Conversation with 964media

Iraqi influencer on redefining culture in the age of social media

BAGHDAD, 12 January — Hussein Saadoun, a researcher and content creator with a focus on cultural matters, has been active in presenting intellectual and cultural ideas and interpretations of global authors and philosophers for years. His use of social media and quick video content has brought him closer to the general public. Saadoun has become a known figure in cultural and intellectual forums in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in addition to his following among young Iraqis interested in culture and books.

In a conversation with 964media about culture, the elite, and their relationship with social media, Saadoun addressed several points:

On Adapting to Societal Changes: “It requires descending into reality and using new tools to understand and address society, away from traditional methods,” Saadoun remarked about the need for change in Iraq’s cultural production. He shared his experience in Saudi Arabia, observing, “I attended cultural cafes equipped with modern technology for seminars and book readings, something we lack.”

Regarding the ‘Cultural Milieu’: Saadoun criticized the closed nature of the cultural elite, stating, “The term ‘cultural milieu’ is closed to a few individuals and entities monopolizing culture, isolated from the street with a weak voice.”

Influencers Shaping Public Opinion: Highlighting the shift in public discourse, Saadoun observed, “Social media and celebrities now drive public opinion in Iraq,” citing the example of a social media influencer’s presence at a military parade.

Connecting with Audiences: Emphasizing the need for relatable content, he said, “For literature and art to be impactful, they should engage the audience in their language, using screens and organizing public events like competitions.”

Social Media as a Cultural Venue: On the role of platforms like TikTok and YouTube, Saadoun noted, “These platforms have become significant for presenting books and culture in a modern language and with advanced techniques.”

Responding to Personal Attacks: Saadoun shared his approach to criticism, saying, “I ignore personal attacks as a sign that my content is impactful. Constructive criticism on content and information is beneficial for future improvement.”

On Cultural Gatherings: He commented on the limited impact of traditional cultural gatherings, stating, “These sessions are only engaging those within the sector, in an ‘ivory tower’, expecting the public to reach out to them.”