This is a Tale of Two Irans

Excerpt from this fascinating article:

This tale focuses on Iran’s next generation, an entirely new generation that came of age well after the Islamic Revolution, and on human capital, the greatest asset a country can have. It’s about technology as the driver for breaking down barriers even despite internal controls and external sanctions. People under age 35 represent nearly two-thirds of Iran’s population at this point: Many were engaged in the Green Movement protests against the Iranian presidential election in 2009. Most are utterly wired and see the world outside of Iran every day — often in the form of global news, TV shows, movies, music, blogs, and startups — on their mobile phones.

Because in reality, Iran is a country where Facebook is banned, yet in the conservative, holy city of Qom a Grand Ayatollah — among the highest echelons of clerics — lamented to us excessive use of Facebook among his grandchildren…

In this nation of 80 million, we were told that there are also over six million Apple iPhones — which, like Facebook, have been banned for years by both global sanctions and the Iranian government. Yet millions of Iranians — not just a few tech-savvy entrepreneurs like the ones I describe here — access sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat as well as online courses (“MOOCs”) from the many global universities, daily. Everyone, of all ages, accesses this unfiltered internet through Virtual Personal Networks (VPNs). In this way, and in the music they love and video they watch, Iran’s wired teens have more in common with their compatriots around the world than with the stark revolutionaries of 40 years ago.

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Shepherd in Iran’s remote village has thousands of Instagram followers

Excerpt from this article:

Mohammad’s Android phone was first bought for him by his older brother whose MBA education in Tehran is supported by Mohammad’s work in the village. Mohammad’s brother helped him set up his Instagram page. Mohammad who lives in the village of Bandar Gaz, says he could not believe the popularity of his simple natural life with city dwellers: “Our work is hard here and as we age we face issues like back pain and arthritis, but we live harmonious with nature, something that seems attractive to city folks who seem stressed but post their images during expensive vacations abroad to show they are relaxed at that moment … I am honestly happy and relaxed here in my village because I feel productive in my life. Unlike famous names, I am not using Instagram to do business with my fame, but to share how productive I am in my natural life.”