Total Internet Blackout: Who Cares?


by Chris Bodenner

Parvez Sharma spoke with a close friend and "the most articulate ordinary Egyptian I know":

M: Hey Omar…you know that there many tweets coming in saying he is going to shut down everything tonight…whatever little internet was left and mobiles and landlines even?

O: Fuck the internet! I have not seen it since Thursday and I am not missing it. I don’t need it. No one in Tahrir Square needs it. No one in Suez needs it or in Alex…Go tell Mubarak that the peoples revolution does not his damn internet! 

M: Ha ha! You just gave me a possible title for the piece my friend…

O: Tayyib good. But honestly I mean 40 % of this country is living below the poverty line and a large chunk above that is barely surviving and then you have middle class doctors and lawyers etc and then you have you know rich people like me yaani…I mean it is true that cell phone penetration has improved very much…you know they even say that maybe 60 million have cellphones…you know…but its like those basic yaani really basic mobiles…nothing fancy…no internet bullshit for example…I can tell you that the majority of Egyptians have no idea what Facebook is or what Twitter is! I mean you ask me this everydaybut its true yaani…and look at this… a very basic mobile is from 180 Egyptian pounds…a fancy internet capable phone like an Iphone and that Droid thing or the blackberry cost around 3000 pounds…and I will just talk about the so called middle class for a second…before revolution they said they would increase the minimum wage to 1200 pounds a month…right now it is about 800 pounds…800 pounds to feed a family of 4 maybe more? And then you go and buy an internet enabled phone which costs more than 3 months of your salary?.

Me: So how and why is this whole narrative evolving?

O: You mean all this internet stuff…well before he shut us out on Thursday…there was vibrant communication between a certain and very small class of society in terms of relative numbers…this is the class of people who have ALWAYS been absent and apathetic from the suffering of the Egyptian majority…the poor people…you know that was good…so maybe a little bit through twitter and all the apathetic students and professional class started communicating for the first time…

(Photo: Egyptians spend the night in Cairo's Tahrir Square, following a seventh day of protests calling for the removal of President Hosni Mubarak's regime on January 31, 2011. By Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)