I’m a Social Media Addict: Not

On January 6 this year, I suddenly woke up to the conclusion that I was addicted to social media. I wrote a blog post about this and decided I needed to cut down on my social media use. The following day I posted an update on my progress. This is my third and last update of my social media abstinence experiment. (more…)

I’m a Social Media Addict: End of Day 1

Today I decided to decrease my social media use. I’ve tried this before but it has never lasted for very long. A friend of mine was visiting yesterday and he told me how much better – and less stressful – his life had become ever since he stopped using Facebook six months ago. He also said that that he read lots of books since then. That’s when I decided: that’s it. I’m doing this. I’ve been wondering if I was missing out on life because of my over-use of social media. Now is the time to see if that is the case.

Today I went onto Facebook and Twitter twice. The first time this morning I probably spent about 30 minutes on it. This evening I found myself less interested in going through all my friends’ feeds. I scrolled down just a little bit and then stopped. I didn’t feel like I needed more.

During the day, I did feel a bit of tension every time a thought went through my head that I would normally immediately share on social media. But that tension was balanced out by a general sense of relaxation. I felt more relaxed today than I have in awhile, actually. It is almost as if being constantly on social media gives me some sort of an adrenaline high. Or perhaps it is the constant state of engagement that I’m in while I’m on social media. I was also spared the negative news I frequently find on my feeds and the general negativity that my friends will frequently and understandably express. (more…)

My Name Is Nadia and I’m a Social Media Addict (I Think): The Start

For a while now I’ve wanted to decrease my current level of social media activity. I think I’ve become dependent on it: addicted tosocialmedia it in a way.  I’d like to tell myself that this is partly due to the fact that I do not currently work fulltime. But if I take my memories back to when I was working full time, I think it is safe to say that I was over-using social media back then as well.

I can’t help but wonder what I might be missing out on in life because my face is stuck to a screen for so long.

I’ve been feeling a bit of a failure for the past two or three years, you see. I am a person who sees the amazing potential that I have but who also has almost no idea whatsoever to do with it. My personal circumstances have meant that I have had those two or three years without fulltime employment. But during that time I have been racking my brains over what to do next. I have an internal need to be innovative and creative but then I don’t know what to innovate or create.

Would I find the answers to many of the great questions of life if I spent less time on social media? (more…)

The Day I Became a Spy

I woke up this morning to what is probably the most hilarious news I have ever read.spy

A Facebook page called Revolutions & Secret Facts posted the following in Arabic:

“I have personally seen files originating from the State Security Apparatus posted on the official website of an international organization called Global Voices. This organization is sponsored and funded by Jewish Israelis. Spies who broke into the State Security Apparatus in Egypt sent these files to the organization. The files contain secrets about the Apparatus and the types of equipment they use. These files are still published on the [Global Voices] website. We haven’t previously alluded to this information so as not to aid in spreading State secrets. Among the official publicly acknowledged members of Global Voices inside Egypt are: …”

The status goes on to list the names of 19 people, all quite well known journalists, bloggers, and social media activists in Egypt. My name was among them. (more…)

Bring It On, 2014!

When you have a blog that you update semi-regularly and when there are a couple of people out there in this world who actually

Our 2013 Reminder Jar

Our 2013 Reminder Jar

read what you write, you feel a certain sense of obligation to your vast audience of two to write something special to bring in the new year.

I’ve been thinking of what my New Year post should be about for days, writing words in my head and then almost immediately afterwards erasing them (in my head too, of course. That’s how it works). Sometimes I begin writing great words of wisdom. And then I go back in my head and remember all the blog posts I wrote about how confused I have been this year and decide that is probably not a wise road to take. Other times in my head I write a summary of all the things that have happened to me, at me, around me, and in me and quickly realize how boring all that is even to me let alone to everybody else. I do want to write something, though. So I decided that I would do what I always do: I’ll sit down and let the words flow out of me. I’ll just be me.

