Why do Syrians broadcast intimate life in live streaming?
Enab Baladi – Hassan Ibrahim
“Let me tell you why my wife was upset. If anyone wants to know what happened to us today, please share the broadcast,” a phrase that a Syrian content maker launched in a live broadcast via TikTok, the short-form video hosting service, in an attempt to attract followers, asking for their support and participation in the broadcast.
He said that the conversation should begin when the number of views reaches three thousand.
The content creator and his wife appear on the broadcast, and they talk about how he refused to buy her an evening dress in the green color she prefers, his insistence on the black color, and their quarrel inside the store until the saleswoman intervened and resolved the dispute.
The conversation in the broadcast included answers from both of them to the questions and comments of the followers, including the reason for choosing the black color, the price of the dress and the place of purchase, and the man’s attempt to please his wife through the broadcast using flirtatious phrases, extolling the beauty of the black color on her body.
This broadcast is one of the live streaming and video recordings in which Syrian content creators and ordinary users, individuals and families, appear on the screens of their smart devices, presenting the details of their daily lives and transmitting the smallest details to their followers, without caring about the consequences and repercussions of permissive family and personal life and making it common in cyberspace.
Money, fame, entertainment, and other reasons behind videos that garner thousands of views prompt the owner to provide more in order to keep pace with his audience and followers, informing them of more details of his life, introducing them through his screen to his private secrets, and giving them the freedom to dive into the depths of his personal freedom and his daily lifestyle.
Camera shows what is going on behind the walls
At the level of the content offered by some families, the camera roams the rooms of the house, the kitchen, the bathroom, the garden, and the swimming pool and accompanies them even outside the walls of the house.
Many videos recorded and broadcast by cameras, some of which contain pranks to discover the wife’s love, her jealousy, her husband’s eagerness when she falls ill, and the extent of his request for divorce when a problem arises, and vice versa.
Some of the recordings include introducing people from the family, such as children, mothers, and sisters, introducing them to the followers, and even introducing them to the atmosphere of some of these recordings and broadcasts, giving the followers answers to questions related to these people and even publishing their accounts on social media.
Other recordings contain some “pornography,” even if indirectly, such as the camera pointing at parts of the wife’s body, which is then monitored by the eyes of everyone who watches it. This “pornography” also appears in the live streams, as far as the application allows and the security and safety standards it includes.
On the level of individuals, whether ordinary or well-known users, details are frequently shared on live broadcasts, which are now published as separate recordings after the broadcast, and the conversation is either for the owner of the broadcast alone or with his guest, as some applications allow hosting one person and some three persons.
The live broadcasts witness challenges between people after going through a “round” in which the followers support the owners of the broadcasts, and the winner forces the loser to implement provisions that sometimes violate privacy or carry “insult.”
Broadcast followers “friend”
Issa, a university student residing in coastal Latakia city, is active on the Bigo Live Streaming App and creates a broadcast on a daily basis for three hours, from 12 at night until 3 in the morning. He shares with his followers his diaries, his movements, and his relationship with his girlfriend Reem, who is close to becoming his official fiancée.
The young man, 22, told Enab Baladi that he does not see any problem in sharing “some details of his life” through the application, considering that his relationship with the followers has gone beyond the limits of virtual reality, as most of them have been following him since he started his activity on Bigo a year ago, and sharing his behavior and practices with them is like sharing it with his friends.
Issa believes that distancing followers from the details of the broadcaster’s life or the latter’s secrecy about it is repulsive to his audience, as they listen to someone who wants to know his place, work, family, social status, and even his religious, cultural, and political background, especially in chat “streamings” and to a lesser extent than in content creators’ broadcasts.
As for Lama, a girl residing in Latakia who uses Bigo, she told Enab Baladi that the followers’ knowledge of some information such as residence, age, work, family, and how to spend the day is harmless, as long as it does not reach the “deep” privacy, according to her.
The young woman mentioned that her family does not mind her appearing in these broadcasts, and they accept the idea, noting that her father and mother watch her most of the time, and they are aware of what she is talking about.
Fadi, who resides in a camp north of Idlib, also appears in live TikTok broadcasts and considers that the information he provides to followers about his living conditions is normal, as “the reality in northern Syria is clear to everyone and does not need participation at all.”
He pointed out that everyone knows his deteriorating condition, and he only shares information about the situation of his “poor” family of four and the lack of job opportunities for him.
