By Emna Ben Jemaa
My first experience with writing started with blogs. Through blogging, my view of the world started to change; I was no longer dependent on the censored lens of the mainstream media.
My window to the world, my escape and even the vehicle to my enlightenment, blogging is the only means of communication that has allowed me to express my thoughts freely. Because I am my own publisher, I can write freely without censor or edit.
Blogging has changed my life and given me the opportunity to know myself and discover the world. Because of my blog, I have become a journalist. I have been invited to participate in face-to-face workshops around the world and I have also travelled without leaving my chair, discovering how people from other parts of the world live and think. Because of my blog, I have discovered other cultures and learned new things about myself.
Above all, through my blog, I have become an active citizen of the world.
I began the liberating experience of blogging five years ago. Until then writing seemed strange to me and I thought that only intellectuals took up the pen. But inexplicably I found myself starting to type words.
Writing anonymously allowed me to engage at my own pace. I started to enjoy the freedom of writing: the freedom of being able to express my thoughts through writing, things that I didn‘t dare say out loud.
Writing a blog allowed me to become more open-minded. I learned to question myself, to take the time to read opinions that differed from mine and give them serious thought. For example, I am against Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza; however, I have to read from beginning to end the arguments of an Israeli who defends the occupation.
I have also learned to become a global citizen. When you write a blog, you become conscience of your own existence and your potential to take action by denouncing an injustice. For example, during the war in Iraq, foreign media did not always provide Arabs the opportunity to voice their concerns. Blogs have been a way to reach people abroad and inform them about reality on the ground, a reality the mainstream media may not always see or report.
In some countries, freedom of expression is not an absolute right: even if governments do not always censor publications directly, the media often feel pressure to censor themselves.
In countries where you have to struggle to express yourself, having a blog can sometimes provide a level of freedom not enjoyed by mainstream media, allowing ideas to be freely and easily communicated and read by people all over the world. I have immediate proof of this when I look at the stats on who reads my blog. Each of my posts is read by more than 1,000 people, and I don’t even have to leave my chair. It would be a shame to waste such an opportunity to influence change.
Through blogging I have discovered a fabulous world of words and a community of different but complementary bloggers. I find myself in discussions with writers, journalists, business people and other citizens of the world. These exchanges begin on the blog but often continue by email, Skype and sometimes even in person.
Certainly one voice is not enough, ideas become interesting when they are shared. When an idea is posted on a blog, it opens the discussion to different points of view and, if readership is high, is often hotly debated through readers’ comments. This is what makes it interesting.
The interaction that blogs generate is beautiful. I have slowly begun to realise that at the end of the day, we all share certain emotions and aspirations.
Whether we live in Tunis, New York or Bamako, we all love the same way, we all share hopes for a success, love and happiness and we all believe in or at least hope for a better world.
Blogging allows us to open up to the world and to engage with people that we would never otherwise meet. My blog has transformed me from a spectator to an active global citizen, and I invite you to join the discussion.
Emna Ben Jemaa is a blogger, contributor to Tunis Hebdo and Africa Magazine and assistant professor of marketing at Time University in Tunis. She blogs at emmabenji.canalblog.com.