Sunday, December 05, 2010

mixed feelings about wikileaks

this cartoon, by danish cartoonist jens hage, appeared in berlinske tidende last wednesday.
it says (from left to right) "threatens national security"
"it costs lives"
"a bomb under the international cooperation"

like many of us, i've been thinking about wikileaks of late. my initial feeling is that the release of all of these internal government documents about the wars in iraq and afghanistan brings a new level of democracy about these things that our tax money pays for. a level of democracy we weren't getting from our own governments. we are, after all, footing the bill for these things, so shouldn't we know the truth?

then, the latest wave of diplomatic documents were released. and these begin to feel a bit more like it would feel if you and the homecoming queen were very good friends and you came into possession of her diary. and you read it and you found out what she really thinks about you. and it isn't pretty.

not being a diplomat, i have a little bit of a smug, people-at-that-level-should-know-better attitude about the whole thing and i don't feel that sorry for them. but what if everyone's private conversations between peers or good friends and colleagues were suddenly public information? i've said loads of things i wouldn't want to be quoted for, especially not in public. and saying those things is a safety valve of sorts...letting off steam, releasing the pressure, so that you can go about your normal life and do your job and remain on an even keel. but there is a need for making wild sweeping statements or a need to laugh about things that are serious - like referring to putin and medvedev as batman and robin. we do it all the time. i have a bad habit of giving people nicknames - usually ones that i'd never call them to their face. and i'd be pretty embarrassed if those things were revealed because someone was secretly documenting them.

so i guess it leaves me with mixed feelings about wikileaks. interestingly, as much of a netizen as i am, i haven't actually gone to the site to read any of it myself. i'm still getting it through the filter of my daily newspaper, CNN, BBC World and online sources like the new york times and the guardian. and i have to ask, how democratic is that?

2 comments:

Karen said...

You express exactly what I've been thinking, and you've put it more eloquently than I would be capable.

Ulimately I think this is a hornet's nest that perhaps should have not been rattled quite so vigorously. Time will tell...

Helen said...

Just reminds us over and over and ,.. over... be careful what you say and where you put those words ....

Scary isn't it, don't get too comfortable with technology.