Social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter, have become, at present, sources of conflict, clash, and division after they deviated from their main function, which is to provide platforms for communication and exchange of information.
Today, what is happening on these platforms has become mere quarrels. The so-called hashtags aim at stirring up public opinion and creating an atmosphere of conflict. This certainly makes the harms of social media outweigh its benefits.
On social media, ordinary people, and perhaps even teenagers, can turn into political heroes who oppose, fight, swear and curse, without understanding or awareness. And they create these pseudo-conflicts to achieve fame most easily, without having a real purpose or expectation of the consequences.
The task is easy and simple, and there are no conditions or controls. Indeed, technology has provided such people with an unprecedented opportunity to transform into a recognised phenomenon, and achieve fake fame without any effort or justification.
It is enough to follow what is happening on the pages of these sites in the past two days, to discover the extent of social media banality. There are many hashtags here and there threatening Egypt, saying that they will take to the streets “to remove this regime and then turn Egypt into an oasis of democracy”. The strange thing is that all these hashtags did not exceed the number of 30,000 people.
And even if we assume that these hashtags are true, they cannot represent a threat even to fire a company employee. According to the statistics published by Twitter, the number of Egyptians subscribing to its platform does not exceed 3 million people, and in fact, they represent in all their spectrums of supporters and opponents about 0.027% of Egypt’s population of 110 million people. Therefore, this number does not exceed the population of one of the residential compounds.
Moreover, if the number of supporters and those who are not concerned with public or political affairs in Egypt are set aside, the number will need a microscope to search for them. Most importantly, if you search these hashtags, you will find that a large percentage of them are not from Egypt, but from countries which have lost their sovereignty due to the many conflicts such as Iraq, Syria, Libya.
The owners of these hashtags are well aware of the bad situation for a country that has lost its sovereignty leaving them with bitter experiences. It also means that they want to put Egypt in the same dilemma.
In fact, I can understand why these people concern themselves with the Egyptian issue, because in reality they have no business in the first place. They realise that they live in a “non-state”, and hate to find Egypt in a state of stability. Egypt is the only country that has followed through the Arab Spring with success and power, in which other countries fell, unfortunately, without return.
Indeed, social media can create an “illusion state” for its users, and make them feel that they are heroes and capable of change. In reality, they do not realise the meaning of the defining and decisive moment that Egypt crossed over from, after it succeeded in its historical test with the power and will of its people and its noble army.
Finally, I say to those who hate Egypt: if you threaten Egypt with demonstration, we prepare psychological hospitals to treat you from the negative effects of social media.
Dr Hatem Sadiq – Professor at Helwan University