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Letter bombs and flaming arguments

My big fat Greek week

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People pay last respects to former Greek prime minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis during a funeral service at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Athens, Greece, on May 31, 2017. Konstantinos Mitsotakis passed away on Monday at the age of 98. Photo: Xinhua/Marios Lolos

02 June 2017

We all are a bit different on Facebook than what we are in real life.
Which partly explains the appeal and success of social media.
Hidden behind the relative safety of our device and the suggestive imagery of our selected avatar/profile pic, we gain confidence to engage in heated debate on… pretty much everything.
And when it comes to the Greek public sphere, the term 'heated' debate is an understatement.
'Scorching' would be more likely.
Imagine the 'return' button on your keyboard being attached to a flame-throwing device.
If Greek Facebook was an actual place, it would have been burnt down now.
First, Greeks started debating over a song; a 'one-shot' music video showing emerging singer-songwriter Marina Satti deliver her traditional-greek-music-infused r'n'b hit 'Mantissa', which became viral, much to the horror of some people doubting her talent and the song's merit.
Some said that she bought the five million views her video has on YouTube.
Who says that?
Well, for one, the same kind of people who dismiss Cannes Film Festival - the biggest of its kind - for giving the best screen award to Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou, for 'The Killing of the Sacred Deer'.
These are people who were cheering for those who booed the film, during its screening to the press.
So, it is no wonder that some cheered when former Greek PM Lucas Papademos was injured by a bomb-parcel which exploded in his car.
The former governor of the Bank of Greece and former vice president of The European Central Bank was called to form a provisional government to oversee the details of the first bailout program of the Greek economy.
Many in Greece still believe that this coalition government did not have the mandate to do such a thing.
Even seasoned journalists went out on facebook to express their support to this act of violence, and claiming that other politicians and bankers should be on the receiving end of such explosive correspondence.
Would they have said the same, had Papademos been killed by the bomb? Who knows.
This debate came to a halting end by the actual death of another Greek PM, one validated by the voters.
Konstantinos Mitsotakis, 99, former leader of Nea Dimokratia, died on Monday, surrounded by his extended family. During his lifetime, Mitsotakis was one of the most controversial politicians in modern history, but you'd be forgiven to think the opposite, judging by the eulogies that dominated the public sphere this week.
Respecting and honouring the memory of the deceased is a long-time Greek tradition, but Greeks this week started exaggerating the late PMs legacy, whitewashing all controversial elements of his political career.
A relative of Eleutherios Venizelos, the Mitsotakis name is synonymous with nepotism, having two children serving as MPs and ministers and a Grandson serving as regional governor of Central Greece.
But Greeks are used to nepotism, after having three of the Papandreou dynasty and two of the Karamanlis clan serving as PMs.
Having elevated the recently deceased politician to the status of a champion of democracy, some found the nerve, during their time of mourning to call for Greeks to go on and turn the statesman's funeral to a public demonstration, to a pro-democracy rally, like that which took place at the Nobel Laureate George Seferis' funeral, during the Dictatorship.
This call to arms, of course, happened on Facebook.
What actually happened in the funeral was the dethroned former King of Greece bursting into tears for his faithful friend (who had helped him oust the elected PM in 1965, effectively paving the way for the 1967 junta), among a group of hardcore ND voters and the country's elite, including five PMs.
One of them was even booed.
Which undermined all previous talk about civility, nobility and statemanship.
Nea Dimokratia issued a statement condemning the booing of Alexis Tsipras, though it should have come as no surprise.
The only place where people are more hostile to the Greek MP than a gathering of Mitsotakis' supporters is the Eurogroup.
Still, this kind of tension, hatred and toxic rhetoric spewing back and forth, garnished with lies and half truths and embellishments and revisions of history, is exhausting.
It is no wonder Greeks have no energy left to rebuild the country.

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