The advancement of technology is gradually widening our scope and shrinking the size of what we dub to be “our world.” The farthest ends of the world are now accessible by surfing the Internet for news sites, blogs and social media platforms. If there’s a broken ATM in Ireland dishing out free cash, you’ll know it before the authorities.
If government officials across the world are using excessive force in response to peaceful protests, the citizens of that country may not even be fully aware of the situation, but you will be. If a celebrity gets caught smoking a joint or forgets to wash their hands after using the bathroom, you’ll be informed before you get a chance to check the weather report. The world is now connected in a way where information on global happenings is not only readily available, but unavoidable.
All of this information floating about has spurred people — our generation especially — to action. Generation-Y has been groomed to be better accepting of differences that may arise between groups of people, religious sects, countries and races. We are more open-minded than previous generations and are keener on making a difference in the world — having our voices heard. We are more aware of the importance that having unalterable rights has on us as individuals, as human beings.
We are more respecting of the ideas of others and although we may not agree with what others say, we use our words to make our opposing views known — not our fists. Our generation, statistically, is more educated than any generation prior. We are more aware of what goes on in the world and because we believe ourselves to be intelligent, we are unable to sit back and watch as others are wronged — even if it be those that we have never met and have no tangible tie to.
Of course, this is not always the case. Generally, however, I believe my argument to hold true. It should be of no surprise that in the last decade we have seen more ‘revolutions’ against government officials than we have in the handful of decades prior. This is, in large part, due to the availability of information. Governments have always done their best to keep their people in check and to keep the information that is leaked to the public at a minimum.
All government bodies have committed atrocities in the past — our government included. In the past, covering up a massacre or governmental intervention was a much easier task. Just as any leak, you find the hole and you cover it up. The bigger the conspiracy, the more numerous and bigger the holes, but because information traveled as slowly as it did in the past, covering up the holes was not a difficult task. Nowadays there are more holes than there is solid ground to stand on.
Information is traveling at such incredible speeds that before government officials can pinpoint the problem, the leaks have multiplied exponentially and the possibility of plugging them up becomes void. When there is a revolution in a country, it is not only very difficult to prevent it from spreading within the country, it is difficult to keep the ideals driving said revolution from sparking a new revolution in another country. This is what we have seen in recent years — revolutions spreading like wildfire.
With this come both the good and the bad. Assuming that government bodies are involved in an injustice, then it is my belief that they ought to be held accountable for it. However, it is not only the citizens of a country that are able to have their words heard; outside forces are using this newfound information age to spread their propaganda globally.
Let’s take the country of Turkey for example. Now, I by no means claim to be an expert on all that is going on in the country, but I have recently visited and I have spoken to some locals on the subject of their Prime Minister Erdogan. Erdogan has made sure that all media outlets in the country refrain from covering the protests going on across the country. He has been publicly blaming outside forces (Hezbollah to be specific) for spreading propaganda within the country and helping the flame to continue burning.
Now, this may be total poppycock — but maybe not. Maybe there is some truth to it; I don’t find it hard to believe that those who would benefit from the downfall of the Turkish government would do their best to keep the protests ongoing. Those that I have spoken to sing a different song. They claim that Erdogan does not want to let go of his Prime Ministry (he has advocated bringing the presidency to Turkey in the past) and because he knows that he will lose his position come next election, he is doing his best to leave Turkey in havoc. For when he is removed from his position, he wishes for the country to take notice of how bad things are now that the next PM is in charge.
Who should one believe? The truth is that it is difficult if not impossible to tell. Most likely there is a bit of truth in both pleas. Erdogan could be full of it, but at the same time believing that there are groups out there that would use social media to spread propaganda is not unthinkable — in fact, it seems smart. The more information you spread, the more you can piss people off and spur them to action — no matter whether the information you are giving is true or not.
We have all seen this before, but never on such a grand and rapid scale. Fallacies will spread just as quickly as truths; fallacies will usually spread more quickly because they are catered in a way to entice the beholder, appealing to their compassionate side and their pride. All you need is a good made-up story based on false premises and promises to move an entire nation to revolt.
Another important thing to consider is whether actual leaks are always released for the greater good. Sure, that may be the intention — but letting information out into the public can do as much harm as it does good. Some people are calling Snowden a hero, others a terrorist. Which is correct? What can you possibly base your judgment on? Information is nothing but information. It is the way that it is used that should be deemed as of importance.
Leaked information that you may feel is harmless may do more damage than good. Of course, the intentions were good; but if the actions resulting from good intentions result in a catastrophe, is the original action of letting the information leak good or bad? Information is a powerful, mutable weapon that can do good or harm depending on who wields it. This smartphone revolution that we are all part of is likely to move our species to a better place. This, however, is not to say that bodies will not drop until we figure out exactly how to best utilize this newfound weaponry. Tread carefully friends.
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