Published 16 November 201216 November 2012 · Politics War is social Giovanni Tiso We’re coming for you gaza! #idf #igers #israel #igdaily #ig_israel #instagood #instamood #iphonesia #iphoneonly #picoftheday #ohb #all_shots #sexy #follow #gmy #gang_family #jj #cute #beautiful #me #webstagram #tbt Web 2.0, social media, Facebook and Twitter, the internet itself had all been leading up to this: the IDF livetweeting its latest offensive on Gaza. There is now officially no aspect of human experience that cannot be represented via a series of brief, instant updates. War is social. Death is social. Terror is social. This isn’t a struggle over information. Propaganda isn’t an adequate descriptor. What the IDF is displaying is not superior PR, but greater nerve in asserting what is real. ‘This is the truth; retweet the truth,’ is the often overt meaning of those brief, terse, deeply absurd yet utterly banal communiqués. But the message is nothing without the participation. It’s the follows that give voice to @IDFSpokesperson. It’s the retweets that make its truth the Truth. The message is the medium. Months and years of live reportage from academic conferences, sporting events, the final of X-Factor or what you had for breakfast is what prepared the ground for this, what produced the rhetorical conventions, gathered the global audience and made it thinkable for a war operation not just to be narrated but to be waged in this way. We are coming for you, you’d better hide. But where? The internet is war. Every one of those tweets is a trigger being pulled, not figuratively but literally. It is both what announces death and what creates the discursive conditions for death. Social media has been weaponised. Tonight, more than 1 million Israelis are going to sleep in bomb shelters. This operation will bring a better tomorrow. Good morning to our friends in #America. While you were sleeping, 3 Israelis were killed when a rocket hit their house. The internet is war, and war is all there is. There is no diplomacy, no dissenting opinion, no alternative. Action is caused by its reaction. (They are firing back at us, so we are firing at them.) And the army is both the political arm and the arm that strikes, like in an insurgency. It is the army that makes the argument for war – each of those tweets is an argument for war – and explains why civilian deaths are not only tolerated but necessary. Terrorist groups in Gaza fire rockets from residential areas. Would you raise your child in such a neighborhood? http://ow.ly/fk8cE #Hamas Palestinian families making bad choices and failing to protect their children. There are echoes here of Robert Gibbs’ justification for the murder of Abderrahman Anwar al-Awlaki, but even Robert Gibbs, even the CIA wouldn’t have the nerve to tweet this. (The CIA is not on Twitter. Maybe it will open an account, after this week.) Note however that the justification is pre-emptive. In warning of the inevitability of civilian deaths, it makes civilian deaths happen. Since beginning of #PillarOfDefense, the IDF has targeted 156 terror sites in the #Gaza Strip. The IDF targets terror sites. A terror site is wherever a bomb or an artillery shall lands. War is surgical because Twitter is surgical. Who knew the practicing the art of creating the perfect message under 140 characters would lead to this? War existed before social media, but not like this. This is a new thing. Imagine reading the IDF feed from inside one of those homes. Imagine scrolling in real time through the continually updated rationale for why your life is expendable, for why you might be killed in the name of security. Imagine reading the approving responses and watching the retweets accrue, knowing that you cannot silence that outrageous voice, that nobody could or will. War is social now. This is what is new. Giovanni Tiso Giovanni Tiso is an Italian writer and translator based in Aotearoa/New Zealand and the editor of Overland’s online magazine. He tweets as @gtiso. More by Giovanni Tiso Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 1 June 20231 June 2023 · Politics Turning peaceful protesters into criminals—again Evan Smith So the Summary Offences (Obstruction of Public Places) Bill 2023 has been passed by South Australia’s Legislative Assembly and will become law. Fifteen hours of debate in the upper house, led by the Greens and SA Best, could not overturn the bill that was reportedly rushed through the lower house in just twenty-two minutes a fortnight ago. First published in Overland Issue 228 16 May 202323 May 2023 · Politics The gender pay gap’s grim legacy: homelessness among older women in Australia Samantha Trayhurn My mum took her first job in 1980, when she was fourteen. In my childhood, she worked as a medical receptionist. For every hour she worked, she was almost certainly paid less than a man in a job of ‘comparable value’. For every curtailed pay check, there was a lower superannuation benefit, a lower amount left for savings at the end of each week and, inevitably, a lower amount to put towards a house deposit.