I just wanted to write a quick post to thank all the Jordanian netizens that joined us online yesterday in support of a censorship-free Internet in Jordan on World Against Cyber Censorship Day. The issue of censorship itself is not an easy issue and it’s one that most Jordanians, including bloggers and various other active netizens, would rather avoid. So to those who did dare to speak up and let their voice be heard on behalf of themselves and those who preferred to remain silent, I extend my gratitude and thanks to you. Moreover, Friday is usually an Internet-free day and unfortunately that was the day March 12th landed on – so again, I appreciate those who did show up to write posts, comment on posts, tweet, retweet and managed to get #FreeNetJO hashtag alive during an otherwise downtime of a day.
Like I said, this is an issue many would prefer to avoid – some due to the belief that it does not affect them personally as they do not write or comment or interact in any shape or form with that arena of “red lines”, and some due to the fact that they do not see how a censored Internet in Jordan will affect them or change the way they do things. This approach is a bit unfortunate in my opinion, simply because censorship is something that affects an entire society and finds ways to trickle down. From the information we receive to the way we interact and behave – the lingering presence of laws and penalties for speaking ones mind induces self-censorship at the highest levels. And the ripple effect is endless…
Lastly, to those cynical of social media’s ability to “change things” I don’t think I need to recount the cases where the opposite has been found to be true. But at the end of the day, the idea isn’t to simply post, tweet, comment and spread the word around in hopes that the Jordanian government will wake up the next day and shift the paradigm. It is about creating a conversation that is online and permanent. It is about creating awareness and generating interest. It is about rallying together in hopes of laying the groundwork for something bigger and better. That’s why these tools are important, regardless of the demographic that one may be convinced are their users.
Without awareness, without that conversation happening on the grassroots level, then nothing can ever happen. No movement can ever be built. And thus nothing will ever change.
We have to escape from this mindset that we are individuals and not a collective; that we are powerless; that we are too small; too insignificant; that we can play no role in the decision and policy-making process that determines the very way in which we live. We have to escape from this mindset that has had us believing it is up to the government to determine for us what we rights we are allowed to and what rights it believes we shouldn’t have. We have to escape from this mindset that has disabled us for so long and raising awareness at the most fundamental level is the first step.
The task isn’t easy and it’s almost always a long journey. But personally, I find some comfort in the words of anthropologist Margret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Thanks to all.