At the beginning of 2013 my husband and I started a 2013 Reminder Jar. (more…)

هل انتوى ثوار مصر الرحيل؟

عدد أصدقائي القريبين الذين انتووا الرحيل خارج مصر العام المقبل وصل إلى خمسة. لم أعد أستطيع التحمل

هكذا كتبت إحدى صديقاتي على الفيسبوك منذ عدة أيام

وكتبت أخرى قبلها بيوم واحد فقط: انا حاليا بشهد اكبر هجرة جماعية لاصحابي وقرايبي خارج مصر

Picture taken by Nadia El-Awady on February 11, 2011, the day Mubarak was ousted

صورة أخذتها يوم تنحي مبارك ١١ فبراير ٢٠١١

أصبح موضوع السفر للخارج عنوان الكثير من الحوارات بين الأهل والأصدقاء في مصر. فتجد من رحل بالفعل وتجد من يعلن الرحيل القريب وتجد آخرين يتحدثون عن نيتهم للبحث عن عمل خارج مصر

ليست هجرة المصريين للخارج بالغريبة أو بالجديدة. فقد بدأ المصريون الهجرة بأعداد كبيرة خارج البلاد منذ أوائل السبعينيات. فحسب تقرير ٢٠١٣ لهجرة أحياء الاتحاد الأوروبي الصادر عن معهد الجامعة الأوروبية ومركز روبرت شومان للدراسات المتطورة ومركز سياسات الهجرة، فقد هاجر خارج مصر ٦.٥ مليون مصري عام ٢٠٠٩، مثل ٧٤٪ منهم ما يسمى بالمهاجرين المؤقتين. وذلك حيث كانت الدول الأكثر استقبالا للمهاجرين المصريين المؤقتين هم ليبيا والمملكة العربية السعودية والأردن والكويت والإمارات العربية المتحدة ودولة قطر. أما أكثر الدول استقبالا للمهاجرين المصريين الدائمين في ذلك العام فكانت الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية، والمملكة المتحدة، وإيطاليا، وفرنسا وكندا

سنعرف إن آجلا أم آجلا كيف تغيرت تلك الإحصائيات بعد ثورة الخامس والعشرين من يناير ثم بعدها مرة أخرى عام ٢٠١٣ حيث سيطرت الاضطرابات السياسية على البلاد. إلا أنه من الواضح أن ثمة تغيير ما يحدث الآن – إن لم يكن في تغير الأعداد فحتما في تغير بعض أسباب الهجرة للخارج لدى شباب الثورة

طلبت من بعض الأصدقاء المقربين الذين تركوا مصر بالفعل أو انتووا الرحيل – الكل منهم رفقاء ثورة ٢٥ يناير – أن يكتبوا لي فقرتين حول أسباب سفرهم خارج مصر في تلك الأيام خاصة. وكنت قد انتويت استخدام بعض كلماتهم في مقالة حول سفر المصريين للخارج إلا أني وبعد قراءة كلماتهم قررت تركها كما هي دون تدخل تحريري مني

من المهم أن أذكر أن هؤلاء هم فئة من أصدقائي الشخصيين والذين قد تمثل أو لا تمثل قصصهم فئة أكبر من المصريين. إلا أنها في النهاية قصص حقيقية. هي قصصهم هم. وبشكل ما هي قصتي أنا أيضا (more…)

Are Egypt’s Estranged Revolutionaries Moving Out?

“I’m counting the number of very close friends planning to move away next year and so far the toll is at 5. I really can’t bear it.”

Picture taken by Nadia El-Awady on February 11, 2011, the day Mubarak was ousted

Picture taken by Nadia El-Awady on February 11, 2011, the day Mubarak was ousted

These were the words of one of my friends on a Facebook status a few days ago.

Another wrote just one day earlier, “I am currently witnessing the largest mass emigration of friends and family from Egypt.”

The subject has become a common topic of conversation among family and friends. People leave, others announce they are leaving, yet others talk of their desire to leave.

Egyptians have been emigrating out of Egypt in large numbers since the early 1970s. According to the EU Neighborhood Migration Report 2013 published by the European University Institute, the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, and the Migration Policy Centre, there were 6.5 million Egyptian immigrants living in different parts of the world in 2009, 74 percent of whom were temporary migrants. Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar were the highest receiving destination countries of temporary migrants that year while the U.S., U.K., Italy, France, and Canada were the highest receiving countries of permanent Egyptian migrants.

