07 March, 2011

A question for the community?

Is there a reason the UAE Community Blog doesn't deal with topical, contentious issues? I remember a time when it was less apolitical. Is it self censorship or lack of interest? Or what?

Did the shift happen when the economy tanked?

25 comments:

Mita said...

No - the shift happened because there were too many misunderstandings and a lot of people with too much time on their hands - posting unrelated comments on blog posts!

samuraisam said...

Unfortunately people are idiots; few realize the potential of this place.

Perhaps blogging just reached its peak and its come and gone.

Although the average page views have decreased quite a lot this blog is still big in authority because of its google rank and such.

hemlock said...

the shift happened when the censors decided they could think on everyone's behalf. there was no longer a need for anyone else to participate.

Paraglider said...

Still, it's a good question. Lots of people are discussing major events on their own blogs to a (relatively) small readership, even though bringing the discussion here would make far more impression. I think the reticence to put the head above the parapet here is that there are quite a few wholly negative and vitriolic commentators out there eager for any excuse to spit fire.

susanthecoach said...

because the bullies and the thought police won? Because too many people want to be told how to think or want to tell others how to think? Its sad, this used to be a fun place to come and see what people were thinking. Now there doesn't seem to be a lot of thinking going on.

Lirun said...

thank you for at least asking the question :)

as an outsider i can testify to the aggression i felt for reasons that had nothing to do with my commentary.. but i accepted the aggression generally because as far as i was concerned it formed part of the content of the response..

blogging - unlike facebook and twitter is designed to contain larger thoughts.. however - again unlike FB and TW - it is relatively anonymous.. and people often are quickly corrupted by the power of having their identity hidden and allow themselves to be much nastier than they would ever dare to be face to face..

having said that - between the threads of nastiness - a lot of valuable messages do get exchanged.. i have watched countless views change and even friendships form in places you would least expect it..

i vote for encouraging discussion.. and i agree that this blog provides a huge opportunity to view a window that is rarely opened to the UAE and by extension to the world..

Unjane said...

I too wonder what happened to this once vibrant blog. Maybe it is the economic crisis but I've also heard a lot of talk about authorities cracking down on posters. How they find people is beyond me. It's hard to live somewhere that the unexpected can happen at any time. Remember the arrest of a man at Dubai airport with a marijuana seed in the tread of his shoe? That was mind-boggling.

Kyle said...

John:

All previous politically-influenced posts were written by Expat Community members that were directly or indirectly affected. Two examples come to my mind:

1) The Mumbai shootings.
2) The Israeli/Palestinian issue.

There may be others but I haven't dug deep in the archives to lay out examples.

The issues on hand: Tunisia and Egypt that have been recently liberated from long term Dictators and the ongoing eviction processes (Libya, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain). Sure, this Community would be willing to discuss these issues but would it make a difference? Having said that, the initiative should first come from a member that is directly affected, not an outsider such as you and me whose base of knowledge is secondary to the issue at hand.

Based on what I've been hearing and reading, I'd say this crisis has reached its peak thanks to cautionary & preventive measures that were initiated by those that thought they were next in line period.

Lastly, thanks for this post. I hope it brings people out of hibernation.

Lirun said...

the mere fact that you are a foreigner doesnt make your opinion irrelevant nor does it deprive you the right to voice a concern..

the real nick said...

Blogging in the UAE lost its luster for me very quickly.

Interest in politics and ideas int this country differs from places like Tunisia or Egypt. There, people never ceased to be interested in the affairs of their home country even if it didn’t show them any love. There was at least hope to effect change and realize the promise of liberalization. Even if it may not necessarily be democratic representation people in those countries want but simply a better run state, better opportunities in life and freedom of choice. Until they eventually get there and become finally as dumbed down by cable TV and celebrity chicken nuggets as us in the West they will have a vested interest in change and pursue it. So there.

Here, the local populace seems to be largely catatonic in a pampered state of undeserved privilege and easy wealth afforded by public handouts, affirmative action and gratuitous consumption, and for obvious reasons dares not – or does not want to - bite the hand that feeds them.

And expats? Once you realize that the country has no interest in what expats think of it, expats lose interest in the country. It’s a little bit like unrequited love. Eventually your feelings go cold. You need reciprocity in a relationship.

Does the economic crash come into it? You bet. Once not even your material gain is assured, what’s left to love about Dubai?

No wonder many expats withdraw in some sort of inner emigration and take up a productive hobby like beach combing, or sex. Either that or they get so used to skimming on the surface that they can only ever blog about themselves, bad customer service, gadgets or wrongly placed traffic cones in Dubai Marina…

i, Bobo said...

"the shift happened when the censors decided they could think on everyone's behalf. there was no longer a need for anyone else to participate."

Agreed.

I'm thinking it started around October or November 2006 -- there was a post about two 7 DAYS articles that were published on the same page: one was about the President and the other about something called a "Bitch School."

Then the Arab press got a hold of it and started writing about the article and then the blog post came out and people freaked: and it was about this time that the Samurai Sam Code of Conduct came into effect: you could say X, but you couldn't say Y. You couldn't curse, but Sammy could call you a F***ing idiot in retort. Anything political was vetted. Anything remotely controversial was removed, almost immediately.

Some of us would enquire and get these cryptic email responses from Sammy saying:

"I cannot reveal much. All I know is that certain people read certain comments,got angry and may be investigating."

Okay, on one level, I get the fear of arrest or getting tossed out of the country -- but on another it just seemed like some people were watching way too may Oliver Stone movies.

And it just wasn't this incident, there was just a whole bunch of things built up after a while: I remember something was censored because a member said "Hosni Mubarak is a Dictator" and that starting a whole round of people reprimanding folks for saying what everyone thought anyway (apparently, it wasn't about the fact that he was a dictator, as I recall. It was about the fact that he was the head of a government friendly to the UAE and that it may have violated law to criticize him).

