Ibiza Drums Of Peace Fall Silent In The Echo Chamber.

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The Day of the Drums was an anti-war event held on Benirass Beach, Ibiza, in 1991, against the Gulf War in Iraq. Over a thousand people turned up to dance to the tribal beat of the drums, directing energy waves of love and peace over God’s Finger and toward Iraq. A similar anti-war event was organised for Salinas Beach earlier last month to send the same positive energy, this time on the wings of kites, to the people of Palestine.

The event failed to rally over 100 souls, and the silence from most of the island’s population was deafening. It is surprising when you consider the amount of peace and love peddling gurus, yoga practitioners, and energy healing therapists on the island these days. So what has changed that has made a peace-loving island ambivalent to the wars in Palestine and Ukraine? As an observer of the island’s culture for the past 25 years, it is an interesting issue to explore.

For sure, there was a different mindset back in 1991. The hippy spirit was very much alive, but the main differential factor was the lack of social media in the 1990s. The legacy media, both on TV and in print, were the main sources of information and misinformation, but as the Ibiza family was a transient lot, they were not as connected to the mainstream media as they are today. Everybody was equal on the dance floor, and news arrived by word of mouth or experience in such matters. Love, Peace, and Freedom was the Hippy mantra that fueled social and political upheaval in Europe and America during the Vietnam War. Iconic images from the Washington Monument and San Francisco Summer of Love rallies in 1967 were flashed across worldwide television screens, influencing a new generation who began to question conservative society and experiment with alternative lifestyles. This movement directly led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the anti-war demonstration at Benirras in 1991. So what happened in Ibiza that changed that way of thinking. 

A lot has happened in the last two decades that has changed the energy of the island. One of the first things to change was the island’s loss of innocence, replaced by commercialism and corporate greed, where the power of the dollar was more important than the person. Respect and influence could be bought and sold, and that led to false gods and fake people inheriting the Balearic lifestyle inspired by the hippies. The island began to notice these winds of change during the second millennium as local family businesses sold out to international companies. That included several DJs. Also, there was the speed factor. Tourists wanted the American model of fast service and instant gratification, something that was alien to Ibiza and its relaxed, laid-back style. Also, the drugs changed. Ketamine and cocaine replaced ecstasy and acid around 2005, changing people’s behaviour and attitudes. However, the biggest change came with the explosion of the internet and social media between 2006 and 2010. Ibiza had resisted anything to do with technology before this, but no more could it ignore the huge power and influence it carried with it, especially in business, sales, brand awareness, and communications.

At first, it was just that. A free tool to advertise and promote businesses and share information. It replaced the old human PR system of handing out flyers and dragging people off the street to your business. It allowed independent businesses not connected to the once-powerful tour operators to appeal to a new generation of tourists. Tripadvisor is a prime example of how the internet revolutionised tourism in Ibiza. One of the fundamental rules of advertising is that you promote your business where your market resides, and the internet is where independent travellers and budget-conscious tourists live. Social media was a child born of the internet. Unlike its more conservative and complicated parent, it was fun, flexible, and a way to communicate. It was WhatsApp compared to the MSN messaging form of the internet. People could voice their opinions, share information, and follow other people who held similar interests to them, both social and political. It was seen as the nirvana of freedom of speech, and it was obvious that people resident in Ibiza, an island that was famous for its multicultural, tolerant, and open society, would relate to it. People soon became connected to their phones and not to the environment or people around them. This was where the biggest change came.

The echo chamber effect

One thing I have learned the hard way during my 54 years on this planet is that there is no such thing as a free lunch in corporate society, where everything has a price. To quote Oscar Wilde, “Nowadays everybody knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”. If you are getting or using something for free, you are the product. I have witnessed firsthand how people can be manipulated on social media through misinformation and algorithms designed to feed a personal bias or opinion. It is scary to see a soul become so engaged with this type of manipulation that it changes them as a person. It eliminates logical reasoning and sends its users to a comfortable dancefloor where everybody thinks, speaks, and looks the same. This groupthink is motivated by the need to conform, and it produces illogical decisions.


In the words of Timothy Prager, “Social media has made you a herd and reduced your individuality to a data point. You are the progressive censors who have traded freedom of thought for a reassuring echo chamber. Are those who enable this behaviour, who institutionalise it, the enemy? They preside over the death of empathy. I cannot understand you unless I am you. You have allowed yourselves to be siloed into infinity groups and demographic categories where an algorithm can mine your data and produce content that fills you with hate, fear, or both, and you are content to live that way. Believing that you are in charge of your lives when in fact you have handed them over to a closed-minded insularity” While those words were delivered in a fictional setting and are open to debate, one can recognize elements of uncomfortable truth in them. 


This leads me to the old divide-and-conquer strategy developed by the Romans. A strategy used by elites or oppressors to break down the relationships and unity between subjugated groups and tribes struggling for justice and liberation to maintain the status quo. In recent years, we have seen this strategy employed on social media, most notably with the Brexit, Trump, and COVID campaigns. This, I believe, is why those in Ibiza are not mobilising as they did in 1991 to protest against war and injustice.

They have been divided, and their values are now different from those of the hippie generation. It is sad to see, as Ibiza was always home to free thinkers, radicals, outcasts, black sheep, and artists. Will we ever witness another day of drums in Ibiza? While they are now a minority, Sven Vath was one of the few big-name DJs to denounce the war, there are people on the island who offer a critical eye and highlight the injustice of war. Sadly, they no longer populate the dancefloor as that arena is now governed by the close-minded insularity. 

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