by Marwan Al Husayni | May 31,2012 | 22:42
Facebook is as popular in Jordan as it is everywhere. It is a leading forum through which popular moods and trends can be examined. Yet, it is not a deep-rooted part of the wider popular culture in the country, though it is a phenomenon. Twitter, YouTube, Google and other online social media have strong presence among a good number of Jordanians.
One of the secrets behind the popularity of social media is that they allow anyone easy and powerful connection through virtual reality. To move and to connect with others is a human need and a social energy. These media are a good tool to gauge public mood.
Another way to measure and control the public mood in Jordan is gas stations. Fuel is not only a source for energy; it is an inherent component of our daily life that enables us to move and connect.
Like social media, gas stations are popular and visited daily by large numbers of people. In Jordan they have a “governmental” flavour. Each new government starts with “fuel-centric” policies or measurements in an attempt to heal the country’s ailing economy. Each raise in the prices of fuel means less movement for the people. Less movement in this case means less social connectivity, which is anti-human.
It is an undisputed fact that man is a social being by nature. This is why our governments need to shift to human-centric policies and measurements in order to succeed in building a strong economy.
The Arabic word usually used in Jordan for “fuel” is “mahrooqat”. Mahrooqat literally means “burnt materials”. While the engines of cars and other vehicles burn these materials to run and make people move and connect fast in their daily engagements, social engines do not run on “burnt policies”. They need human- and public-based measurements to keep running.
It is not a matter of virtual reality versus real world that is implied in these lines. Governments in general are responsible for facilitating the movement of money, goods and people internally and across borders. It is their duty also to facilitate the movement of social and human factors. Obstructing that, whatever the reason, does not contribute positively to the long and hard processes of reform. Maintaining harmonious methods for operating social engines, on the contrary, adds to the well-being of people, economy and the state.
It is in the interest of the government to alleviate the economic pressure on the social components of the state.
Maybe I am theorising in this context or am not close enough to the mechanisms of running governmental engines in Jordan. But what is common sense in this respect is that any lack of strategic, well-researched and well-designed policies will worsen all kinds of economic, social and even political ailments.
Hard times do not need hard decisions, they need strategic thinking. Moving from “fuel-centric” to human-centric strategies is a first step, for any government, towards real and virtual movement and connectivity of human beings.
The writer is a media strategist, interfaith and intercultural specialist. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.