Is the internet a good or a bad thing? That is the question we should ask ourselves before making a decision on whether to limit the use of the internet in Bahrain, and any other state in the world. Simply, if the internet is good, then keep it, and if it is bad, then ban it. Let me explain.
If you are like me, a person that follows American Politics very closely, you can notice and learn a lot of tricks. It is because the American political system is born out of a school of thought that teaches individuals to find ways that turns around their weaknesses into strengths. What do I mean by this? Sometimes, you’d find a cancer survivor using his weakness into a successful PR stunt and ending up a famous politician or a cheered athlete. Life and its dramatic turns and twists in America allows for such a thing to occur all the time.
I remember many years back, when political scientists were attempting to explain what globalization is to students, here’s one definition. Globalization is a process that allows institutions to squeeze governments from above and below, giving it less and less space to use for governance. Today, we can see how true this definition came to be.
Political Science assumes that every government around the world wants to govern forever. However, due to the unique institutional design of every state, we witness different dynamic levels in each government. There are those who sense the changing environment around them and consequently adopts to them almost immediately, and on the other extreme, there are those who totally disregard the changing world around them and consequently end up clashing with foreign and domestic globalized organizations.
So what about the internet? In my view, the love-hate relationship governments have with the internet is related to their ability to find ways into surviving the new globalized world. In addition, it is related to their ability into using a weapon that threatens them into a weapon that protects them.
I hate to be overly sophisticated in my articles, but please allow me to hand you another example. There are two ways to deal with a transparent system that monitors each and every move you make. You can hate it and try your best to hide from it, or you can love it and play-act your moves. Eventually, your play-acting, whether you’re a good or a bad person, will force you to act good and challenge your opponents on who gets to be liked the most. In American politics for example, the biggest fear for politicians is actually not when they are monitored, but when they’re not aware that they are monitored and end up revealing something they don’t want to be revealed to the public, such as Romney’s 47% comment.
In a nutshell, services such as the internet can be used to benefit or to harm. This is why governments and international governmental organizations are attempting to institute regulatory systems in order to regulate services to make sure that only the benefits are produced while the bad is filtered out. Because the internet is a fast changing phenomenon, especially with social media, regulating it is a must to insure abuses don’t result from its use.
The internet comes with vast numbers of pluses that are absolutely essential for a growing economy. We should embrace it as much as we can, use it to close gaps not to expose them. The attitude that governments around the world, especially in the Middle East, should have is to love the internet and respect those who know how to maximize its use. Social Media in all its colors is a tool that should be regulated, should be loved, should be used, and should be encouraged to use.
Just a couple of days ago, Bahrain’s parliament suggested that each and every government representative should have a Facebook and a Twitter account. This is a great move and one in the right direction. The next move should be towards teaching students in schools about internet etiquette while drafting forward-looking laws that ensures optimal use of this great service.