It had to happen

Well, I have held out forever, but this morning I finally did it...I joined Facebook.

I had to, after reading yet another article (in the New York Times Magazine) about the way social networking software is sweeping across the Middle East. 

The story focuses on the April 6 Facebook group that was established last year to plan a general anti-government strike, and currently has about 70,000 members. While this is clearly an interesting development, the article's title--"Revolution: Facebook Style"--promises more than it can deliver: last April, despite the Facebook mobilization, there was no strike to speak of. (Meanwhile, like almost all US media coverage, the piece barely discusses the numerous labour protests that have been going on in the country for years, and that did culminate, on that day, in anti-government rioting in the city of Mahalla.)

I enjoyed the article because of the lively portraits of the online activists and of "Facebook Girl" Esraa Rashid, and some of the details about their relationships and disagreements. 

That said, I wonder why they don't send someone who speaks and reads Arabic to do a story of this kind, since the #1 thing it requires is hours and hours of reading posts and comments online, getting a sense of the tone and scope of discussions. I for one would have liked it if the piece had quoted the online-discussions more.
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Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.