Alarm bells are ringing and wrinkly hands are being wrung.
Idealism, freedom, naivete, security and fear are all staring at each other, listening to each other and wondering what each other truly means.
For so long, we thought we had an excellent sense of right and wrong.
We knew who were our friends, who were our enemies and who were merely people we needed to suck up to.
We believed, like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, that we were pristine and friendly, while our enemies represented a dark side which even Darth himself would fear.
But now, how can we be sure?
If Miss Alabama says she prefers to have her phones tapped and therefore feel safe, rather to have her privacy invaded, what hope of clarity do the rest of us have?
If Ron Paul is agreeing with rabid socialists and Dick Cheney is being attacked from all sides, as if he’s suddenly become the prey at one of his own quail shoots, how can we expect to experience certainty ever again?
My friend might be my friend. My enemy might be my enemy. The enemy of my enemy might be my friend. Or he might not.
We say we want privacy, but we also want to feel safe.
We say want French Fries, but we want to lose weight.
We’re sure that our closest friends agree with us and then we listen to their views on surveillance and they say dastardly things like: “Of course, what did you expect? The Government has always snooped on us. Always will. Another Cointreau, anyone?”
Suddenly, friends are falling out with friends and falling in with enemies.
We’re beginning not to like what’s in the minds of the supposedly like-minded.
Friend? Enemy? Enemend?
The more information that’s being shared, the more we don’t know those closest to us.
But isn’t this inevitable?
In the days when we thought we knew all the outlets of exposure, the only thing we couldn’t entirely control was gossip.
Some people would spread rumors about us that were entirely untrue. And very damaging.
But most of the time we thought we could trade on our supposed credentials, successes, connections and looks.
Now, we’re offering up more information to the vast beyond.
We’re revealing likes that we never would have shared with even good friends years ago.
We’re revealing patterns of which even we weren’t aware.
“Oh, you’re the sort of person who likes Angelina Jolie, pinball machines and mange-tout? Well, well, well.”
Suddenly, the computers start putting us together with others who enjoy the same makeup.
And they turn out to be Newt Gingrich.
Suddenly our bedfellows aren’t the ones we dreamed of in pajamas.
Yes, we’re more similar to a North Dakota farmer than we thought.
Then along comes the supposedly stunning, shocking information that all the lovely spying technologies that were invented by techies — and invested in by many tech luminaries — might also be used by those we elected to protect us.
“Wait, these were my friends. Now they go and do this? What am I supposed to think?”
That’s the problem with human judgment. So much of it is based for so many on what they’re supposed to think, not what they do think.
Sometimes the truth comes out when they’ve had a few Chartreuses too many.
“That woman is a Bachmann-hating homophobe? But she’s my friend.”
“That Edward Snowden, he must be a traitor. Wait, he’s terribly articulate. And he seems to be telling the truth. But he’s revealing our secrets. Wait, he says he’s just being a loyal citizen. And he seems to have some views similar to Rand Paul. At least about Dick Cheney, he does. And he voted for Obama. Who is this man? And who am I now?”
Some thought it naive when President Obama, in his first term, thought he’d try and work with his enemies.
Now, with few being entirely sure what part of freedom is free and what part of democracy is crass, so many are looking around for true friends.
So many are seeking to find safety where they normally find it — in numbers.
That safety may not be where they expect to find it.
Image: theta00/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk