Social Media Week – Not So Social ( At least for me )

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A few months ago I heard about an event called  social media week that was taking place in Beirut . I was thrilled and excited especially since my work has a lot to do with social media . I thought to my self this is going to be a great opportunity to learn and network with new people . I registered for all the events during that week and made sure I emptied my calendar for this big event .

I went to the first session and I made sure I had my notebook and a lot of business cards , I entered into the building and waited in the coffee area where everyone was registering and getting ready . I started to look around and thought to my self , ” I hope another veiled woman shows up ” .  The sessions were almost done  and still no sign of a  veil in the room , ” It’s ok”  I said to myself  but deep down inside it was not ok .

Most the events I go to I barely find one or two women  who are like me , and it does make me feel unsecure , like an outcast and someone who doesn’t fit in.  I do confess that there are many times when I am strong and really don’t care . But for some reason this time I wasn’t that strong woman .

It was break time and I thought to my self that I should make the best of this and network , I stood aside while drinking my coffee, pretty confident that someone was going to approach me , but unfortunately no one did . I know that the basic networking rule states that you approach others not the other way around , but I wanted to give it try . And it worked after 30 minutes of standing all on my own , someone was coming my way . Back straight , smile ready , I was ready to network . ” Excuse me , where did you get your coffee from ? ”  he asked . Back down , smile gone , I was ready to leave .

A lot of you might blame me because I left in the middle of the day and didn’t attend any other event from social media week . I know I should have been stronger and that these kind of things should not affect me.  To some of you , you may not even see that there was anything wrong . But to me there was , this was the 50th or so event that I attend where I was  all alone and I was lonely .

I have nothing against social media week or any other event , and I am not saying that every event or conference needs to have a minimum number of veiled woman . All I am saying is that sometimes it is hard for us to cope into a society where beauty and image play a very important role .

And even though I left social media week , I still felt beautiful and confident that I was going to  shine and network in the upcoming conference,  and the truth is , I did. But that’s another story ! Until then .

Esraa

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2 responses »

  1. Dear Esraa,
    Most of us have faced the same experiences in one space or the other. However, I came to a weird outcome that we cannot really blame those people.
    I was best friends with a group of ‘Mixed Cultural Background’ colleges. We grew up together and learned to love each other no matter what. I was the only veiled girl between them, but not the only Muslim. You might find it weird but I was mistreated, discriminated against by those people who were of the same religion. I was rejected by them the day I decided to wear the Hijab. Friends from other religions not only encouraged this step, yet they perfectly understood it.
    Today when I meet those friends, I feel afraid of the outcome of the gathering only if other Muslim joined. For example, a year ago I was invited to the Alumni gathering of my school. My school is not Islamic so I was expecting Alcoholic drinks and non-Halal food. I sat at the table with my old friends from school, two Druze, 1 Lebanese Christian, 3 Americans and 3 Muslim friends. The waiter came asking if he can sip wine for the guests. To my astonishment, the 3 Americans, 2 Druze and Christian friends reject drinking because they respected me sitting with them on the same table, even more, they directly told me to avoid eating one of the appetizers since is wasn’t halal. The Muslims on the other hand not only accepted to drink, they choose beer and laughed cause I can’t eat those ‘delicious’ appetizers; their answer was “ Hal2 bala ta3a2oud” [do not be radical]!!
    Therefore, Esraa, as you see it is the mentality that those people of the same religion who read the same holy book that is giving others the change to disrespect or depreciate what we can do. It is the same when we drive. If you notice, even women mock and laugh at other women driving. They directly complain, “For sure it’s a woman driving”! They neglect the fact that us laughing at each other makes us vulnerable against others. That’s so true to the matter of Hijab.

  2. israa i like your story everyone feels lonely at some point, but for next times remember that maybe some of the people there are not veiled but appreciate the veiled women, im not veiled and sometimes my clothes are so far from being veiled but i really like to cooperate with veiled girls because they believe in something and are strong enough to stand up for it and they understand the greatness of islam, maybe other people were shy and that is why they didnt approach you ..

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