The New York Times has published in its digital version a special coverage titled A New Arab generation finds its voice. It covers the points of view of 25 young Arabs, coming from different countries and with different backgrounds. From each person we get an impression of the changes happening these days in the Arab community and their hopes for the coming years.
I find their different view about religion, democracy and the Arabic culture very interesting. I was especially surprised by Ghassan el-Hakim’s comments. He believes that democracy would’nt work in these countries because their culture doesn’t have a democratic background. Therefore, the people would always need a leader to tell them what to do and where to go.
Some of the people highlight the Facebook’s role in the changes in the Arab world, to the point of talking about the youth of Facebook referring to the people leading to the revolution. But I believe the most interesting opinion about the social media’s influence on these changes is given by Sophia Chraïbi. She says that while they were used to not talking about politics, Facebook has brought a place where everyone posts comments and opinions, and it’s just now that she knows what her friends think. As she says, social media has allowed political discussion in these countries.
I find thislast opinion key to understand the importance of web 2.0. Social media is seen in democratic countries as a tool to keep in touch with friends or to talk to brands when we don’t like a product. But social media is much more: freedom of speech, access to information and a tool to organize thousands of people efficiently. It has even helped to take down dictatorships that have been in power for decades.
Social Media won’t change the world. Social Media is changing the world right now.