And I Thought Facebook Was Mostly For People To See My Awesome Status Updates

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And they are totally awesome, as I’m sure most of you already know. I mean: Joshuah Bearman Blames It On The Rain?!?!? Come on, how cool is that, right?

Well, like me, you may be surprised to discover that there are other uses for the internet. Have you heard about online shopping? And apparently, political foment is an online activity. Heard about that one too? Well, this big piece in the NY Times magazine from yesterday takes a new look at how Facebook has formed a political vent and organizing tool in the middle east, particularly in Egypt, where there are nearly a million members. And once you get past the Lets Kill The Jews Causes stuff, the article moves on to the more novel role of online organizing in domestic political unrest and party-forming. What’s interesting is that the ease of Facebook has provided Egyptian twenty-year-olds not just with a political voice but with an alternate to the accepted, or tolerated, or at least established, political opposition of the Muslim brotherhood:

When I spoke to Wael Nawara, a 47-year-old Ghad activist who is a co-founder of the party, he explained why, for him, getting on Facebook was such a big eye-opener. If you look at Egyptian politics on the surface, he said, you might think that the Muslim Brotherhood is the only alternative to the Mubarak regime. But “Facebook revealed a liberal undercurrent in Egyptian society,” Nawara said. “In general, there’s this kind of apathy, a sense that there is nothing we can do to change the situation. But with Facebook you realize there are others who think alike and share the same ideals. You can find Islamists there, but it is really dominated by liberal voices.”

Shortly thereafter, the State Department optimists appear to voice their hope that these groups can be the seeds for civil society organizations. I like the sound of that, although I’m not so sure about the State Department’s own Facebook group called “Alliance of Youth Movements.” Dare to Keep Kids Off Extremism!

By the way, can I just make the interesting observation that in open societies, the internet’s aggressive contrarians are 4chan types — people who want to test the boundaries of freedom — whereas it’s the closed societies who see it as a medium of liberalism and political moderation. OK, so, universal human freedom established, I have some growing gifts to give and a game of Word Twist going and I haven’t posted to I Flip My Pillow To Get To The Cold Side in awhile, so GTG!!!!

Josh Bearman


Joshuah Bearman has written about CIA missions, jewel thieves, deranged private investigators, aspiring Fabios, bitter rivalry among dueling Santa Clauses, and the metaphysical implications of being the world's greatest Pac Man player. His article for Wired became the movie Argo. More from this author →