Eight reasons to share privacy
Issa said that he installed the application and started live broadcasts for the sake of financial profit at the beginning, and after watching it from dozens of people, he found the broadcast entertaining and fun, pointing out that he receives from these broadcasts about 600,000 SYP (about $45), and the amount increases depending on the sponsorship.
Lama considered that earning more than 1.5 million SYP (about $112) per month from her broadcasts is something that no girl in Syria would reject these days, adding that the amount is equivalent to ten times her father’s salary and that it is a sufficient reason for her continuation and the sharing of some details with her followers.
As for Fadi, who resides in the north, he said that the need for money was the reason behind his broadcasting. He earns about $80 a month (about 2,150 Turkish liras) from broadcasting, in addition to receiving financial help from some followers by sending money transfers.
To secure such an amount, Fadi must secure a stable work in construction for several months continuously and without interruption.
Lilas Dakhlallah, a researcher in the field of social media, told Enab Baladi that there are several possible reasons that push people to expose their privacy or details of their lives to others.
Dakhlallah summarized the reasons in eight, the first of which is the family vacuum, as many people may resort to social media to escape from family challenges, looking for an alternative from behind the screen.
The second reason is emotional emptiness as a result of the coldness of family and social relations in general. A person resorts to searching for other sources of interest and affection, and he may obtain them by sharing the details of his life with others and their interaction with him, according to Dakhlallah.
She considered that the third reason is that social media is considered a means to obtain a material resource.
The fourth is to obtain more interaction and fame, especially since the social media policy requires continuous publication to increase the number of followers, so a person begins to share everything and any material so that the interaction continues at his expense.
The fifth reason is entertainment, and the sixth is societal pressure. Before social media, societies were under pressure that prevented them from expressing their feelings and ideas, so communication sites invaded human life without a strong awareness of how to use them, and this, of course, led to misuse at times, according to the social media expert.
The researcher believes that the need for social communication is the seventh reason, especially after the high rate of emigration, as a person has become far from his society and his family, and social media has become the available means of communication for most people to share their joys and sorrows.
The eighth reason is influencing others, as there is a category of people who use social media with the aim of spreading certain ideas, regardless of their impact, negative or positive, says Dakhlallah.
Negative effects on individual and society
It is no secret that those who watch live broadcasts and recordings across various platforms use offensive phrases to respond to some comments, including direct or “implicit” “pornographic” phrases, or show some broadcasts of scenes that bear “temptation and pornography.”
Issa explained that some people practice some “immoral” behaviors in order to gain support, such as showing a part of a girl’s leg and foot and asking for support in exchange for communicating in private with those who support the most; an example put forward by the young man, and many similar to it, and this matter made the view towards live broadcasts a negative one.
Dakhlallah said that a person’s participation in certain events in his life plays a role in enhancing communication and social connection, especially in the case of distance and the existence of distances, and it may sometimes be positive and provides a person with the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others.
The expert believes that this participation definitely carries a negative aspect on the individual and society, especially when there is no clear methodology for using social media and the lack of awareness of how to deal in this world.
The most prominent negatives are the loss of privacy and security on the personal and family levels. Social media takes a person out of his reality, and he sometimes lives with idealistic perceptions that affect his stability in his home.
Sharing privacy exposes its owner to dangers, such as exploiting personal information, bullying, harassment, and comparison with others, which has bad psychological effects. People are different, circumstances are different, and each person has his capabilities, according to Dakhlallah.
This participation creates tension and coldness in family life as a result of the high ceiling of expectations, for example, and the strong comparison between reality and assumption, and suicide cases have increased significantly as a result of the excessive negative use of communication sites.
Dakhlallah considered that the sharing of people who consider themselves “influencers” of their personal experiences, whether positive or negative, in an ill-conceived way affects the thinking of others, such as the prevalence of cases of marital infidelity and separation, and there are those who learned from their mistakes and others considered them a motive for separation, as people are sometimes affected “unconsciously.”
The expert pointed out the need for a person to be aware of how to use social media, such as determining the time and aspects that can be shared, setting broad lines that protect him within this virtual world, and setting real human and societal ethical standards for himself.
Dakhlallah believes that human and societal morals do not differ between social media and reality but only appear as they really are, pointing out that censorship on social media is limited, and a person is the only censor over himself, how he is affected by people and how he affects others.
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