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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Long Live Egypt - تحيا مصر

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

F....b you

I quickly went over the numbers. I started this blog in April of 2006 and published 73 posts that same year. I wrote 64 in 2007, 42 in 2008, 53 in 2009 and 37 posts in 2010. Obviously it’s a declining trend but what disturbs me to a larger extent is that most of the blogs I followed regularly over these last few years have all but become inactive. Of course everybody is on Facebook now. In 2010 there was more facebooking than googling so it’s easy to imagine the huge impact it must’ve had on blogging.

Facebook is fulfilling a crucial role in our online lives or it would’ve flipped belly up like many other failed attempts at social networking. The fact that I don’t personally quite appreciate it doesn’t detract from my understanding of its popularity and appeal. I go there because that’s where many of my friends hang out and I’m always thrilled to “get together” with them for a quick, often, entertaining exchange. In that respect I see Facebook as a waterhole for buddies to chill out and catch up with the bits and pieces of what’s going on in their lives. Yet I’m really curious about another matter. Did my blogging chums stopped writing (or are writing much less) because they are spending most of their “free” online time on Facebook? Are avid readers, who happen to be Internet users, reading less in print and online? What about photographers, athletes, hobbyists, poets, lovers? Are they doing less of what they used to do in exchange for more time on Facebook?

In 1964 Marshall McLuhan published Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. He coined what later became an iconic phrase: “The medium is the message.” This statement could be interpreted in several ways, varying in scope and significance from the absurd to the substantial, but let me get back to Facebook. If we were to consider our presence there to be more than a recreational break (an evening at the pub) what is it really we are attempting to achieve? Having fun, just chatting, hanging out, doing nothing, checking to see what my neighbor is cooking are all legitimate answers. Communicating! That’s what I do when I’m on Facebook myself, socialize with my friends and occasionally meet new ones. So yes I can see the appeal for lonely people to go there and possibly meet someone interesting. There’s also the chance of getting rejected, having a one-night stand or even starting a relationship and falling in love. This is exactly what one expects from frequenting singles bars and night clubs. But don’t you agree that we have a better chance of meeting someone more interesting at the Louvres for instance than at the Moulin Rouge? In this post I am targeting those who enjoy museums, or bookstores, or art galleries, or discovering cultures rather than hotels and malls and who, at the end of the day, are able to create an intellectually or sensory pleasurable product to share with the rest of us. Has Facebook consumed the time you previously spent on being... creative? I’m really curious to know.

The cultural effects of social networking sites such as Facebook are tremendous and will continue to grow exponentially. The purpose of this extremely simple article is not to criticise this sweeping cultural trend in a destructive manner but to wonder whether an activity such as Facebooking has negatively affected creative people to have less time to do what they used to do best. I am aware that we can relay information on Facebook by linking, copying and parroting but can we actually create anything new? I love what a few of my friends are doing there, advertising their craft, their talent, their own fruits. I also admire whoever promote a cause they strongly believe in. However, I feel somehow cheated by those who have put their fertile minds to rest and are facebooking their time away and depriving me of their originality. I would really love to hear your answers, if you are still reading my blog that is :-)