Rewiring the Youth’s Consciousness + Project Pitch

In “Youth and Citizenship in the Digital Age: A View from Egypt,” Linda proposed the idea that in this digital era, the youth have become a “wired generation.” She asserts that the term, wired generation, really encompasses how communication in this digital era has led to a “rewiring” of youth’s consciousness. This means that the youth, unlike before, have become a force to be reckoned with due to their digitally active participation in social and political systems.

The wired generation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), which are under authoritarian regime, are in constant conditions of “political repression and economic exclusion,” unemployment, injustice, etc, etc. Thankfully, with the massive use of communication tools from this digital era, the youth are now waking up and becoming aware of their conditions, which are causing them to not be silent and begin fighting for their rights. This social network revolution that was a catalyst, but not the primary reason, for the 25 January Revolution, has become an extension of their “social, political, psychological, and even spiritual life.” An example of how important this digital era is in making youth actively participating in the political arena, are Facebook pages like “We Are Khaled Said” and the “April 6th Youth Movement,” which are movements showing what the wired generation can do in this digital era.

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Project Pitch:

Upon reading “Feminist Insurrections and The Egyptian Revolution,” by Paul Amar, I decided that I really wanted my project to focus and campaign on women’s rights around the world, specifically in the Middle East. I still want to develop my topic further and make it more specific, even though I know that there is a tapestry of problems that need to be addressed in regards with women’s rights around the world, so I’m considering campaigning for protection of women from sexual harassment or campaigning against the ridiculous violations/restrictions on women’s rights, for example how in Saudi Arabia and Morocco rape victims can be charged with crimes, etc, etc. Creatively, I’m not quite sure how I want to execute this campaign but I’ll probably want to make a short film or PSA.

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Rewiring the Youth’s Consciousness + Project Pitch

Youth Digital Citizenship

After reading this article I was able to better understand the process new generations undergo to come to the decision to up rise against repeated issues. Last week we learned about Khaled Said movement and how that aided in the revolution in Egypt. One of this week’s article focused on how the new generation uses social media as a method of protesting at a global scale. Social media allows the new generation to establish a global presence while staying connected in their present environment.

In Egypt the new generation conducted sit ins and civil protests against the regime that existed in Egypt. Social media played a large role in spreading the horrors that were occurring in the country at the time. For example, a sit in that was conducted could be uploaded to Facebook and shared with millions of people world wide. This is the worlds current method of mass communication and mass exploitation. In comparison to previous generations, the newer generations must assert their rights in a digital sense. This means that from a young age they understand that the world is connected through the web and therefore expression is obtained in the form of social media.

Protesting to the newer generations come in the form of social media exploitation. Long forgotten are the times of physical pretests and mass gatherings to express ideas. The socially connected world has allowed people to express themselves that does not involve traveling, coordination, or courage. It is much easier to post a rant on social media than to physically attend a rally where physical harm might linger. So do you believe that the Revolution would of or would not have happen if social media was not involved? Like Raggal stated, “Revolutions take place first of all in our minds.”

Project Proposal:

I am still trying to figure out what exact to do for the project. I think doing extensive research on a current issue in the Middle East is something that interests me and following it by creating a video addressing the issue. I would also like to see my peers ideas and work with people with similar interests.

 

Youth Digital Citizenship

Cultural Knowledge on the Internet

As emphasized in last weeks readings, the power of social media is greater than we might think it to be. In this weeks readings the importance of social media and the use of internet sources throughout Herrera’s reading was also a topic of great importance.

In the scholarly article, titled Youth and Citizenship in the Digital Age: A View from Egypt by Linda Herrera, we read how the young people of today are refers to as “wired youth” as opposed to kids who are being dumbed down because of the internet, and we come across several personal stories of people who have found their way of expression and sociability through resources the internet provides for them.

Herrera spoke about the lives of many people who used the media sites, such as Facebook, to branch out, video games to find happiness social medand a social life, and blogging as practice for a  professional career. In particular the story of Haisam, introduced in Phase II: Cultural Revolution, caught my attention, and is a prime example of how the internet can expand someone’s cultural knowledge of countries different from their own, and help someone kick off their professional career as journalists, who at first might have only been interested in simply informing their social media followers of the election news happening around them.

