On January 14, a group of EDL workers who’d been laid-off blocked the Dora highway in protest. As this is a major entrance in and out of the capital, many commuters were inconvenienced, and many vented their annoyance on Twitter. Yet, what seemed odd to me was just how little patience people had with the protest, dismissing it almost immediately as “disgusting,” or “habal.” I wasn’t there, stuck in traffic for three hours, so I can’t say for certain how I would have felt in that situation, and generally speaking, my take on protests is simple: people don’t do it for fun; they do it because they feel they have to, or because some injustice -- at least in their view -- has occurred. But again, I wasn’t there.

SO, to better understand this reaction, I’ve decided to play devil’s advocate and think of some possible reasons for this anger.

Electricity workers block the coastal highway between Karantina and Dora causing heavy traffic, Tuedsay, Jan. 14, 2014. (Photo via The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

1. Traffic sucks.

Just being in a car that’s stuck behind another car, that’s stuck behind another car, for hours on end, is a miserable experience. In fact, driving in general can bring out the worst in people. In his book, "How Emotions Work," Joseph Katz describes driving as a ‘dumb behavior’ -- not dumb as in ‘stupid,’ but dumb as in ‘unable to communicate.’ In other words, driving makes you ‘dumb’ because you can’t express yourself directly to other drivers, or, more importantly, understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. Everyone around becomes an idiot who can’t drive simply because mutual recognition -- something easier to do when navigating a sidewalk, for example -- isn’t possible. And so your frustration grows as all these idiot drivers sabotage your commute. Now, imagine adding something particularly disruptive to this already frustrating commute…

2. People really, really like their job/school.

Hey - it’s possible! I mean, why else would people be so angry about having a legitimate reason to be late? In fact, if we remember that Tuesday is the most productive day of the workweek, well then now the whole week is ruined! Thanks, unemployed people!

3. We’re just sick of roads being blocked, that’s all!

Fair point. Just google “lebanon protesters block roads” and see how how many articles you’ll find.

4. It’s a metaphor.

This one’s a little trickier. You see, like many things in Lebanon, the blocking of a road is not just about people being in the way and your time being wasted; it’s also about the very heart and soul of the system. A blocked road is a metaphor for a weak state. A traffic jam is code for failed infrastructure and wasted taxes. A dude popping wheelies on a scooter without a helmet while not paying for the electricity he’s stealing is everything that’s wrong with post-war Lebanese culture!

You get the point.

5. A-ha! You’ve said it yourself!This is the EDL we’re talking about…

True. People don’t tend to think very highly of Electricité du Liban, and who could blame them? Not when so many Lebanese kids’ first French words are moteur and dejanteur.

But think of it this way: if you go to Starbucks and think the coffee tastes awful, is it the barista’s fault?

Five Reasons People Were So Mad about the Dora Highway Protest

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