How these demographics are statistically changing after the January 25, 2011 Revolution and then later in 2013 as political upheaval has overtaken the country is yet to be seen. Yet it is clear that a change is indeed happening, if not in sheer numbers then in the reasons that are causing Egypt’s revolutionary youth to leave.

I asked several of my friends who have left or who are actively in the process of leaving Egypt – all active participants in the January 25, 2011 Revolution – to write a couple of paragraphs each, explaining their reasons for wanting to leave. I had originally planned to incorporate some of their words into an article on Egyptian emigration post-Revolution. But after reading their words I have decided to leave them as is (albeit translated from Arabic). You will see why. (more…)

The Awkwardness of Christmas

When I was a little Muslim girl growing up in Midwest USA, my Egyptian father did everything in his power to segregate us fromChristmas-Tree Christmas. Christmas, we understood, was a religious holiday; someone else’s religious holiday.

I managed to get away with some things. At school I engaged in the arts & crafts activities of Christmas. Everyone at home appreciated the clove-covered apples wrapped in shiny ribbon that made a room smell nice. My father would not allow me to take part in Christmas plays or even watch them for that matter. But I did find myself humming along to Oh Holy Night and The Little Drummer Boy during music class. I couldn’t help it. They were catchy tunes. Those songs were overtly religious and were frowned upon by my father, as opposed to Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Rein Deer that were both allowed. (more…)

Struggling to Find My Calling in Life

It has been a very long time since I’ve known what I want to do in life.  I’ve been racking my head over it now for months, probably longer. And I’m getting absolutely nowhere.

Yesterday I came out of watching The Hobbit thinking that maybe what I need to do is spend the next two years learning Kung Fu. Then maybe I could go back to Egypt and use my Kung Fu superpowers to save the country from the evil dragons that have taken over the country. I really did decide this was going to be my calling. Those elves and their martial arts really got to my head.

Two days ago I decided that spending so much time on social media was not helping me figure out my calling. Perhaps if I cut back significantly I would be able to spend more time figuring it all out. I have been using social media quite heavily for several years now and it has definitely not helped me find my calling; the evidence being that it has gotten me absolutely nowhere. I did go through a phase where I felt that communicating through Facebook and Twitter had become my job. My husband once asked me to put down my phone and to focus on the moment that we were in – we were travelling somewhere. I replied, “But Colin. This is what I DO!” I have definitely been through phases where I have thought that my Twitter and Facebook followers were hanging on my every word. When did it become so important for me to communicate my every thought to a virtual world? Two days ago when I made my decision to cut down on social media, a thought came to my head and I struggled with myself for hours not to write down on Facebook. I told myself that if I still felt it was important later that evening then I could write it to the world then. I didn’t. The status would have read, “The women at my gym in the UK show hardly any emotion when they workout while I grimace and curse the whole time. I wonder what they are like during child birth.” Clearly this is a completely inconsequential thing to say. Before the Internet, that thought would go through my head and it would then die there. Now it comes into my head and I have to tell the world. What is that all about? I must admit that I am now relieved it is out there in the world through this blog post, though.

But no. I have decided that social media cannot be my calling.

I have not always been at a loss like this. (more…)

Hello. My Name Is Nadia. And to You I Am a Nobody.

Cairo has a population exceeding 18 million. EIGHTEEN MILLION. Yet every single time I leave the house I manage to bump into someone I know. I mean this in the most literal sense.

My work has taken me all over the world. As a journalist, I always set up interviews before I even set foot out of my country. I have attended conferences in many parts of the world and I have spoken at many. Every time there are people who know me and people whom I know at these events.

When I look back at my life, I realize it has taken me years and years of networking to get to this stage. It started when I was in university. I was part of the Muslim Brotherhood back then; a very large international community. I also had all my fellow students and friends who later went out into the world to work as medical doctors. I eventually started a career in journalism. I had colleagues at work and their families as friends, journalists around the world who wrote for me, and international journalism projects I became involved in. I knew people. Lots of them.

Yesterday I realized how blessed I have been and how much hard work that took. (more…)