Maybe it’s a good thing that Facebook has been banned. It might even be a positive development because the prohibition means that we may now see a reduced number of court cases on matters as inconsequential as corruption, rape and murder, and instead directions for bans on YouTube, Flickr and Wikipedia. Might I suggest that we also ban pencils and drawing.
Too long have our parents lamented our generation’s lack of passion and drive. Now, with this simple ban, the most apathetic mouse-clicking teenager of yesterday has been transformed into a politically active, enraged seeker of revolution. If nothing else, it certainly freed up my day. Maybe we can all take this enforced break from spreading our narcissism into the ether with status updates and instead enjoy some silent introspection.
Maybe we won’t waste our time mindlessly staring at videos of kittens falling over and instead learn something new like dancing the salsa, building model warships or playing the sitar. There is a risk of course. Maybe I will, instead, succumb to the same relief-from-boredom techniques used by the rest of Pakistan that never used the internet and go on to sire 13 children while burning a tire.
To the court’s credit though, the ban must be working. I definitely will not see any offensive website today compared to when Facebook was not blocked. Unfortunately, with the freed up bandwidth, I am also more likely to start downloading mass amounts of pornography since torrent speeds are fantastic right now.
The real unsung victim of this Facebook ban though, is poor old Musharraf. Since his exile he has been sitting with a team of analysts and strategists, carefully studying every aspect of the Obama campaign. “Social networking” one of them cried out, “that’s the key!” “What the hell is social networking,” was Musharraf’s response. The following year was spent teaching him how to set up a fan-page, how to upload video clips and how to set your privacy settings so the whole world can’t see the pictures of you in a swimming pool — known as “pulling a Taseer”.
Finally, after much training he was set to begin twofinger typing his call to revolution. And then Facebook got banned. Where will he find followers from now? What will this mean for his political career? And more importantly, does he know about the ban or does he think all of Pakistan is avoiding him on-line. YouTube, Wikipedia and Facebook are planning on a response but they should take the time out to be proud of themselves. On the internet, being banned by Pakistan puts you in good company. We only ban the best. YouTube was banned last year and Blogspot was banned the year before that. Oddly, blasphemy still exists despite these bans. Maybe that’s something I can think about in my new-found free time.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 21st, 2010.