The media has had an absolute ball in the last week feasting on the carcas of the international “free information,” website WikiLeaks. I won’t pretend I have read every article, or even that I’ve read the infamous “leak,” (which to be quite honest, makes me think of going to the bathoom) itself which has sent world media into a frenzy. But it has made me re-think some of my opinions.
I did a media degree in New Zealand, it was a thoroughly challenging course and if I go on anymore about how much I enjoyed it I will sound like I’m being paid by my ex-tertiary provider to advertise it (I wouldn’t say no AUT, go on, give a graduate a break!) and as a result of such study I feel that a certain amount of the wool which media so easily pulls over “we – the people’s,” eyes has been removed from my own and been replaced with what one of my old lecturers called “sceptical spectacles.”
This week I have tried my best to polish those sceptical spectacles and read what I have with them firmly pressed on my nose and though I have tried to think of just what the rammifications of these leaks will be for the world, I can’t. I can’t predict that just like no one could really predict the September 11, 2001 tragedy.
However, I have had my opinion about “free information,” challenged to the core. Which I think is a good thing, a twenty-one year old cannot be so sure of their opinions so as to not be open to others’ opinions too after all.
You see after I finished uni, I had this idea – and people will recall my bleating on about it – that all information should be easily accessible to all people. In an ideal world it would be presented exactly as it is, without mediation unless it was to make it easier to understand, and without ridiculous jargon to the people – you and I – who get to make decisions about the world. It would be there to educate us about how the systems of power operate.
This idea is all fine and good in theory – heck, I sure thought so. But this WikiLeaks business has made me re think.
I wrote a book last month, a personal account of my life – and in that book is personal information about myself. But I got to choose how much I put in there, and I will choose ultimatley how it is edited and presented to the public (if ever it is), and the idea of not being able to choose how much of myself to reveal to the public is not a very enticing thought.
In fact, it seems wrong – in a personal scenario – that information about me should be shared so willingly with whom so ever should care to read it.
WikiLeaks has challened my whole idea about public vs. private… and in the same way that Utilitarianism as a moral theory works as long as it doesn’t involve me as the sacrifice for the greater good of others… the idea of knowing all information about goverments and world decisions sounds grand and utopian… but where does the line get drawn?
I think it’s only fair that we know as much as possible about major world decisions, but what about peoples personal affairs?
What about the person in WikiLeaks article who is a Mother, has kids and rent bills to pay and all those mundane things of life… but who now also, simply because of her job… has all of this part of her life on display to you and I?
I don’t think I’m completley comfortable knowing it, knowing that we’re all just people who at the end of the day, are pretty much the same – and completley the same in God’s eyes.