Democracy Depends on Options
// Posted by Kindall on 06/04/2015 (3:43 PM)
Our reading really made me stop and think about technology all around the world. In America, we wear rose-colored glasses as we think about the internet. We see it as a way to expose truths and speak our minds… but what about the use of technology in deceiving others? Enron is astutely mentioned as a prime example of a company using technology and computerization to puff up numbers and lie to clients.
When you consider the video we watched last class on the misconception that internet access will certainly lead to democracy and the ways that technology can be used to deceive people, things start to seem pretty scary.
We already do it in our own nation: Fox News is conservative, CNN is liberal, and in my opinion, Politico is the only bipartisan news outlet out there. But when it comes to where we get our information, we have the ability to shop around and pick a favorite. People in other countries don’t have this choice. Several nations have one, centralized news source which is controlled by the government. It is much like the web browsers that we discussed on Monday that are designed strictly for certain areas, where the material is censored.
Perhaps technology and access to the internet doesn’t always spread democracy. Since the internet can also be tailored to fit the standards and limitations of any regime, (for the first time ever) this American is realizing that technology could be making communism and socialism stronger.
We spoke about North Korea and how they only learn that the outside world is not evil by smuggled material. Without those USBs, those people believe what their government, news, and technology tells them.
Speaking of Politico, here is an interesting article from the perspective of a former reporter for Russia:
“I Was Putin’s Pawn: What it was like to work for the Russian propaganda machine, and why I quit on live TV.”
Viewing these hyper-monitored and censored internet browsers and news networks, is undoubtedly spreading some radical beliefs. This happens in America all the time. The difference here is that there are all types of opinions floating out there. You can look at multiple ideas. In places like North Korea, Russia, China, and ISIS controlled Iraq, you see only what they want you to see. And looking away, closing the tab, or finding another source is not an option.
I think, in many ways, pushing for the spread of technology and the internet in anti-democratic places of the world may come back to bite us. The goal is to expose these people to outsiders’ lives and opinions, but many times- they never see them. Access doesn’t mean freedom, and in many cases, it just means further indoctrination. The reading talks about the relationship of empowerment as it applies to visibility. If only one option is visible… and you’ve never known otherwise, why wouldn’t you believe/empower it?
But in some cases, access is the catalyst for revolution. This link depicts the ways some Middle Eastern nations believe technology helped lead them to a better way of life, politically.