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Photo: wackystuff (flickr); Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

Our editor Isabell Wutz points you in the direction of a few essays and articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about the underrated danger of social media in times of terrorisms, how different languages change personalities, and how a young Chinese swimmer reminds everyone what the Olympic Games really are about. 

Isabell, Sixth Sense and Legs editor

isabell

 The underrated danger of social media news in times of terrorims

Almost two months ago an 18year-old man shot several people at a Munich shopping mall. Not long after the news spread, my phone started buzzing with several texts from friends and family living in the city assuring me of their safety. At this point little was known about the incident but the rumour mill was already in overdrive. It was then a friend messaged me, asking if my family was alright concluding with the sentence: “I would have guessed that it catches Berlin or Cologne first…crazy times”. Here I realized how dangerous unfiltered information and speculation can be, especially on publicly accessible social media channels. Interpreting events on the grounds of only a few confirmed facts and much uncertain information can lead us to premature conclusions and as seen in the case of Munich, fear, panic and false accusations. Particularly, in these, well-described, “crazy times”, people tend to quickly condemn situations without having the required knowledge, and thereby we contribute to creating and spreading potentially false narratives online for everyone to see and believe. 

Thursday, 25 August 2016 16:36

My European Bookshelf: Shakespeare to Calvino

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 3320452655 be4c49997c zPhoto: jvoves (Flickr); Licence CC BY 2.0 

What is Europe? Is Europe more a geographical, cultural, political or economic concept? What defines the European identity? These are all questions E&M has pondered from the very beginning, and over the years we’ve come up with many very different answers. Indeed, our vision of what Europe is and should be is influenced by many factors. With this new regular feature, My European Bookshelf, we wanted to consider one of those factors: literature. In this space, E&M has invited young Europeans to share the books that have shaped their understanding and perception of Europe. 

The idea of this column —to be written by someone new each time — is that on our bookshelves we keep an idea of Europe. Over days and weeks and months of reading we travel across borders we might never even dream of in real life. I've written about a few examples of (at times only vaguely) European writing and why I feel they're important; if you're scratching around for something good to read, this list might be a start. You see, on my bookshelves, there are many versions of Europe, from the bloody and historical to the whimsical, the factual, and the symbolic. It is worth noting too, that I have used this space to write what I can only describe as a literary prescription: at least some of these books will be good for your soul. 

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Photo: duncan c (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0

Europe is on the edge. Brexit, the anti-democratic developments in Eastern Europe with authoritarian governments in Poland and Hungary, and the rise of the far-right in Germany with the AfD and Pegida movement as well as in France (Front National) anticipate the imminent collapse of the European Union as the biggest peace project in our common history. Nevertheless, in all the debates on which direction our continent and the world should take, the political elite ignores young people. They fail to recognise that they cannot set the course for the future without paying attention to those who will be most affected by today’s decisions.

The rise of the far-right is symptom of a lack of political alternatives with one big loser: young people.
Nigel Farage
Photo: European Parlament (flickr) Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A few weeks ago, in Brussels, an unpopular fellow named Nigel Farage flouted his Brexit victory in the face of his fellow Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). After boos from Europeans of many persuasions, Martin Schulz reminded the MEPs that “a major quality of democracy is you listen to those even if you don’t share their opinion.” British and American “liberals” are aghast that such tolerance would take place.

“Is that what democracy’s about? I thought it was about protecting the institutions of the EU, no matter what the people say,” a Labour supporter in London reported to your correspondent. He declined to be named for this article, describing himself as “a voice of the people.” When asked if the votes of 52% of British citizens should be overruled, he said, “Yeah, that’s right.”

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