A social media disease for which there is no vaccine

In a satirical Arab show this week, a minister was afraid of a Twitter user named “Cough Syrup.” He pleaded with the social media buff to help him keep his job by not leaking an inflammatory video to his superiors.

The minister’s role was skillfully played by Saudi comedian Nasser al-Qasabi in the show titled “Selfie.” During the episode, the minister’s fear drove him and his team to devise a schedule in which he visits cities, towns and neglected areas in an attempt to redeem himself after the person who shot the video fled.

The minister then resorts to “Cough Syrup” for further help. What’s surprising is that the Twitter user appears to be really young – as if he hasn’t even graduated from high school yet. Despite his age, he has an army of Twitter users following him - an army that he seems to lead from one hashtag to another. The price for his silence is 100,000 Saudi riyals and two free flights a year.

There’s no doubt that social media has given “legions of idiots the right to speak”

Turki Al-Dakhil

There’s no doubt that social media has given “legions of idiots the right to speak” as the late Italian novelist Umberto Eco put it - legions who used to be “quickly silenced” before all this technology came into existence. What’s strange though, is how social media has created socially-accepted platforms for many to criticize and judge others from. Younger generations that are so enthusiastic about technology are suffering from a disease that is yet to have a vaccine.

There is more than one “Cough Syrup” across the world, acting freely on social media and creating rivalries. During this holy month of Ramadan, we ask God to guide them to the right path.

This article was first published in Okaz on Jun. 12, 2016.

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Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.

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