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On Egypt, Facebook, Wikileaks & Net Censorship

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

On Egypt, Facebook, Wikileaks & Net Censorship

Andrew Ryan

In a desperate attempt to quell the dissent amongst its frustrated citizens, Egypt’s current government has shut down the internet. First to go was Twitter, then Facebook, then ALL OF IT, in a few minutes. But despite the obvious limitations this poses, the Egyptian people, who have had enough of their aging and corrupt ruler, and the shitty conditions and restrictions they’ve had to endure for the last 30 years, continue organising their protests and working together to keep the revolution going. It’s taking a little longer to reach each other, sure, but they’re still communicating, planning, and protesting.

This really is an incredible thing to witness. Egypt’s shit has hit the fan as a direct result of Tunisia’s shit hitting the fan a few weeks ago. The Tunisian citizens were successful in that their dirty old leader was forced to resign after 28 years of bullshit, even though many were killed- or have killed themselves- in the process. Egypt is in a very similar boat, so with the Wikileaks release of more cables to do with the Egyptian government coming to light, and Tunisian President Ben Ali jumping on a plane and getting the fuck out of there, the timing was right for the people of Egypt to band together and try to oust President Mubarak in a similar fashion.

Some are touting the two events as the first “Wikileaks Revolution”, and while I don’t like the name, for all intents and purposes, it may as well be just that. The increased confidence- in not only your humanitarian outrage, but your political beliefs- that must come when the rest of the world expresses their horror at the conditions that exist in the country you live in once it is released to the public view, can only be liberating and empowering. It may not be possible for these uprisings to have started without the presense of Wikileaks, and without the continued coverage by Al-Jazeera which has – disgustingly – been hindered by the shutting down of all broadcasts of the network within the country, it would be even harder.

It is incredible, fascinating, and terrifying. As with any new occurrence in the world, it takes a while to adjust current modes of behaviour to fit with the new information/system. It has taken a good few years for international governments to realise that Wikileaks is truly a force to be reckoned with, and now that they have, these reactions we have witnessed against the free distribution of secret and/or sensitive documents is the noisy denial of the current system’s own broken neck.

Each government has rules and modes of practise in place that existed before the internet, back when it was pretty fucking easy to hush ethical indiscretions up. They have continued down this road, being all sneaky and double-speaky, maintaining the absolute control and power we’re used to. But now, I can only hope that it is becoming more obvious that it might just be better to not fuck up in the first place.

As a born and bred citizen of Australia, it is hard to put one’s self in the shoes of a person who isn’t Caucasian and English speaking- this country encourages a unhealthy level of acceptance of shit, a flippant attitude towards emotional distress, and the championing of good, honest, lower to middle class economic hardship: “Suck it up princess, shit happens. You may be up shit creek now, but pull your socks up and just get on with it” etc… The “Aussie Way” just doesn’t cut it when it comes to mass torture for expressing your beliefs when the government is too corrupt to care about the lives of its citizens. We are a lucky nation of people because we don’t know what it’s like to live like that, but for me, it brings with it a sense of hopelessness. The only country I know is one covered in cotton wool, one in which most of the men and women are still a bit racist, feed their children chemicals to “calm them down”, and hate on vegetarians for being “Unorstrayan” because that famous guy on the TV told them to. How could I ever hope to make a difference here, where it is needed the most? How can we shift the collective consciousness, at least in this country, to be more open to difference and change, more welcoming to those who have seen the worst in humanity and are just looking for a break from turmoil?

Thankfully, the human beings on this planet that are directly affected by war mongerers and puppet leaders and all of the shit things that have happened since…. forever, are now all intimately connected with each other, and with members of society who care, through social networking, forums, youtube and even stupid internet memes. There are a large amount of us who are more global citizens than national citizens, and there definitely exists a global culture completely separate from our national ones. Young people who practically live on the internet are finding themselves more and more involved in this global culture, picking up information as it appears on their computer screen, unknowingly solidifying a new age of human beings. It looks as if a world-managerial change that acknowledges this fact is just on the horizon, but until then, there are most likely going to be more uprisings, more attempts at internet censorship, and less honesty from our governments. If we’re prepared, we might just come out of it enlightened. And I really hope Mubarak has a heart attack mid revolution so that people will stop getting killed unnecessarily.