The following is an excerpt from an eyewitness account of the on-going protests in Ukraine from Andriy Bondarenko, a student in The New School for Social Research’s Democracy and Diversity Institute in Krakow Poland, in 2005.
Kyiv’s Maidan has really proved to be a lasting affair, strong enough to manifest the will of the majority of Ukraine’s population. Everyone could see the evidence of its ability to stand against police forces. Even during calm periods Maidan is still an impressive sight.
For those of us who are used to spending most of our time on the Internet, getting to Kyiv’s Maidan feels like diving. Emerging from the subway in the city center actually turns into a deep submersion. The sense of clarity and understanding, seemingly provided by “navigation devices” – social networks and information web-portals, instantly disappears when one is on the streets. You are there and you have to reconstruct on the spot a whole new and different picture of the Maidan’s world and of what really happens there. You begin to understand that the indicators generated by the devices we are so used to are nothing more than indicators. Here, the rich and dense picture of virtual Maidan is broken into pieces – from virtual reality to actual people and particular spaces and objects. In contrast to the comfort of a virtual protest this causes a slight panic, anger, despair and even a sense of powerlessness and alienation. Of course, you try hard to disperse all doubts and weakness, but they are still with you, following you like a little cloud. This “submersion” syndrome can be overcome only by one simple method – you have to walk, talk and see more.
Click here to read Bondarenko’s entire account on Public Seminar, NSSR’s digital hub for social research inquiry.