The internet is a wonderful but lawless land. It is open to all, regardless of age or ethnicity, religion, nationality, political party or moral persuasion.
It is this latter quality, unrestrained moral persuasion, that makes the internet a lawless land. And the most powerful force on the planet for good.
Who roams there?
Identity thieves, hackers, child-hunting perverts, deceitful people pretending to be who they are not, manipulators, slanderers. Angry people. Men who post naked pictures of ex-girl friends on line. Trolls. Stalkers. Casual slanderers. Destructive hackers. Anonymous people who roam about spouting revolution or even terror.
Google, tracking your every click.
|Photo source: socratezonline|
Facebook, revealing your intimate details to friends who can reveal you to the whole world.
Let me tell you, it is a dangerous place.
Convenient, no doubt. Cool. Far reaching. Amazing knowledge is available at the click of a mouse.
Some countries such as Iran and China build walls to keep unsavory internet information offshore. Their net is managed. It is their way of forcing integrity, or their version of the law, onto the wild beast that is the world-wide-web. And they seek to punish those who don't abide by their thinking.
There are hackers and blog site operators who share the values of Iran and China. They abhor those who think differently, or attack, not the ideas, but the person who would have the audacity to break with their thinking. They bully and slander and deceive and damage, and, like Iran and China, or old-school Filipino tribal lords, cannot comprehend a different way forward.
But there is no courtroom on the internet, no regulator.
There is only open-sourced integrity. And there is a lot of that around.
Integrity is the desire to be constructive within a huge community. The internet forms the most brilliant brain in the world, dedicated to acquiring all knowledge and spreading it. The potential to do harm or even destroy is large, but subordinate to good will, for now. The internet is more angel than devil.
How will we use this power?
The Philippines is a place where archaic values and the forces of the internet collide. The internet is a broadminded institution, the broadest. It advocates all ideologies simultaneously. It brooks no censorship, no control. Because it is completely free-thinking, it is also a massive exercise in checks and balances.
Archaic censorship values confront Lady Gaga and get blasted back to the dark ages by the free-wheeling internet. "I'm not a creature of your government, Manila!", she roars defiantly, and launches into the Christian- condemned "Judas". I figure that video is going viral about the time of this posting.
Well now, Lady Gaga may have just coined a superb motto for the internet.
"I'm not a creature of your government, Manila!"
Government officials hang onto the misconception that they have some kind of special privilege, the right to be thuggish bosses. To hide their illicit transactions, like in the old days. To lord it over the masses. To intimidate and bluster and threaten. But it's a new world. The forces of public awareness and condemnation, marshaled on the internet, strip them naked.
Senator Santiago can rant and she will be ranted at. It is not her world any longer. Hers to manipulate.
Senators of the archaic mold may think they can push away the wave of public confrontation that is smacking the Chief Justice into humiliation. They may think they are immune, powerful enough to hold challenge of their own SALN's at bay. Maybe they can. For a month. For a year. For three years.
But eventually, they, too, will go down if they adhere to the misconception they can abide by two masters: greed and public service. If they think they can hide. Too many sharp eyes are on the lookout, using the power of the internet to spread information that crooks until now have kept locked in a desk drawer. Somehow it will find its way to the Ombudsman, or a journalist. Or a popular blogger. Or a viral video.
Big Brother is not a government agency, spying on the people. It is the people, holding the government to account.
Values that no longer work are revealed for their failure.
Totalitarianism, big and small, in the cloaks of religion, the robes of scurrilous judges, or the suits of autocrats, cannot stand where there is a robust sharing of information, real time. And where there is a conscience.
And, if we are vigilant, those on the internet who have no integrity will, in due time, be consigned to the dustbins of irrelevance.
There can be no return to dark age thinking when enlightenment shines brighter than it ever has.
Aim high. Shoot straight.