Well, it seems that every time I watch the news, I find yet another contemporary subject to rant about. The only difference is, this time, the rant has some justification.
I was watching one of the primetime news channels (can’t remember which one), when a story came on about the coming rise of “E-justice,” or what I prefer to call WikiJustice. WikiJustice is simple: if the police can’t or won’t take on a case (they see it as “too minor”, or something of that nature), then you spread information about the case all over the Internet, until you build up a loyal network of supporters, who go after the people in question.
Well, this would certainly seem like a good idea. Unfortunately, it’s like Communism: looks really good on paper, but in practice, it puts too much power in the hands of the wrong people. Because, as outgrowths of this WikiJustice, you have WikiVengeance. There are now entire sites devoted to publicly slandering your ex-partner. These bits of gossip are, as far as I can tell, not screened for truth in any fashion. There have been cases recently where people have been falsely accused of having STDs, and have been ruthlessly attacked and hacked away at by an unmerciful public.
As I sat and watched this report, I was reminded about something that we discussed in my Global Connections class a week or two ago. We were talking about just how much of Orwell’s 1984 came true later on. Now, it seems, yet another of the book’s dire prophecies has been realized: you can trust no one, because anybody could potentially accuse you of disloyalty to The Party, and what will follow is months or years of brutal torture in our own modern-day Ministry of Love — the Internet.
The report went on to yet further abuses of information: webcams to catch lousy tippers or cheating lovers. We are construcing the seeds of our own society’s doom: a vast network of nervous snitches who hurry to denounce someone else, lest they be denounced themselves.
Isn’t anybody else concerned about this?
And one final note in relation to 1984. I noticed a further parallel earlier, concerning the true mutability of information on the Internet. It brought to mind these words:
The past was erased, the erasure forgotten; the lie became truth.
George Orwell (1984)