Friday, July 29, 2005

Blogs and culture

This Egyptian blogosphere is having a wild ride. Just in a few months the number of blogs have more than doubled, its growing at an exponential rate. I wish someone could summarize each blog in order to be able to pick and choose who to read. But its really great to have the number of Egyptian blogs on the rise like that. The larger the blogosphere the better reflection it is of our society, and it sure is reflecting many aspects of our society.

I for example insist that I am an ordinary Egyptian. When Eric from NPR was telling me that a number of the Egyptian bloggers are too Americanized and asked how Egyptian I am, I told him that "I am too Egyptian." I tend to be very objective and critical of myself, and then of everything surrounding me and affecting me. So it comes very natural for me to express that objective criticism on my blog. Being too Egyptian, I naturally have many of the characteristics that I criticize so harshly. People think that if you're criticising something than you're alienating yourself from it. Not me, I criticize myself to objectively see my faults and try to fix them.

Back to our beloved blogosphere. The great thing about the Egyptian blogosphere is that its being able to present our culture as a diverse and multi-dimensional one, which is usually considered a monolithic one. I tend to think that we are pretty diverse, Egyptians that is, but we don't like that, so we work very hard on aligning everyone else to our thought, which has to be the mainstream line of though of our culture. Happens everywhere in Egypt, even on the blogs. But blogs have a tendency to sustain their individuality, and thus stressing our diversity. Attempts to lure others into one line of thought still persist ofcourse.

That is the most interesting thing I find about that blogosphere, its diversity and individuality, and that is a main benefit I see that is not as easy to have on the ground. Once you delve into that blogsphere, you really can tell that its an Egyptian one. Its a reflection of our society, a reflection of real people who have the opportunity to be themselves, which is why our diversity shows in such a striking manner.

But even on the blogosphere people try to maintain a certain image of themselves. Not necessarily the same image they present in real life, probably even a different image intentionally in order to complement that missing part of their beings. I for example am usually called crazy by close ones in real life, but I seem very well composed over here presenting an image of a mature and wise being. I for example am a classic example of the Egyptian apathy in real life, but over here an image is presented of me of a wild activist who is into everything trying to change the world. Actually, I like myself in real life. I like my crazy moments, and I love being apathetic. I think apathy is a good thing. God save us from stupid activism and maintain the sanity of our people. The most non-apathetic people here are the extremists, on both ends of the spectrum.

In real life its healthy to interact with different people in the society. The blogopshere makes that much easier to do, you can sit infront of your computer and interact with the world. Interaction comes in various forms, and fighting is sure one of them. In Egypt, they'd tell you never to argue with low people in the street no matter how big the wrong they did, because calling names is their game, so you don't want to stoop to their level. Don't mix with the dirty, lest you catch the dirt, and don't hang with the sick, lest you catch the virus.

Being the crazy being that I am, I do talk to them, and its worth the experience. Isn't it useful to know how they think? Sure they can think. Doesn't matter how screwed their thinking is, but it gives you exposure to the underworld. I once went into an argument (aka fight) in the street with two of the goon delivery guys on motorcycles. And after stooping to their level to get a feel of how they think and function, I went the following day to the McDonald's branch they work at to expediate their firing. I don't think they were fired, but it was the right thing to do.


DNA said...

Don't you think that that 'low class' you're told not to mix with is 'the typical Egyptian' class?

I mean, are you a typical Egyptian eventhough you submit that there are certain classes in society that you are advised not to indulge in arguments with? And which class do you think is bigger, yours or theirs? The fact that they outnumber you does not make you any less Egyptian, of course not, but it sure it does mean that you are not representative. That's the way I see it.

Mohamed said...

I'm not talking about the 'low class' that everyone in Egypt is fond of refering to. I'm talking about low people, who might very well be rich and of a 'high class'.

DNA said...

I had the impression that you were referring to the 'low class' because you indicated they were delivery guys for McDonald's.

Maybe that's not what you meant then.

LouLou said...

"God save us from stupid activism and maintain the sanity of our people."

Then God save you from me:)

Growing up I always thought I wanted to work for either WFO or Greenpeace. Was going to solve world hunger or save the rainforests or the ozone layer or all those endangered species. Whatever cause I happened to be infatuated with at the time.Was always wearing Save the Something t-shirts.

