Friday, April 12, 2013

Vote for Mideast Youth

Here's what nobody realizes, because nobody's reporting on it: the youth of the Middle East (who are demographically overwhelming, and poised to soon run things there) are incredibly sophisticated, smart, cool, modern, digital, tolerant, and conciliatory.

This is the generation responsible for the Arab Spring (which the oldsters co-opted). They're the generation behind the Green Revolution in Iran (which the oldsters brutally repelled). They are as plugged-in to the Internet and other digital culture as anyone, and are way hipper and more worldly than you or I. The image we have of culture in that part of the world is thoroughly outdated, and has been for some time. A tide's turned, but we've been too insular to notice (the erstwhile hip have turned insular, and vice versa!).

I'm not claiming that this description fits every single young person in the Middle East. Of course it doesn't. But trends do occur, and new generations do have their tone, even if the tone's never uniform (there were certainly crew-cutted Republican kids in 1969).

A prominent group giving voice to this generation is one I've long admired and supported: Mideast Youth. They first drew my attention with a mind-blowing YouTube upload convincingly dubbing the audio of MLK's "I Have a Dream" into a raving Ahmadinejad speech. Awesome!

This CNN article gives a good overview, and they've continued to work for the rights of minorities (Kurds, Baha'is, women, LGBT, guest-workers, etc) and generally advance their values. They've also launched some amazing projects, with the group's characteristic pizzazz, such as Crowdvoice, which allows everyday people to report news from the streets (hot items get floated to the top). It combines the best sort of crowdsourcing and citizen journalism; sort of a visual Wikipedia for news. Crowdvoice also offers a brilliantly produced Syria infographic that's way deeper than it appears at first glance.

If this sounds like a group you'd like to encourage, you can donate (it's tax-deductible), or, even easier, vote for them for a BOBs Award for 'Best Blog'. It takes just a second, but your vote would help them out quite a bit.

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