Passing along outrageous news: helping or hurting?

Occupy Wall street. Annonymous. Hactivists. The NSA. Fox News. Edward Snowden. MSNBC. Julian Assange. Al Jazeera. Wikileaks. CNN. Bradey Manning. Associated Press. The 4th Ammendment. The New York Times. Facebook. Twitter. Your text messages.

The list goes on and on… 

This is the battleground of the 21st Century.  There is an all-out war happening right now. Sometimes we don’t’ recognize it, because we think of ammunition and air strikes when we think of war, but those are the tools of the twentieth century. We are in the midst of a fierce battle for the heart, mind, and wallet of the common man.  Sure, the elites may not care what the common man thinks in a particular sense; the only thing that’s important is that the common man’s daily efforts can be taxed sufficiently to keep those cats fat. These taxes come not just in the form of outright taxation, but as interest rates, fees, and artificially high prices for overvalued consumer goods.  In the movie Fight Club, the protagonist Tyler Durden put it eloquently:

“Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”

One thing that makes this war decidedly different from any other war in history is the ubiquity of the battleground and the tools of war… one and the same, residing in virtually every citizen’s pocket:


Think of it. Virtually every child and adult in our society has a device in their pocket that allows them to publish things that anyone in the world can read via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  Social media is playing an increasingly important role in political change. We’ve seen it in other nations, and of course, those same forces are brewing in America.

The desire, coupled with the ability to expose “the truth” can be nearly intoxicating.

“89 yr old woman sentenced to 30 yrs with no parole for importing banned strain of petunias”

“Father of two beaten to death by cops for failure to stop completely”

“Area man given 3 consecutive life sentences for minor pot possession charges”

…things like that. You see them. News stories about nearly incomprehensible disgregard for due process, the law, and any sense of reason in sentencing.  Stories like this make me furious and scared. Do they make you feel that way?  It’s super tempting to re-tweet, to share, to ‘like’, to otherwise re-broadcast these stories to our friends online.  BUT….

One must consider two things before clicking “share”.

1. Is the story true?

2. What effect will sharing this story have on the collective consciousness?

Point #2 is the one I want to focus on.  For now, it may suffice to say that in this information war, there are government and corporate operatives out there blogging, writing, tweeting, posting misinformation.  Because the truth is so easy to share, those whose fortunes are threatened by the truth have no other weapon but to obfuscate it with disinformation. This is where the term “conspiracy theory” came from, along with the automatic chiding of anyone who espouses a point of view that differs from the story being fed to us via Fox, MSNBC, or CNN.  There’s a great chance that sensational stories are just that – poorly reported, distorted versions of something that may or may not have happened.

BUT – what if the story IS true?

Let’s say you share a news story about an “”Area man given 3 consecutive life sentences for minor pot possession charges”. The next time you want  to excercise your God-given right to partake of certain plants, you will think about this story. Regardless of what you do, you’ll be tempted to act in a less than free way.

Edward Snowden is a great example: Many government officials have said they want him dead, plain and simple. What message does this send? Say the wrong thing, expose the wrong politician, and you’ll end up dead.  The next time you find a story about the gross abuses of

David Puttnam discusses a “Duty Of Care” when it comes to the information we propagate:

We are in the middle of an information war.  The ammunition of this war is misinformation. The fortresses are opaque laws, secret courts and a government that won’t obey the Constitution.

The superheros of our day are the freaks of nature who gain access to the information that is so fastidiously covered up, and then share it with the world.  Julian Assange. Bradley Manning. Edward Snowden.

It’s a brave thing to take part  in the information war.

The internet makes it easy to share information.

Stories about individual people are more common.

Sharing stories about individual occurrences of bad things is a good thing, right?

What effect does it have on the dozens, hundreds, thousands, or maybe millions of people who read a story about something terrible that happened to one person?

Who is to say that story is entirely correct?

Even if it is… is it serving the cause of freedom to share it?

Is it possible that by sharing stories of outstanding individual atrocities, we are inadvertently participating in fear mongering and helping further the agenda that we are supposedly fighting against?




Leave a Reply

You May Also Like