Being able to connect with the rest of the world gave me the opportunity to swim freely in cyberspace of new notions, introduce me to new experiences, share various and all sorts of ideas, and know what that person has to say from the part of the world. Internet mingled me with the world, it made me understand better, learn more and be aware of details.
But this great ability to acquire more knowledge is considered dangerous by many countries and strict groups in many parts of the globe, including my country Syria. Such countries and groups abuse internet because they see that all the years they spent in brainwashing and deluding their nations or followers can vanish if people learned that there is always another way and they always have the right to choose it.
Connection speed in Syria is a pain and a headache. I used to spent half an hour just working the dial-up to get a connection, and when I became online I spend the other half hour praying that I stay connected even if was painfully slow. It appears that this slow connection is meant to be that way for two reasons: the first is to not encourage the middle class people to surf, and the second is to charge wealthier people high prices for faster connections. I used to use the internet at 4 in the morning so the web won't be crowded and I can at least stay connected without any intermissions. To send a CV, to email a dear friend or to submit my paper to a teacher made me pay The British Council a visit to use its speedy internet.
Many sites were blocked especially social networks like Facebook and Youtube, Blogs and Twitter. While the world was stepping into social information exchange era including multimedia hub, Syria stayed dwelling in html data while multimedia cost a lot of money.
I used to be obsessed and scared by not mentioning anything related to politics, religious or economic situation because many people were arrested and taken out from internet cafes for innocently surfing unapproved sites, or chatting about a taboo political or social matter. This tight limitation of freedom of expression and access to information limited sharing and developing of society, and left many people lagging behind the rest of the world.
Internet in Syria is not a habit for the majority of people and they are not encouraged to use it. I was never harassed in any internet cafe, they were friendly and somehow the connection was faster.
Internet helped me in my career since my job requires an instant access to information. This incredible tool facilitated the ability to reach and contact governmental institutions, companies, community and support groups, and schools. It melted the thick ice walls between many institutions considered once in the past higher than simpletons' reach, it empowered and encouraged many people, there is no levels or degrees in the cyberspace. It is a bitter sweet tool that can help and destroy you by allowing millions to know about you.
In a time when freedom of expression and equal access to knowledge and ideas has become synonymous with access to the Internet, World Pulse is asking women worldwide: What does "Universal Internet Access and Digital Freedom" mean to YOU? This month, we invite you to raise your voice by writing about the everyday obstacles you face and risks you take in accessing the Internet, or how you have used it to change lives and bring about positive change in your community. Click here to learn more about this campaign and how to participate.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Universal Internet Access.