In 2011 while I still was a second year university student – perchance, a student at the School of Political Science and International Relations in Wollega University, the haunting story of the Arab Spring was the most televised, tweeted about and interacted with trail of stories on social network platforms like, Facebook. As it happens then and now, Facebook is the most populated yet indistinguishably cacophonous platform in the desperate quest for “more freedom and liberty”, as the main protagonists of the Post-1991 life world of change. On the backdrops of the tremors that were shaking the Northern African, Arabic-speaking region ranging from Egypt in the East (Mashreq) to Morocco in the West (Maghreb), me and my classmates used to argue a lot about the kind of future that could emerge out of the crucibles of the Spring. Out of my cautious pessimism and careful approach to the idea of an Arab Spring in bringing about “a whole new era of hope and prosperity” together with the obscure and times irreversibly disruptive role of the WWW 2.0 I insisted on the side of the debate that argues in favor of a half-hearted positive change that is yet to come to the region via an Arab Diaspora led revolutionary fervour in the form of hashtags, Facebook pages and social media campaigns. The first and the most powerful among all such concatenations that came after it, is the anonymous Facebook page, We are all Khaled Said, launched by the Egyptian, Arabic Service Google CEO, Wael Ghonim. On the event of unleashing the “genie” of change, he was convinced overwhelmingly that all things remaining equal while changing what needs to be changed, he surmised feverishly that “the wind of change will favor us” while the future he dreamt of turned out be a dire dystopia than an idyllic utopia.
This year while the 5th anniversary of the Arab Spring is being celebrated in Egypt under the Presidency of Abdel Fattah El sisi and Libya is an indefinitely failed state with no trace of a “boss” left behind to put it under control and the spectre of the Islamic State coming to Arab Africa and then to Black Africa is haunting the people but bothering the 55 Heads of States of Africa bickering every year about frivolous issues that are only of interest in person only to them, Ghonim underwent a “Leap of Faith”, he recapitulated his argument apropos of what is going in his home country Egypt, a country he once hoped could become a democracy if the demos on the internet could overthrow the generation old “dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak“, which they effectively did but ended up with the Industrial Mubarak, the Egyptian Military. On this camino to the purification of Egypt by fire, as in a versatile Civil Society and a participatory youth, Ghonim confessed what could be considered impossible to admit for the present-minded homo politicus in the business of “social-media driven” social change, which Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times, quoted (from Ghonim’s recent TED Talk) in his article “Social Media: Destroyer or Creator?” as follows:
“Five years ago,I said, ‘If you want to liberate society, all you need is the Internet.’ Today I believe if we want to liberate society, we first need to liberate the Internet.”
Ergo, after his “reborn” allegiance to the Arab Spring and the utility of the social web to expected final output Ghonim went on to launch a new platform, Parlio, which according to him is “A social network for connecting global citizens to share and discuss perspectives on what matters.” If you happen to be a member of the new “discussion based” social web of intellectuals, activists, foreign policy and national security experts, it is somehow not surprising to stumble upon the household names of the global capitalist economy, inter alia, Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University; Christiane Amanpour, CNN Chief International Correspondent; Stephen Walt, Faculty Chair, International Security Program, Belfer Center; Walter Pincus, National Security Journalist for The Washington Post….etc. To the utter surprise of curious navigator of the uncharted waters of revolution in light of an emerging, economy based Global economic apartheid, Ghonim has been selective not just randomly but in terms of their protective profiles in his choice of the Right-wing, Neoliberals to the detriment of abandoning the harbingers of change in Egypt, his own countrymen who inspired not just vibrant and spontaneous social discussions across a myriad of socio-economic classes but also commit their very lives to the revolution. In doing so, while at the same time not forgetting the contemporary reality that he underwent a “transformation” of sorts though lacking reliability and trust that he once gave the Egyptians, the new “League of Extraordinary Ladies and Gentlemen of the Coast of the Atlantic” seems to be another episode of him going astray while leaving the kernel of the issue of a radical change in Egypt rolling in the muck, for preaching change without the proper supplement and compliment of the right specimen, the Egyptian people and their emissaries of change leaves us not to say the least perplexed. As such, taking him and where he currently presides, at the tableau of diverse CEOs at Google and investigating deeper into the metastasizing evolution of social media driver “revolts, revolutions, uprisings, springs…” while most of the times their epic tales will produce horrifying closure whereby the very people who impregnated the spirit of revolution abandon it during its gestation period of constant trials and tribulations, it is a matter of survival to carefully examine the very composition not just of the desiderata that could be delivered no matter how belated after the Spring but the otiose heads of the revolution. Mostly, it goes without saying that infectious heads of the Spring (though it’s rather a Winter of long nights full of terror, inquisition and insurrection) are not just snakes but hydra with evolutionary advantages over their closest of kins. Suffice to say, it is one thing to admit one’s guilt yet to overcome it another.