Tuesday, February 7, 2012

America The Anxious, America The Paranoid

“You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world” - The Beatles
We will preface this entry with the following: We are American. We are nobody. We are not a threat to the United States insofar as we feel we have a right to free speech, and we desire to exercise it, while we still can. At the end of this you may label us a conspiracy theorist*, crazy, completely off base, ignorant, stupid. We can accept that. We would die for our given rights of free speech, because it’s a right worth dying for; we just hope it won't hurt too much. This is our opinion.

The power behind this entry started weeks ago with our outrage, matching that of many, with the Congressional bill known as PIPA/SOPA, Censored: The More You Know. A bill Congress put into play for a pass which most people viewed as purely a piracy (illegal downloads of media) issue, berating those trying to stop it, while backed with very little information or research of their own, and the belief that people on the internet have no power. Deeper into the bill was obscurity that could be easily manipulated down the road, language that could have easily provided loopholes into any number of actions by the government in the name of security and patriotism, starting with basic censorship, a component of freedom of speech. The government already has the right to track or wiretap anyone’s phone they see fit, detain your laptop at the international border, restrict entrance to the United States based on your mental health history, as we mentioned in our entry Doing Freedom Right, Our 9/11 Post; meaning they're infringing on the privacy of foreigners. It's not beyond the borders of obvious that they have the ability to create a bill, or law, that may eradicate freedom on the internet.

Having said this, yes, piracy is an issue, but the likelihood for them to control such a thing is beyond a mere bill(1). Piracy goes back from before the internet when people copied VHS, and audio cassettes...you remember those archaic mediums, don't you?

The truth is something like PIPA/SOPA could have had dangerous privacy and freedom hindering results, and so the people who saw this acted accordingly and helped raise awareness, succeeding in stamping out the bill, for the time being. It's unlikely to think 115,000 websites including Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, and more (2), would have taken such a stand for something as base as piracy. They saw the danger, as did many.

How do we know any of this? Where are our opinions coming from? From thought and consideration, and people exercising their freedom of speech and exchange of information over the internet, which incidentally caused waves, and was finally the driving force the the stalemate of the bill in question.

The internet is a scary place…particularly for the people in control.

So scary that the FBI is seeking a developer to create a monitoring application for social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter(3), despite the fact that they are already monitoring it, albeit poorly, based on a recent news article out of Britain about two young people detained, and denied and barred entry into the USA because of a tweet on Twitter (4 & 4b).Yep...because terrorists would totally tweet about their plans...clearly, and with detail, on an open forum in front of millions of people. Obviously.

Today the irritating stone in our shoe reached its peak, came home to roost, driving us to write this entry after we read a message from The Father in our Facebook inbox, no doubt prompted by our sharing of the news article in question, on Facebook, regarding the two 20-something British couple. The Father expressed his concerns over a tweet we had posted over the weekend. (yes, for those of you who don't know it, our father indeed follows our blogs, our Twitter account, and is our Facebook friend)

He wrote us the following: “The build a bear idea on twitter could be cause for concern. every tweet is stored in the library of Congress and they key on certain words like what you mentioned putting in the bear.” 

The tweet in question: 
Now, he is an average Republican American. He does not suffer from any medicated mental health issues, he is not generally the paranoid type, that we have ever been aware of.

This made us more sad than anything, that people, our own father even, are being reduced to worry and concern, possibly fear, over something that falls under freedom of speech and expression. We responded, trying to say what we could to offer some understanding about how we feel about the issue, "It should be fine, and you know what, if they take Tweets like that seriously then there is a serious problem, a real threat is not likely to post things like that in [an] open forum. And if something happens, we are willing to go through interrogation and stand up for our American rights. We didn't threaten America, or even an American."

Now granted, the Tweet we wrote wasn't the nicest, but if you are familiar with Twitter it was pretty tame by some standards, and it was the result of our distress with being in public; Twitter is our outlet that provides us a level of sanity (as is this blog). Anyway, we're not here to defend our right to express our thoughts and feelings.

