“Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.” (Potter Stewart)
“We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.” (John Stuart Mill)
We now live in a world connected through the Internet, social-media and other technologies where the principles of democracy, freedom of speech, assembly and protest have expanded, emboldened and empowered people to change their lives, change their government and even change the world. More than ever before, technology and social-media are providing the means through which people from around the world can learn more about each other, participate in and contribute to, local, national and global economics, education/knowledge and even government. Like Thomas Friedman has stated ever so clearly in his best-selling book, The World is Flat.
On a smaller scale, social-media has expanded our concepts of “community” and “education” by providing individuals with greater access to ideas, knowledge, communication and expanded socialization opportunities. Some of the fundamental principles behind these technologies are ones of community, collaboration, inclusiveness, egalitarianism, openness and knowledge-sharing. These are the fundamental principles which BUILT the Internet itself, and which have encouraged phenomenal innovation and community-building in business, government, education and even individual moral and self-development, possibly even spiritual development. Trying to “put the cat back in the bag” so-to-speak, with regards to social-media and other tools which empower people and build more egalitarian and inclusive communities, will be about as successful as trying to suppress a tornado. Give it up, you won’t succeed and you only look like a clueless troglodyte trying.
Not only have these various Internet and social-media technologies provided the tools and the means by which people can better communicate, collaborate and share information on an equalizing and global platform, but they have changed how people think about their role in society. These technologies and expanded liberal principles have emboldened people to expect MORE INFORMATION, MORE COMMUNICATION and MORE PARTICIPATION in their government, business and educational institutions. They have also emboldened many people to actively PARTICIPATE in and CONTRIBUTE to, their government, business, education and community. Morally, honestly, there is no other way to think of these trends other than being POSITIVE, ENCOURAGING, EMPOWERING and even UTILITARIAN. We might even go so far as saying that the Internet and social-media are playing a fundamental role in the development of, and evolution towards, a more global and egalitarian society where those who embrace these liberal and moral principles can expand those views to countries and people who need them the most. We might even go so far as saying that the Internet and social-media have the potential to build a more informed and compassionate civilization where mutual respect, cooperation and a shared belief in secular ethical principles may give us a better chance of surviving into the future, than the self-destructive, economically determined and somewhat dystopic civilization we see today.
If you are a business, an organization, a government or an educational institution and you feel that social-media or communications between your employees, constituents or students is somehow a threat, you need to do one thing for yourself. Take your head out from your ass, take a look around you and unless you are in China, Syria or any other totalitarian country led by a fascist despot, wake up to the reality of the VALUE, the BENEFITS the UTILITARIAN potential of social-media and the INEVITABILITY that people will talk, people will aggregate, people will communicate and social-media is here to stay! Wake up to the reality that people expect, no they DEMAND, MORE communication, MORE access to knowledge and MORE opportunities to engage, communicate and collaborate and NOT LESS! If you think you can put a stop to or control these technological, communication and social trends, then you truly are clueless and you should move to Syria or some other country where your ideas for control, suppression of basic human rights and limiting access to ideas, knowledge, communication or assembly, are more popular.
If you are in a position where you are making decisions for the sake of others, particularly if you are in a field or industry where the values of knowledge, collaboration, community, inclusiveness and other higher-principles are espoused, and you find there is a reluctance to embrace emerging technological or social trends, you have a choice to make. You can either remain in the past with a naive, misplaced and unethical belief that you can somehow control how, where and what your people will communicate, or, you can choose to recognize the incredible value which open, inclusive and transparent communications can provide you, your organization and the people you represent. You can choose to either feel threatened by these technical and social changes, or you can embrace them and find ways in which to leverage their phenomenal potential to engage people and spread ideas and knowledge.
It literally blows my mind – I am wiping my pea-brain off the computer screen as I write – that there are still companies, governments, institutions and people who feel that social-media is something to fear, something they need to control! Fortunately, if history has shown us anything, dinosaurs like that simply fade away into insignificance while the liberal-minded leaders, the open-minded embracers of new creative ways of thinking and new ways of communicating, lead us all into a new future, a better future. These liberal and open-minded individuals lead us to an expanded notion of what it means to live in a global and egalitarian community where open and transparent communications determined BY the people and FOR the people, prevails. These are the leaders, the movers and shakers of the world. These are the people we need to acknowledge, empower and support and not the ones who may wish to turn the clock back and return us to the far more ignorant, isolated and disconnected civilization we came from where words like “representation” and “management“ are simply euphemism’s for “control” and “suppression”.
I could certainly ramble a great deal more about this topic, but I will leave it at this.