Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pashtuns and Blogging - Part 2: the challenges

Previously, we've discussed why Pashtuns need to blog more, and we came up with at lest 5 major reasons (besides the more common reasons like: it's fun, it feels great to write down your feelings and thoughts and all, writing/blogging is a great medicine for the soul, etc.). So, here, we'll talk about what kinds of challenges are faced by Pashtuns during their blogging experience. I am not aware of all of them, so feel free to add more.

1. Language and Audience

The list I've compiled so far of Pashtun bloggers suggests that a good majority of Pashtun bloggers are located in the West, although many of them blog about Pashtuns, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc. Although they may be fluent in Pashto, they, like me, tend to write in English, and Pashtun bloggers in Pashto don't across easily. (If you know of Pashtuns who blog in Pashto, whether partially or completely, please feel free to bring them to my attention.) When we write in English, our audience possibly narrows significantly: most of our people in Pakistan and Afghanistan don't know English too well, and so it may be difficult for them to read and understand us enough to interact with us in discussions generated by and in our blogs. Yet, they are a significant audience to have particularly because they are located inside the region that is the focus of some of our blogs. Essentially, in conversations we have about our folks "back home," readers from "back home" are the actual insiders while us writers may be mere outsiders, although both our perspectives may be equally valuable. 

So that's perhaps one of the top-most challenges for those Pashtuns who blog about Pashtun issues inside Afghanistan and Pakistan and need a Pashtun audience from said countries to participate in discussions about them.

2. Writing
Many Pashtuns inside Afghanistan and Pakistan seem to feel uncomfortable blogging, from what they tell me in emails and messages, because they believe their English is too weak for them to write. In response, I'd like to remind these potential bloggers that you don't have to blog in English only; you can also blog in Pashto or Urdu or Arabic or whatever other language you'd like to write in. Don't let your possibly incorrect thinking that your English skills are not competent to hinder you from pursuing a blog.

3. Anonymity 

Generally, Pashtuns are a "private" people. We don't like too much attention, we like to keep our problems and concerns to ourselves, we don't feel the need to tell the world what's up--we like our anonymity. So we don't want to blog, and we're not expected to blog. So from what I understand on some Facebook interactions among Pashtuns who don't get the point of blogging, "Why are you wasting your time blogging?" Some see it as purposeless, not realizing that it can be very meaningful to those who do value blogging. 

4. Pressure to stay within the status-quo

We're always burdened with representing an entire ethnicity of people, over 60 million (Pashtuns) who are far more diverse than people often realize--than even some Pashtuns realize. We're also expected to represent an entire religion (Islam) and an entire religious group (Muslims), who number more than a billion people around the world and who are as diverse as there are Muslims. Despite the diversity among Pashtuns and Muslims, writers are often expected to represent every single person in their religion, nation, race, gender, and when they don't, they are accused of being too simplistic or too biased, or of generalizing or of not taking into considering a certain issue that's important to someone else out there. So it's very possible--and in fact, this happens frequently--that voices of dissent are deliberately ignored or overlooked, being dismissed as unacceptable just because they do not "accurately represent" the race or the religion or the nation of the person who's writing. 

5. For women: inappropriate contact

Pashtun female bloggers and I talk about this problem all the time, sharing our experiences as bloggers who have a wide range of readers of each gender. Undoubtedly, there are many females out there who believe that any female who interacts with men as basically a slut and should be treated as one--and that she "wants" to be treated as one--but importantly, also, Pashtun males often interact with us differently than they would interact with other Pashtun females. For instance, it's not uncommon for a Pashtun male to address a female Pashtun who's "known" in the Internet Pashtun communities, such as Twitter or Facebook or discussion forums, as a "dear" or "sweetheart" or "darling" or even "baby" (yes, all in English). When you ask these men (boys): "How would you react if my brother addressed your sister or your wife this way?" they go crazy. They start to insult you and remind you that "this is why you deserve to be treated like a slut" (the word for slut is often used by them in Pashto, not in English). A few of them, however, the ones who are slightly more respectful, tend to say something like: "But you're a public person online. Everyone knows you. Pashtuns know you. You interact with men ALL the time on your blog, on Facebook, on forums, on Twitter. My wife/sister/daughter doesn't, so why should any male talk to them that way?" Note the distinction made between the female blogger or the active female participant in forums/FB/Twitter/etc. and the quiet, innocent girl who doesn't interact with men other than her family members. Somehow, unfairly, the former must learn to accept disrespect from Pashtun men she interacts with frequently, while the latter one obviously doesn't deserve such disrespect.

These are all the challenges I can think of right now. I'll add more as they come to mind.

Reminder: here's how to blog- go to any of the following sites: blogger.comwordpress.comlivejournal.com,tumblr.com, and see which of the sites you like best to start a blog on; these are all blogging platforms.- then open your blog there, select a template from the many options provided, and- start writing!
And when you open your blog, please let me know what the link to it is so that I can share it on my list of Pukhtun bloggers.



Coming up:


Previously:

2 comments:

  1. good work to wake and shake us ...

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  2. nice . love it . thanks for sharing.the challenges u have hinted to are far more bigger than they look . i request more bloggers to write on the issue in hand and express what they feel about it and what are the challenges in their opinion.i have shared this article wherever i cold. plz spread the word.great job Qrratugai.

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Dare to opine :)

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