The Day Facebook Saved a Book

In the midst of the 2014 Russian occupation of Crimea, Ukranian author Oleg Shynkarenko was writing a fictional dystopian story. There were violent protests and political upheavals, specifically in opposition to Russian control and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Because of the political turmoil, national security was at an all-time high, and Shynkarenko’s writing, which he was posting on a blog, was deleted by security services.

Some may not realize that Ukraine was a part of Russia up until 1991. They had a brief stint of Independence in 1918, but in 1922 they agreed to rejoin the USSR. It was not until 1991 that they fully regained their independence. During 2014, Russia occupied Crimea, and in response, the people rose up against them. 

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Shynkarenko’s story is a post-apocalyptic tale about Russia succeeding in their conquest of Ukraine. Protagonist Kaharlyk is man who has lost his memory because the Russian army has used his brain to control satellites. Oleh began posting snippets of his work on Facebook: “The wind blows listlessly through every cranny. Travelling to Kiev on the main highway, two identical 26-storey buildings are visible by the road in the distance. They stick out, the last two teeth in a jawbone. Thus the city’s corpse lays, its head southwards. Their sole inhabitant is a mummified 45-year-old wearing elegant spectacles.” 

With growing censorship in Ukraine, Oleh said Facebook was his only way to express his work. The story itself is dark and full of misery. His inspiration comes, “undoubtedly from Oleh’s fears about the future for his country.” The story has been picked up by Kalyna Language Press and is due to be published sometime in the near future. Because of the attention it received on Facebook, the story has been picked up by Kalyna Language Press and is due to be published sometime in the near future.

As casual users of Facebook, we can easily forget how powerful of a tool it actually is. We say the same thing with twitter during Arab Spring, revolutionaries used social media to spread the word of their protests. Despite all the grief we encounter because of Facebook, remember that it is a vehicle for the freedom of speech. For that, I salute you Facebook! 

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