How do you figure out who you are? Obviously a complex process with input from a lot of different directions – family, school, friends, religious faith, meditation, work, online roles, and more – with which goes into the mix to create our persona different for each individual . For a lot of people what they perceive as their home culture can have a powerful influence on shaping how they see themselves. This may be the case even if the connection to that culture is remote and tenuous. Since the Boston Marathon bombing there was been a lot of speculation about the relationship of the Tsarnaev brothers, the suspected bombers, to their home land of Chechnya. In a recent article in The Economist, the Brothers’ difficulty in accommodating to life in the U.S. (more so for the older of the two), may have lead them to seek “mental refuge” in their home culture (and possibly religion).
With the exception of a recent visit by the older brother to the region, most of that contact with the culture appears to have come through Web sites and online chats. According to the article, “The internet and social networks that served as a channel created an illusion of engagement without experience or memory. The brothers never fought in the Chechen wars or lived in Chechnya for any length of time. Yet their lives and their sensibilities seem to have collided with its violent and tragic history.” The target they selected (the United States), apparently at least in some part out of loyalty to their cultural heritage, seems strangely at odds with the Chechen patriots on the home ground. The latter fought the perceived (and real) repressor of Chechen rights and freedoms: Russia. Could it be that the Internet today serves as an amplifier and, at times, a distorter of a culture’s views and values?