I finally had the opportunity to talk to a few 30 girls—at random—at the University of Jordan. I realize the sample size is small and very specific towards well-educated, middle to upper young women from Amman; however, it is a start to picking up trends and understanding how young women are interacting on social media. Here are some of observations of my initial interviews. Please read all the way to the bottom; as I mentioned earlier in my blog, this is a conversation and I would love to hear feedback—opinions, questions, and comments.
Facebook may be going out in the United States, but in Jordan it is strong and steady along with What’s Up. (*Side Note: Oddly enough this week Facebook just bought What’s Up for a hefty price, so really Facebook is expanding towards its non-Westernized audiences) Popular social media outlets like Twitter, Snap Chat, and Reddit have yet to make traction in Jordan. Most of the young women I spoke with were most interested in Facebook for the traditional reasons of communicating with friends, but many of them also said they received most of their news via Facebook from news outlets like MBC [Middle East Broadcasting], Al-Jazeera Arabic, and Al-Arabiyya.
According to the interviewees most of them felt they had more knowledge about Jordanian news more than world news. A few girls also made comments about Facebook lacking in privacy especially when it came to relationship statuses. Another comment about politics and news I received was that with the countries around Jordan in such a state of conflict, many of the young women felt sympathy towards these countries and realized how fortunate they are they Jordan does not have the same issues. However, they did acknowledge that Jordan has its own set of issues, and that if they were solved Jordan would be able to focus more on their neighbors.
I began to form some hypotheses about social media and how interactions reflect outward impact on culture and community:
- Jordanian Facebook reflects the conservative culture most girls are brought up in. Reputation means a lot to Jordanians, and therefore their public-selves on Facebook could be very different then their personal-selves.
- Knowledge of national news and using Facebook can fuel outward contributions to community. Through social media women are becoming aware of political or cultural issues in their country and around the world, creating a desire for reaching outwards to their communities.
Let me know if you think these hypotheses are fair or if they need more investigation. Thank you, can’t wait to hear your feedback!