In the piece it is mentioned that Haisam’s life was transformed after the internet, “For Haisam, the computer was ‘like a gateway to heaven.” Not only was the internet a way for 24 year old Haisam to explore new music, cinema and enrich his knowledgeculture in different cultures, the internet also lead him and friends he met on online forums, who were also interested in lyrics and music, to convert 125 years worth of Arabic music into digital format, “If not for their labor, this music might have been lost.”

As, both a cinema and a music student I greatly appreciate people who are interested in learning about cinema, and lyrical content of music. Even more so, as a music student who primarily studies middle eastern music, it is because of people like Haisam that I can study musical arabic theory with listening examples, which help me test hearing and allow me to practice distinguishing different maqams in traditional arabic songs.

Not only have people like Haisam been able to experience a “cultural revolution”, but they have also been able to make their own culture and news available to people around the world.

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For my project I am interested in creating a website, the topic of my choice is unclear so I am open to ideas. Designing a webpage has always been something I’ve been interested in doing and I do feel having website design experience is beneficial and useful. For now I’m thinking a webpage where people can share news pieces of around the world, with emphasis in Egypt and countries where revolutionary uprisings are happening. There can also be a section where one can learn about cinema, music and arts of different countries. My idea definitely needs some refining, so if anyone is interested I’d be happy to hear opinions and additional commentary.

Cultural Knowledge on the Internet

We are all Khaled Said

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Throughout the reading I was able to understand what “We are all Khaled Said” meant and what it represented to the people in Egypt. Majority of the youth in Egypt is growing up in a dysfunctional country were there are great scales of unemployment, drug abuse, poor quality education, and a corrupt legal system. As stated in the article Distorting Digital Citizenship, 62% of the population in Egypt is under twenty nine years old.

Many social media outlets have helped enabled uprising in many countries experiencing inhuman behavior towards citizens. One of the important movements in Egypt that spread rapidly would be “We are all Khaled Said” through the social network of Facebook. This movement helped the youth fight back the abuse they were receiving from the police through the incident of Alexandrian Khaled Said whom was beaten to death by police. Khaled Said was an indirect symbol who was able to represent the youth because he was easily relatable and his incident evolved the movement aimed towards the Emergency Law. Through this law, police powers were not limited, there was censorship, and citizens had no rights. The WAAKS allowed the starting of other small social media that address various of other issues Egypt faced such as sexual assault, marriage, drugs, etc. This aided the youth in seeing how important and influential social networks can be and recognizing the power it can have within their youth culture.

Khaled Said had a history of drug abuse and being problematic. He may not have been an ideal heroic symbol but he helped advance a rebellion against Hosni Mubarak former president would was eventually thrown over. Although there are still many remaining problems in Egypt to be faced this has helped spread awareness within the youth. Many are still hopefully that the youth will be more politically inclined and use the readily available and cheap forms such as the media and internet to gather together toward their human rights.

We are all Khaled Said

Digital Organization under Authoritarian Regimes

Throughout both Faris and Ali & El-Sharnouby’s articles, it’s clear that the internet, and specifically social media sites, provide a platform for repressed people to quickly, cheaply, and efficiently organize under a specific issue rather than resorting to traditional activist efforts of organizing in a physical space. Faris talks about the formation of Kefaya in Egypt and the struggles they originally faced in opposition to an authoritarian regime. Attendance rates were low, and due to gender-based violence, many women activists refrained from protesting.

Social media sites are widely accessible and provide a platform for anonymity, but it is also important to note that although social media activism in these environments can be extremely effective, campaigns can be easily skewed. Faris accentuates the point that in these online campaigns, there are many leaders. Perhaps with many leaders comes a wider chance for a movement’s main focus to shift in order to fit the group’s agenda. In the case of We Are All Khaled Said, Ali & El-Sharnouby comment that WAAKS struggles between the true testimony of Said’s beating and the mythic portrayal of a martyr of police brutality that had been associated with Said both on Facebook and in conversation surrounding the campaign.

Ali & El-Sharnouby appear very concerned with this disconnect and make the point that regardless of whether Said was or was not the martyr that WAAKS claims him to be, digital campaigns such as WAAKS are simply unable to fully grasp the social and cultural context of these events. They suggest that Egyptian youth culture and activism does not tackle the uncomfortable, underlying social issues of alienation, substance abuse, religious extremism, unemployment, poor education, etc. and are instead idealizing social change through “heroic stories of martyrdom and sacrifice” (Ali & El-Sharnouby, 90).

Digital Organization under Authoritarian Regimes