Home > main > The formation of Syrian battalion is a meme?

The formation of Syrian battalion is a meme?

May 7, 2012

There are few dozens of videos of Syrian army defectors and civilians joining the opposition or forming various parallel independent battalions. A great number of these videos show a group of Syrian men, standing in front of a camera, while the leader or a representative, reads the group’s declaration of constitution from a laptop computer. These videos also share a very low viewership, that in most cases is equivalent or less than the number of insurgents in the video.  The text is read in a loud, assertive and forceful voice, addressed, not to those present, but to the camera (or whatever recording device), or rather, to the internet.

The video announces to the internet that these group of people have decided to part with the leading military regime, and join the opposition. However, given the low number of viewers, it becomes unclear if the video is directed to an online audience, who do not know these people, and cannot anticipate their success, influence and their position vis a vis the multiplicity of forces within the country. As mentioned in a pervious post, the video—if we can call it video as its physical existence is in question— makes it clear that the group is constituted as an online entity as well as a physical one and possibly in spite of it. The declaration of the formation of the group is inseparable from the meme that its contributing to, one might suggest that it is prompted by it.

Thus, the internet here is not only an idea of a possible audience, it is not simply a means to an end (to send a message); rather the internet here is the very affirmation of the group’s existence, without which it will cease to be. The group substitutes the act of signing, with that of posing in front of the camera, one gesture is replaced by the other. Those present in the video are also signatories of the declaration. They stand before a computer screen and unite in front of a computer screen and will remain there until the video is removed from the internet. But if a subject’s offline existence is contingent upon its online presence, then one needs to transcode oneself into an avatar and contribute to the meme’s development and possible mutation.

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