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Emil Voráč: Romani influencers keep on skirmishing with each other - how do they mesmerize their followers?

21.1.2022 10:48
Emil Voráč (PHOTO: Jan Tichý)
Emil Voráč (PHOTO: Jan Tichý)

THE PHENOMENON OF FACEBOOK LIVE BROADCASTERS IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC

The following commentary is about an important phenomenon, the live broadcasting on the Facebook social network that is especially popular among poorer Roma. The broadcasters are Romani influencers who, in their frequent performances, express their views on current events, especially concerning the Roma. These influencers accuse each other of wrongdoing and quarrel with each other because an integral part of their activities is what they call their "collections", allegedly undertaken to help various Romani men and women. The influencers compete with one another in such aid and collection donations.

***

I foolishly thought the skirmishes among the Facebook LIVE broadcasters were over, but no, they haven't stopped, it's just me who hasn't watched them for a long time - and I am realizing that stupidity rules the world and cannot be eradicated. Even though I don't follow them, it is impossible to avoid hearing questions about them from different people. 

I am constantly being asked: "Did you hear that guy, did you see the broadcast? He says this, and the other one is complaining about you, and she's talking about nonprofits and all that."

These broadcasters on social media have influence over people - some agree with them, others do not, but most of those who watch them are addicted to them by now, so much so that their dependence on watching these "saviors" is even limiting their own families and their own offspring - some such followers, even if they themselves are not doing well financially, are robbing their own families by contributing to the various "collections" advertised by these broadcasters. This is happening at a time when price rises have affected absolutely everybody, and those households that have been socially weak for a long time have been even more affected by inflation. 

The followers of these grifters come from the very most vulnerable, those who are unable to assess information or even to find it, and so they are subject to the urgings of these alleged "saviors" who are themselves dependent on donations, especially financial ones, and whose own lives are a mess. Maybe that's why these broadcasters get so close to these marginalized people - their followers think they share their same life experience. 

The broadcasters tell their followers what they want to hear, and the followers see salvation in the speaker. Exactly the opposite is the case, though - the salvation is being provided by the people who are supporting the supposed "savior", or rather, keeping him financially alive. 

After all, the "savior" doesn't work for a living, most of the time, and never will. Why should he, if his donors will not listen to reason and are so short-sighted? 

The donors take care of his housing, pay his rent, contribute to his livelihood, even make sure their savior can have a car and fill the tank, have something to smoke, and it's necessary to provide him with clothing, too. There is no shortage of things that others pay for so a grifter is able to present himself as a "boss". 

How do these adventurers, influencers and innovators attract the donations from their sheep? It's quite simple - just like racists label somebody else as being to blame for their own messy lives, the influencer promises his naive confidants that he will turn their lives around like Zoro the Avenger. 

He convinces them that he has a patent on the solution to all their problems, and because he targets people without any education or insight, his mission succeeds. The influencers have succeeded so much that when they need to attack those opposed to them, then their followers, completely blinded by hatred, are never shy about shouting out their own comments online that are not just far beyond any decency, but that frequently break the law. 

I am writing this commentary from the perspective of a person who has been representing a nonprofit organization for many years. At present I am dedicated to community work, but in previous years I was a provider of social services, and therefore the non-profit was financed from Czech state subsidies - today EU subsidies sponsor the work. 

I have been doing this work for 25 years, and I cannot imagine that the influencers criticizing the nonprofit sector would ever have been able to draw on any of the above-mentioned funding sources - after all, they embezzle the money being provided by their own followers who donate in good faith, believing their gifts will go for humanitarian purposes. I remember watching some of those live broadcasts before, and I couldn't help but see how the potential sacrificial lambs were unable to notice that their "pastor" easily changed his mind five times a day. 

These people do not have ears to hear or eyes to see! One day their guru declares that vulgarities are completely foreign to him - and then Facebook is full of videos of him shouting such language.

At other times, the "collection" that he is taking up is allegedly purely for somebody in need - but then it turns out that it was primarily for himself. Next he says that criticism is healthy, but alas, as soon as someone starts criticizing him, that person is immediately blocked. 

The influencers compete with each other as to who will herd the most sheep. The more followers they gain, the bigger the chance that the donation haul will be larger. 

Naturally the influencers all discredit each other. They sling mud at each other, challenge each other to fights, either physical or verbal, and they also threaten each other. 

These grifters make threats to end each other's lives, or to turn each other in to the authorities. In any case, their herds of followers believe their particular "savior" is good to the bone, and each influencer makes arguments for his behavior that are unbreakable, in his followers' eyes. 

Sometimes it becomes necessary for these grifters to show their followers that they are figures who take action, so they frequently intentionally look for families or individuals to help who are actually in dire straits. These "props" are often in very ill health, and it is ideal if they are living in catastrophic conditions to boot. 

The influencers create a performance for a live broadcast featuring these poor people, according to a script. Such staged events appear even more credible when the "prop" doesn't clean up at home before the broadcast, but scatters as much stuff around the room as possible beforehand. 

Then the hyena can get to work:  "Dear sheep, do you realize that if it were not for me, your savior, this family would have come to a tragic end? You see I'm the one who is here - where are the nonprofits, where are the activists?"

This is what it takes to disseminate enlightenment among sheep: "I am here, but where are they? I am the antivaxxer, I am the one who means you well, and I even support the neo-Fascists - but where are the others? They're not here because, dear sheep, they don't care about your lives." 

Yes, esteemed readers, it's me who is the crazy one - I thought some of these grifters would have been cut off from making a living this way by now, but unfortunately these pimps can't be stopped. When something serves its function, it is impossible to stop it. 

It is impossible to stop the activity that summons and sustains these "celebrities" in fairly comfortable lifestyles, at least in the eyes of their sheep. I also know that just a handful of the people I am trying to reach will read this. 

Actually, this is all a secondary subject to me. The much more important topic is the political situation in our country, and therefore in Europe, because that affects absolutely everybody in Europe without distinction and has a real impact on our lives.

Emil Voráč, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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