Look, there were legitimate assholes -- people who got on and just said the most vile things, attacked other members -- but I'm sorry I really liked that aspect because it promoted serious discourse, it encouraged a closer examination of what these idiots were saying, which in turn clarified the issues at hand and promoted a palpable sense that what people said mattered. That we were all somehow in a time and place where real substantive change was being openly discussed and that somehow we were moving towards a society where both Local and Expat were getting a better understanding of each other.

Anyway, I just got tired of the whole thing. It was too much of a hassle dealing with the thought police. And the effect of censorship had an immediate impact on morale, and not just on mine, I felt. There was a sluggishness to this place and a general lack of enthusiasm as well as a lack of posting (in the past there would eight, nine posts a day – I began to see WEEKS between individual posts). People began to blame the economy, and Sammy would defensively trot out the traffic stats -- but the decline of this forum had little to do with the economic situation. It had to do with RELEVANCE. It had to do with the fact that people didn't come here to get info on "the date festival" (or whatever) -- they came here because it represented a vibrant forum for discussing the issues of the day, ALL of the issues of the day.

Now it's just pablum.

samuraisam said...

i, bobo: cool story dude.

samuraisam said...

hemlock: I enjoy defending child rapists too. You're a credit to humanity.

samuraisam said...

Anyway, Things on the internet are popular one day and unpopular the next, that's all there is to it.

Simultaneously with the reduction of posting on here, many high quality blogs within the UAE dried out spontaneously. That's all there is to it. People tried it out, had some fun, and then less people wrote stuff and less visitors visited, and less child rapists wrote about child raping. As the UAE is a transient society many people have simply just left the country.

Funnily enough, complete morons will try to come up with all manner of reasoning for why less people post and less people visit. They come up with the same shit practically year on year (he is seriously recalling an event that happened half a fking decade ago and which has been explained to him at least 3 dozen more times than he can count)

Literally every thread like this is awesome and always contains an absolutely riveting series of personal analyses like this:
"but on another it just seemed like some people were watching way too may Oliver Stone movies."
(from the same guy who tried to show everyone the horrid truth about the UAE Communists blog and ended up with this great post which 12 people read (and judging from the comments section, thousands of people gave a shit)

"it's as if all the bottled up frustration - of a failed off-line life - comes out here, where you can pretend to be 'in control'"
(this of course was said while at the same time defending a complete toad who made all manner of threats including child rape, stabbing, slashing and deportation and offended an entire nation of people when he told them it was a 'good thing' that one of their planes crashed into the ground and killed 400 people)

I've been an admin on this site for a long time (about 5 years), there have been lots of situations on this site I've had to deal with. I've sworn a lot more than I should have many times. I've zagged when I should've zigged and I've offended quite a few people (wrongly or at least overly so in many cases). I will never try to present myself as being perfect or having never done any wrong.

However, in the thousands and thousands of comments on this website that I have had the pleasure of moderating, there have been two shining diamonds amongst the coal, two souls who stand tall above the rest of humanity, two people who I wish to congratulate with all of my e-penis.

Yes, I still maintain that iboob and hemlock are the two biggest fucking idiots I have ever encountered online.

i, Bobo said...

Now you're just out where the buses don't run -- I have absolutely no idea what you're on about with plane crashes and child molestation.

At the very least, I'm glad to have given you an opportunity or outlet to vent that rage on someone. Because you clearly need to blow off some of that steam, Fella -- as well as being in complete control of things, eh?

And in control you shall remain, albeit with a considerably smaller active membership -- but golly gee, at least they follow the rules.

And besides, you really shouldn't listen to the 'f***ing idiots" of the world. It's probably just because "few realize the potential of this place."

Nice hearing from Dr. Chilton, though. The UAE just isn't the same without him.

samuraisam said...

The child rape / plane crash is about Hemlock, because she defends a guy that said it was a 'good thing' when an Air India flight from Dubai crashed and killed however many people and managed to insult every nationality in the UAE. It made front-page news.

And yes, few do realize the potential of this place. It is probably the largest blog in the UAE.

hemlock said...

*thumbs up*
real mature sam.

Kyle said...


Interesting piece of news
.

Tainted Female said...

Hemlock said it right the first time around (and a few other's have repeated in so many words), as far as I'm concerned...

'the shift happened when the censors decided they could think on everyone's behalf. there was no longer a need for anyone else to participate.'

Contrary to Sam's response, 'people are idiots; few realize the potential of this place.'

The fact is, we do. We keep coming back for that very reason, hoping someone, some time will break this mind-numbing blargh (for lack of any word here), of something that was once great.

Half expecting Sam doesn't publish this... then does because I said he wouldn't (not without some eloquently phrased insult, of course). Good new is... Some things never change!

nzm said...

Kyle - that would be an interesting discussion piece.

Why not post it to the UAE blog instead of burying it in the comments?

samuraisam said...

hemlock: I resent your snide remark, I pride myself upon being a mature member of society and contributing only where positivity, resourcefulness and usefulness are truly expressed fully in my comment. dickface.


tainted: When I used the word potential I intended it as in people have the potential of posting stuff here that is widely read and automatically influential because of this site, but no one does.
Again this whole discussion is years old, and everyone comes on here and tries to figure out why and when its pointed out that everyone stopped actually posting posts everyone tries to deny it.

hemlock said...

sam, if you are the only one who believes he’s right, you're closer to gaddafi than you think.
(by that i mean delusional, megalomanic and in denial.)

samuraisam said...

Yeah I also wear a purple pimp-suit and Louis Vuitton sunglasses too.

Lirun said...

ive lost track - what are we fighting about now? :)

Kyle said...

Lirun:

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