Wait. Yes we are.

What is scary about the internet, to the people in high power, in the growing world of social media and internet; a platform where people can share thoughts, experiences, opinions and ideas...freely; is it is a danger when one is trying to accomplish underhanded deeds. Just ask China about how their government feels about exchange of information and opinions.

The internet is a powerful place for social movements, for bringing together ordinary people with similar views to fight for a common cause(6). Say what you will about the people involved in the Occupy movement, and their motives, they were and are exerting their right to express their displeasure with the government, and the way things are in the world.

The internet is the birthplace of many other movements besides the Occupy movement of 2011, for instance the Egyptian uprising; the Spanish M-15  movement was organized on the internet; even part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) protest of Seattle back in 1999 was organized via the world wide web. The recent movement against SOPA/PIPA was completely internet based, a result that could have been hindered post-SOPA/PIPA bill, had it been allowed to pass. This place has power.

America is paranoid and anxious and the government likes them that way. Post 9/11, over the past decade, the rise in medications has increased by 29% in anti-depressants alone, and does not include anti-anxiety medications, or anti-psychotics, which have also risen sharply(5).  Paranoid, anxious, and sedated people are easy to control, easy to manipulate, easy to medicate, easy to capitalize on. In 1977 psychoanalyst Rollo May commented on anxiety, writing, “[Anxiety] has certainly come out of the dimness of the professional office into the bright light of the marketplace.” (7)

In developed countries around the world, France, The UK, Spain, you name them, they are faced with multiple terrorist attacks (xi), yet the freedom their government provides is seemingly unwavering, their government doesn't tap their phone, spread fear and misinformation(8). They aren't on tons of antidepressants, they aren't constantly living in fear. Why is America so anxious, so paranoid? In the land of the free and the home of the brave...they are becoming neither.

Everything feels like a fear tactic, an attempt against strong-holding the soul of America, to censor the country. Stay paranoid, stay anxious, stay sedated, it makes them money and helps them accomplish atrocities like stripping away freedom.

Maybe we’re just being…paranoid. We just think it’s best to be alert when you are a mouse living in the lions den, and we feel threatened. And we feel angry. And we feel scared.

This is just a jumping off point to many a topic. There are several directions we could have taken with this entry - further exploring our opinion that government profits from it’s fear tactics with prescription medication, and that people don't really like to think anyway because they feel powerless, and they are lazy; that religion has fallen out of favor over the course of history, and medication and public fear is a growing in attempt to regain the control that some theorize religion was created for in the first place; that it's easier to control a society that is anxious, paranoid, poor and has fallen under economic hardship. OR, how the Motion Picture Association, the same people who backed Congress in the SOPA/PIPA bill, recently funded a report (propaganda) to link piracy to organized crime and terrorism.

But we don’t have all day, and we've already ran around the track and probably got you lost. Also our blog isn't just for spouting our growing concern, and wack-o-noodle theories, about the country we were once so proud to be a part of; a country whose national anthem once brought proud tears to our eyes, before we started to pay attention, to think about the things we read and were being told. A country we miss, despite the fear we have for it's people, and the road it is going down backed with it's staunch blind patriotism. And we'd also like our family members not to feel fear for us just because we speak our mind. Too much to ask?

At the end of the day though, the internet is a place to share information and concepts, opinions, to connect with people. Fight against censorship, fight against the powerless feeling, to be heard, to hear others, to share in the human experience like never before. Some do it. Some don't.

What good it is to solicit that your country is better than others because it has freedoms, if you don't exercise your right to use them; it's like having a Lexus (or some equally fancy car) in your garage, but never diving it.
*"The term "conspiracy theory" is frequently used by scholars and in popular culture to identify secret military, banking, or political actions aimed at stealing power, money, or freedom, from "the people" In Defense Of Consiracy Theories, June 26, 2011 http://truth-consciousness.com/2011/06/in-defense-of-conspiracy-theories/

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We could have probably used an editor for this piece...

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