When I went to college in the US it was an orgy of activism. Had been reading & watching documentaries about activism for years & finally a chance to indulge my 'lust':)So I went to every protest, vigil, picket I could find. My favorite causes changed all the time covering everything from on-campus rape to alcoholism to world hunger(my old-time favorite) to pollution etc....

In those days I went to visit a friend in London once for one week only & managed to go to 3 protests.

Then when I came back here I applied for so many internships & positions with the UN, WHO, WFO etc...The only one I had any luck with was working for WFO in Southern Sudan. My parents freaked because they thought it was too dangerous. Fought about it for a while then gave up & got depressed. Still no response from any international world-saving organization so I gave up & started looking for 'normal' jobs.

Then I forgot all the idealism until a visit from a colleague who now works for the UN. It made me kind of sad for all the lost dreams. He showed me that I could have done it if I had only been more persistent.So it's been on my mind since.

Wanting to save the world is a typical Libran attitude btw.

haal said...

Mo Mo Mo, it is not strong enough, if you know what I mean.

The dirt doesnt know they are dirt even if they stained a white shirt. Everyone thinks he/she/it is perfect. So need not to judge the dirt, just play with it everynow and then to have fun. At the end of the day it is just dirt. Why would I care!

Mohamed said...

Lou, I like the part about the orgies and lust, but not to the extent of rape ya3ny! What organization does that kind of activism? I think I may join :) Wear a t-shirt that says: "Save Sex".

Haal, its not meant for anyone to understand. Doesn't matter that anyone does.

LouLou said...

"Lou, I like the part about the orgies, lust, but not to the extent of rape ya3ny! What organization does that kind of activism? I think I may join :) Wear a t-shirt that says: "Save Sex"."

Had to laugh at that:)Although I shouldn't laugh.This is very serious. Now I've gone & given you a bad idea about my morals. oh dear.

Meant it was a campaign AGAINST on-campus rape.Date rape was a problem on campus. The t-shirts said "Take Back The Night".

The point was that God will save you from activism so long as you avoid Librans like the plague.

By the way it was WFP not WFO.

Mohamed said...

Yeah Loulou, just playing with you :)

I told you before that I think my rising sign is Libra, eh. I once wanted to go to Palestine and figure out something to do there. Does that count? Actually at one point I wanted to be involved in a documentary there. Had no clue how to do it though :( You know, a documentary for the Arabs about what makes Palestinians keep up the fight.

Karim Elsahy said...

Banners for are now available at please hook em up buddy.

LouLou said...

"Does that count?"

Yep. You're AAS positive. A carrier. Possibly infected too.

AAS = Acute Activist Syndrome.

That's what my friends used to say I had.

Gilgamish said...

"I think apathy is a good thing. God save us from stupid activism and maintain the sanity of our people. The most non-apathetic people here are the extremists, on both ends of the spectrum."

i think the apathy is a bad thing, if were the ordinary egyptians like you for instance, non-apathetic on what is going on, and say something, then people will take the lead, hence you represent the ordinary, ie. majority, so definitely, you will put down the Extremists at both ends. In the end, those extremists, they are the once, that acting and trying to bring some action, so whoever, is desperate and want to do something, will fall along their lines. Of course, i might be generlizing, but that's how must of the time it works, the trap.

of course, i dont want to make it sound, egyptians only, i would say for most of the arabic countries, most of the time, we fall under extreme way of thinking, not talking religiously , like you said, at both ends of the spectrum. Even me, who live in the west, i've seen this TRAP of extremism fall onto our people, the arabs in here, either too loose and pimping out or too religious!

ألِف said...

You never told us why you thought the delivery guys should be fired.
Were they abusing the trust of their customers like tourists' guides do? Spitting in each sandwich they delivered maybe? :)

Mohamed said...

No, they were simply acting like goons in the street, disrespectful to other drivers, and harassing drivers.

ألِف said...

Harassing drivers?!
Come on be serious..

A friend of mine was THIS far from getting run over by a 'tayyar' delivery, as they call them in employment ads, while we were crossing in front of ElSakia in Zamalek. The 15cm I pulled her made the diference. All the cars stopped or slew down except for this bastard who whizzed by our clothes before coming to a halt.