The exodus of Albanians to England also because of Tik-tok
The British continue the campaign of discouraging the emigration of Albanians to Great Britain.
This time the Economist brings an article with the main character, Besmir from Kukësi, who shows his two lives, the one in Kukës and the one in Tik Tok.
The Economist article
In a small town in the north-east of Albania, 32-year-old Besmir Billa is fighting an invisible enemy. Billa has lived in Kukes – one of the poorest countries in Europe – all his life. As a young man, he resisted the urge to find work elsewhere because he wanted to stay close to his family. He always hoped that his nephews, who are like sons to him, would make the same choice. He tries to educate them about their culture, highlighting the majesty of the surrounding mountains and teaching them to play the coftelia, a traditional Albanian stringed instrument. But Billa feels that she is losing them.
The forces against him are darker and more capricious than the international labor market: TikTok's algorithms. His nephews are linked to the social media app, which offers a stream of videos to Albanians urging them to go to Britain and get rich. These clips are "destroying society", said Billa when I met him at the beginning of this year. "It's not real life, it's an illusion. To get likes and attention.”
At one school, teenage girls told me that there was no one to take them to the prom because their classmates were all in Britain. "It's like the boys are gone"
To see what he was talking about, I searched for England in TikTok's search bar. One of the first results was a clip offering to bring people into Britain illegally. All the videos encouraged Albanians to come to London.
Smugglers paid £18,000 to get Albanians through the channel. In June 2022, people noticed anonymous ads appearing on their TikTok feeds that offered to transport people on a small boat for just £4,000
Those who remain watch their friends' lives in London playing games on their phones. Influencers who have made the transition post videos on TikTok of themselves crossing Big Ben in expensive cars.
Një nga yjet më të mëdhenj të rrjeteve sociale të Kukësit është një mashkull i quajtur Aleks Vishaj. Nuk është e qartë se kur Vishaj erdhi për herë të parë në Britani, por ai u raportua se ishte deportuar në vitin 2021. Ai arriti, disi, të rihynte në vend dhe tani poston video për 35,000 ndjekësit e tij. Nipat e Billa-s, të cilët janë shtatë dhe 11 vjeç, ishin të prirur ta takonin dhe të bënin një selfie, si çdo fëmijë tjetër në qytet. Asnjëri nuk ka folur në mënyrë eksplicite për lëvizjen në Britani, por Billa ka frikë se do të vijë.
“Ata më tregojnë se si duan një makinë vërtet të shtrenjtë, ose më thonë se duan të jenë ndikues në mediat sociale. Është vërtet e vështirë për mua të di se çfarë t'u them atyre, "tha ai.
This year Besmir Billa tried something new to try to keep his grandchildren in Kukës: he created his own TikTok account. He captures the natural beauty of the region: videos of his friends walking through green mountains, picking flowers and petting wild horses. "The idea I had is to express something valuable. Not something meaningless. I think this is something that people really need," said Billa.
For now, Billa has the attention of his grandchildren.