This post is a bit hard to write, since I’m typing it on my cousin’s horribly configured laptop. The built-in mouse buttons like to click whenever they feel like it and touching the little mousepad (you know what I mean–that square thing on most new laptops you use to move the mouse on the screen) while the page is loading moves me back several pages in my browsing history. Laptops today, I swear… my IBM ThinkPad is several years old, runs perfectly, and isn’t a piece of plastic crap. (Well… no.)
Anyhow, this post is not about how much I hate recent laptop models. It’s about–to completely change the tone–propaganda, exposee, and citizen journalism.
Whilst my soon-to-be-thirty cousin and second-cousin played cards and drank margaritas, I, in a sad attempt to keep myself amused, went on a massive Digg binge (for the proof, see my poor del.icio.us account, stacked with massive amounts of new articles). One of the things that struck me was the number of exposees and anti-propaganda articles/videos. A recent one that was pretty big among digg users was the video on YouTube of a student at UCLA being tasered by campus police in the library for (apparently) not having his student ID. This video documentary comparing the Abu Ghraib scandal to prisons in the US is one I’m watching now that I’m sure would never be aired on US television (it’s BBC).
It seems like the natural thing to do now when you witness an injustice is to capture it and go directly to the web. Cases in point–South Korea’s “dog poop girl,” who refused to clean up after her dog on a subway and whose photo (taken with a cellphone camera) was posted on the internet and spread around until her identity was known and she was subject to hundreds of personal attacks, and Dan Hoyt, photographed by the same method masturbating on a New York subway and was prosecuted. In the past week alone, there have been more than half a dozen cases of someone videotaping police viciously beating a suspect with a cellphone and posting it on YouTube.
Now, it seems to me like the internet is turning into a sort of police in itself. If you have evidence, video or otherwise, of some injustice, the smart thing to do nowadays is take it to the internet and let that collective entity be the judge. It’s been proven that the internet can actually ruin someone’s life–Korea’s dog poop girl quit university because she was being constantly mocked on- and offline–but most of the time it simply calls for justice. When thousands of people around the world see a wrong and demand to have it corrected, it’s hard to say no. The internet is, in a sense, pure democracy; it’s a rule by the people.
The only downside to this is that this makes us all prone to a concept that Stephen Colbert coined ‘Wikiality': fact by consensus. Hence all the articles on the ‘net about vandalism on Wikipedia that went undiscovered until someone tried to verify the facts and found out that they were all wrong. In fact, in the episode of the Colbert Report that Colbert coined the term ‘Wikiality’, he urged viewers to edit the Wikipedia entry on elephants to say that the population of African elephants had tripled in the last six years to prove his point–leading to that Wikipedia article being sealed off by Wiki staff because of excessive vandalism.
I’d like to wrap this all up in a neat conclusion, but it’s 1am and my cousins have been giving me non-virgin margaritas all evening. My mind = dead. I’m not even sure this post has a point, or is just a bunch of scattered thoughts on the same thing… but I’ll revise it tomorrow when I’m awake and using a laptop that doesn’t suck.