Highlander is four years old today and I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the effect of internet on our life.
Before internet, people interested in communicating with other cultures or making friends or even keep in touch used to write letters and use what we now call snail mail. Many of us can surely remember our little pen pals from those exotic far away sounding places.
In recent months the little bug that I noticed was going around is that several bloggers were pouring their hearts out about their friends and friendship in general.
Khadijateri : "Friends are not always forever, I have discovered."
Trabilsia: "Communication is interpreted by each single individual acording to his/her frame of mind.[sic]".
Loulou: " What do you do? Give in to your sense of duty and loyalty? Reach out to her and try very hard to change your perception of her?".
Carmen even devoted two posts: (1) "You hope that you meet people throughout your life journey that'll always stick around and that no matter how bad things get, they just don't go anywhere." and (2) "I always pray that they'll tap into the friendship reserve that we filled up together and realize how much I really do love them."
This is only a sample but basically all these complaints mean friendship IS important otherwise we would not devote so much time writing about it.
I love my friends and loved my pen pals. However, with the explosion of technology that revolutionised communication during the last decade or so, communication is now instant and reaches a wider network and farther then we ever imagined.
We have email, blogs, chat forums and all sorts of other forums. We instant message (IM) each other, Skype, text and leave offline messages. In short we interact and make new friends daily and it is easier to keep up with our old ones.
Before the blogosphere, I was looking for an interface to interact with fellow Arabs online, a place where I could communicate with them in several languages, a social network of sorts where there were like minded and not so like minded people. I stumbled like many Arabs on http://www.planetarabia.com/. ( does not work anymore).
By mid 2002 Planetarabia started shutting down, our emails were erased and features disappeared until one day sometime in 2003 Planetarabia was no longer.
I made so many friends on Planetarabia, Arab and non- Arab (probably a few people hated my guts lol) but I never made enemies. I fondly remember our conversations, discussions and arguments. It was the forum I used to hone in my ideas for those 3 years when I was online. I met several of the friends behind the usernames. Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Yemen, Iran, Syria, Kuwait, UK, US, Canada, Israel etc.. so many memories and so many great friends: R, M, Y, S and D I miss you so much. Their numbers are still in my cell phone and though we are no longer on Planetarabia we still are able to keep in touch.
In August 2003 I discovered the blogs and a new way to interact and my comments became long posts on my blog. Funnily enough I came across someone I knew from Planetarabia who also became a blogger, it was so hilarious when we compared notes about those we knew in common. This is just to show that the people you click with, you always will like them under whatever other name they are.
A lot of things changed since 2003 many readers have come and gone among whom I made also some great friends. Many of them who are no longer here but still read me are missed dearly. Others who have chosen to get on with their lives are missed very much.
The blogosphere has changed, the Libyan one has grown from yours truly into a big family. The Egyptian blogs are not as they used to be. The Iraqi blogosphere has a different mood. The Lebanese bloggers have kind of lost hope; the Kuwaiti blogs are not as fun as back in 2005, the Tunisian blogs are different. Yet among all these people I have many friends, brothers and sisters I would die for. I miss you all and I wish we could turn back the clock to before 9/11 and to another era.
I wanted to thank each and every reader and friend who has ever graced Highlander's blog. I learned from you very much. To those of you who know me personally don't worry sooner or later I will get in touch. I won't forget those of you who are no longer in the comment section because you all encouraged me to stay the course.
Planetarabia was a great forum and I am so sorry it closed. I have been able to find one link showing how it looked to us: here and also a piece of news about when the BBC agreed to stream the news on it.
I'm not worried though as I have saved a lot of its webpages over the years and most of the discussions on my hard disk and from time to time I can reread what we said and what we thought and it would spring back to life; the hopes and the innocence but most strikingly the human relations that formed.
In conclusion friends are not only those we find in the conventional way; let's not look a horse gift in the mouth. Also, true friends do last forever, anything else is a 'business transaction' as one of my new blogger friends said in quoting Libyan writer Sadeg Nayhooum.
PS, Has any of you ever been on Planetarabia? Do you want to share and tell me by which name you used to be known there?
Update (11.24 PM)
For the nostalgic among you, Maktoob.com is based on the same ideas as Planetarabia but it simply does not feel the same. Planetarabia was simpler and more streamlined.