Libyan novelist Hisham Matar is in the Malcolm Gladwell “The revolution will not be tweeted” camp.
Although he admitted the effectiveness of social media during the Arab Spring, he stopped well short of giving Facebook and Twitter too much credit.
“There have been a lot of bold statements about the uprising in Egypt and Tunisia: that they couldn’t have happened without the internet. I think that is an exaggeration,” he told the Telegraph.
Matar grew up in Egypt and Libya and currently writes from his homebase in London.
“I think it’s useful but a lot of times I get slightly irritated,” he said. “It’s basically fashionable to talk about Facebook or Twitter but we don’t focus on other very important elements of human life that played a role.”
That said, social media platforms did help the new generation communicate in ways that were previously unavailable.
“In Tunisia and Egypt, I think Facebook and Twitter have created a political discourse that is bypassing the old regime,” he said. “Political dictatorships take possession not just of money and belongings but of narrative. The internet has created a new language.”
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