Sadly, I cannot say that the wide spread of social media, especially Twitter, would increase the level of freedom of opinion and strengthen the concept of the right to disagree. It is now obvious that a large percentage of Saudis have turned social media into weapons to exchange insults and attack those that disagree with them as well as vilify others.
The issue here is not related to disagreements between different schools of thought. It is not necessary for people curse each other because of differences in political views, but they do so even when someone expresses his opinion over a football game or a TV serial.
Lately, the Shoura Council discussed the issue of some government employees, judges and university teachers exchanging insults on Twitter. What the council did not know is that people on Twitter will attack anyone and anything and for no reason.
For example, if you were in Istanbul and said that you saw men and women exchanging kisses on the street on broad daylight, Saudi supporters of (Turkish Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan will attack you. If you said the Egyptian press is backward by 1,000 years, the Saudi liberals who back Gen. Al-Sisi will attack you.
If you compliment a government department, you will be accused immediately by many Saudis of glorifying the unworthy. If you criticized a government department, you will be accused by Saudi tweeters of instigating sedition.
If you expressed admiration for Dubai’s airport, you will be accused by some tweeters of receiving money from the UAE. If you complimented Qatar Airways, some tweeters will accuse you of receiving financial support from the Qatari government.
If you accused Bashar Al-Assad of being a dictator, some tweeters will be angry with you for sectarian reasons. If you accused Saddam Hussein of being a dictator, you will receive many attacks also for sectarian reasons, even though both Saddam and Al-Assad had nothing to do with sects.
I dare any Twitter user to express his opinion on any sport issue without receiving a flood of insults. If you criticize the Hilal club coach Sami Al-Jaber and accuse him of not knowing how to train players, you will come under attack by many Hilal fans who will accuse you of targeting their team.
The same thing will happen if someone criticized the president of Al-Nasr; immediately Nasr fans will accuse him of being a fan of the rival team.
In short, I say that Twitter and other social media are not good for us. These applications were invented by people who learned that disagreement in views would lead to innovation and development.
We were used to for many years watching one TV channel and reading one newspaper. We were used to listening to one speaker only in a big gathering.
When we had the chance to speak freely and express our opinion, we did not know what to say and, therefore, started attacking people. We consider cursing someone an expression of opinion that the recipient must accept.
This is the rule of dialogue in Twitter and it will continue like this.