember the memories that I have tried to forget for years,” says Rabih in every weekly therapy session.  

Every morning, he goes to work, designing visuals, he arrives an hour late because of his WhatsApp chats with Lisa and Ayman. Alone in his room, he tells them about his dismay the previous night and his waiting for the morning. He checks their daily plans and asks them about the time they will meet, for he has gotten used to seeing them almost daily. He resents the day that goes by without holding their chat sessions.

According to what he said to Raseef22, Rabih endures daily conflicts within his family: “I am still terrified of the house problems and all the screaming that I had experienced when I was a child. Perhaps I am searching for a father and a mother in my friends.”

The economic crisis that the Lebanese are going through is endless. Ayman, like other young guys, is barely handling the harsh situation. However, he is also undergoing a “stack” of crises. “The worst part of my day is waking up in the morning,” he says.

The economic pit the Lebanese are going through is bottomless. Ayman, like other young men, is barely managing the situation. He is also undergoing a “stack” of other crises. “The worst part of my day is waking up in the morning,” he says 

Ayman suffers from insomnia for reasons he ignores. Rabih and Lisa are still trying to convince him to seek therapy, but he is unable to pay for therapy sessions that have become so expensive.

He tries to escape from his parents who sometimes split up and other times try to hide their problems. 

The trust Ayman and his parents are trying to build have become almost impossible owing to the many disappointments he had experienced.

In his childhood, he was promised that his mother, from whom he had lived away because of his parents continuous disagreements, was coming back. Here he is today, looking for an immigration that will make him assume his “sole responsibility”, away from communication, transportation, education, and medical care crises.

The crisis of nationality

Besides what Rabih and Ayman are going through, Lisa wakes up every day to her dispersion and loss in Lebanon. Each time she applies for a new job in the graphic design field that she adores, she gets rejected, and her passion breaks again and again. She, who is born to a Palestinian father and a Lebanese mother, is going through a real identity crisis, just like those who were born in the same situation.

“I love Lebanon as much as I feel discriminated in it,” she repeats whenever the topic of giving citizenship to the children of a Lebanese mother is brought up. In fact, the mother's holding of the Lebanese nationality is not enough to pass it on to the children. This is a right that the mothers of Lebanon have been asking for several years, but the political and sectarian goals hinder its achievement. The 17 October revolution was disappointing for Lisa. She did not leave the streets and saw in the revolution a ray of hope, for the squares at that time have witnessed continuous demands of justice for people like her.

The three friends look a lot alike. They represent a smaller model of the Lebanese scene. Everyone was affected by the life crisis and the explosion of August 4th, and everyone has lost. Lisa, whom the Lebanese authorities have not provided with a sense of belonging, resembles Ayman and Rabih who are trying to gather the crumbs of the Lebanese identity and see immigration as their only remaining escape.

Lebanon’s youth have their goals broken and were betrayed

After their childhood and adolescence, individuals shift to the stage of productivity and self-realization. One seeks to realize the aspirations and dreams he had built in his mind since childhood. This personality develops in every age stage, either positively or negatively, according to the child’s parenting. If this parenting is normal, the individual will be strong and tough enough to face the crises he would face in life.

“People differ one from another according to the Principle of Individual Differences. Thus, their responses to pressure and events vary according to the way they were raised, their families, and the factors that affect them,” says Professor Helga Alaa El-Din who’s specialized in Personality Psychology and Positive Psychology.

This means that the individuals’ singularity is reflected in their way of acting and thinking and their emotions and social interactions. However, the circumstances that today’s young people are going through are similar.

A study conducted by Lebanon Crisis Observatory shows that in Lebanon, the country that has entered its third immigration wave, 77% of the youth thinks about immigrating and is seeking it. This rate has exceeded any other rate in the region.

Historically, since independence, the Israel invasions, the civil war, assassinations and the explosion of Beirut’s port, Lebanon has never experienced social or economic stability for long periods of time. Today, Lebanon endures a cold economic war that is suffocating the Lebanese people coupled with high immigration rates that prove that this war exists. In fact, a study conducted by Lebanon Crisis Observatory shows that in Lebanon, the country that has entered its third immigration wave, 77% of the youth thinks about immigrating and is seeking it. This rate has exceeded any other rate in the region.

In her discussion with Raseef22, Alaa El-Din points that Lebanon’s youth has lost all goals and has been betrayed in the midst of the consecutive crises. Due to the collapse and the rampant corruption, young people are unable to find employment. Even the minimum requirements of life are difficult to achieve. “The fact of being employed enhances the feeling of self-realization, self-sufficiency, being valuable and the satisfaction of achievement. It is not limited to financial sufficiency only,” says Alaa El-Din, who clarifies that the resemblance in the pressure endured by young Lebanese people makes them feel that they have no dignity, the fact that creates a feeling of injustice, guilt or failure.

The three friends alternately invite each other to spend an evening at their home in order to save the money they would have spent if they had gone out because of the “dollarized” costs in most cafes and restaurants. As for night club parties, they are limited to one or two times per month. In addition, the new phone calls cost that the Lebanese government has recently launched increasing the cost nearly four times has prolonged their chats on their WhatsApp group.

“Do you realize that they killed our dreams? We used to look forward to have our own cars when enrolling in university. Today, we wait for the price of fuel to decrease so that the taxi fees will be less expensive.” These words sum up the discussions of Rabih, Lisa and Ayman’s hangouts.

They compare their old expectations to their new ones that did not give them the chance to put their abilities into use. In fact, Lebanese people have reached the stage of emotional dullness and negative adaptation to circumstances, especially that they did not find alternative strategies so far and that it is difficult to find any in the short term. 

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