Bassem Sabry and Social Media

Bassem Sabry, a blogger and writer in the Arab world, was interviewed by Jadaliyya during part of a series on local voices from the Arab population. His comments on the changing role of social media, in particular since the Arab Spring, showcase his opinions on the subject, and seem to in some ways reflect the opinions of the region as a whole. Sabry brings to the table, in his interview, his interpretation that much of the Arab world has adopted social media since the 2011 revolutions, and its role is still changing from one of organization and occasional political comment to a widespread source of discourse.

In truth, this can only be considered a good thing. The efforts of dictatorial governments to lock down such basic concepts as free speech and discourse are based in fear – fear that the spread of information and dissent among the populace will topple the regime. These fears are clearly well founded, as demonstrated in 2011. However, from the perspective of a citizen in a state where these freedoms have been enjoyed much longer than our lifetime, there is no threat to the government. Those who dissent do so within the system, and it is because of this that the system continues to function. This concept offers hope to those in the Middle East, who are just now beginning to understand the potential they have to shape the state of things to come. The short term potential of social media to allow the flow of discourse is a major reevaluation by the populations of respective nations to have an impact on their operation. Long term, this has potential to create a discourse community similar to that of the United States and Europe, and possibly allow a new sense of peace to enter the region.

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