The Internet is replacing past mediums (books, magazines, radio, television, etc.) as the main way information or data is distributed. Benefiting from the speed and scope “Web 2.0” has to offer, society can now know about cultural events and movements around the globe within minutes. Learning of the tragic plight of Ugandan children being enslaved by Joseph Kony and his horrible Christian sect (the Lords Resistance Army) is important and knowledge of a political figure in an election such as president Obamas 2008 campaign is obviously important and possible through the internet. Although the Internet has made this facet of modern society more accessible, it brings a new set of ethical questions to the table and a re-evaluation of how we judge media is necessary in the face of such serious change.
It would be hard to argue that President Obama was elected simply from his Internet campaign and not the American people’s ability to judge and perceive two (or more) men comparing themselves on many stages. But although the race might have still been close if McCain ran a good web campaign, that is assuming the rest of Obama’s campaign was below standards for modern politics, when in reality it was all a part of the same movement.
In Claire Miller’s article the mayor of San Francisco says, “There will be a lot of collateral damage coming to grips with the fact that we’re in a reality TV series, ‘Politics 24/7,’” Mr. Newsom said. This demonstrates that although this is a great new way to spread knowledge of a person or idea, it is also a way for the idea to distort and furthermore be “TV”. It is important that the political discussions take place and thanks to the Internet, they will, but it is also important that the Internet is not used to fool people because they aren’t treating it with the same skepticism one uses towards a television commercial. Most things are still a constructed advertisement, or in other words, a well-planned and thought-out manipulation.
In Claire Suddath’s article on how the Invisible Children’s most recent movement “Kony 2012” was the fastest growing viral video. If you were on the Internet during this period, you saw your fair share of (mostly kids) re-posting/sharking the video link. While it is beautiful to see such compassion possible in a 1st world culture and seeing that American kids care about these international travesties is very comforting, it is disturbing that the emotion that’s displayed and fueling the movement is not empowering enough for the majority of promoters to do their own research on the issue. Whether it is the celebrities that promote the issue heavily, or the teen that would feel guilty to not “share” the link, both are flocking and this behavior is likely to occur more and more due to the kind of gullibility that’s possible via a new “magical” medium.
The story of American involvement against Joseph Kony goes far back before the viral videos were seen, and it was in the sending of just less than 200 special troops by President Obama that this was established. The Lord’s Resistance Army was soon fleeing into seclusion and by the time the charity’s video was circulating, Joseph Kony was less of a threat than the violent/genocidal governments of the area. Invisible Children, having a horrible charity rating, is and has been a debated charity for some time, not to mention within a few months of the videos release, the director/star was recorded on cellphones in the streets of Los Angeles, high on drugs and touching himself while screaming obscenities, butt-naked. Within minutes TMZ and other similar entities were circulating this video in an ironically similar way the Kony video was spread.
In conclusion, while it is beautifully beneficial to have the internet and computers as a faster more efficient way to communicate and function, it is also worrying because the speed in which things are produced and digested are not yet “natural”. The mechanisms responsible for establishing the new and necessary perception of the Internet and its various data are still forming in our collective-conscience (or social norms, if you will).