Skip to main content

View Diary: Everything you don't want to know about the NSA & didn't ask (208 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  " people understand it is a fact and have to deal (11+ / 0-)

    with it"

    I think that touches on a very important point.  Because the government's total surveillance of every American has been shrouded in secrecy (with those who breach that secrecy severely punished), we have been able to deny (in our own minds) or only partially recognize that total government surveillance is a fact of our digital  lives.

    We are, in a metaphorical way, like the spouse of a man who has successfully lived two lives, just now learning about the other spouse in a distant city whose kids also call him Daddy.  Or like the family and community who has to recognize that the friendly husband and father who lives across the street from the grade school and became a school bus driver after he retired sexually molested every girl-child in his extended family.  The one who was always so nice to your daughter before she started putting on all that weight and began wearing those baggy clothes all the time and became so damn moody.

    Or, to bring it closer to home with a real-world example, the national community is going through the same kind of emotional upheaval that the dKos community went through recently when a user was banned for plagiarism.  In that instance, one big part of the outcry was about the fact that a trusted writer was not who she had presented herself as being ('if she could lie about that, how can we trust anything she says?').  The emotional turmoil caused by betrayal of trust split the community into three camps -- those who accepted the new evidence and changed their view of the person, those who denied the importance of the revelations ('it's no big deal') and those who just stayed out of it and wished everybody would shut up.

    I can't apply percentages to the dKos community response to the plagiarist, but the Guardian this morning had a quick-poll of a small sample of Brits about the NSA revelations and Snowden.  I noticed that, for each question, the sample group split into something pretty close to even thirds:  one third 'NSA bad/Snowden good', one third 'NSA OK/Snowden evil', and one third 'I don't know and I don't care'.

    I dislike the phrase 'in denial', but I grudgingly admit it may have some usefulness here.  But I think the concept of Cognitive Dissonance is more useful.  When new facts contradict previously-known reality, people go one of three ways:  Accept the new facts and acknowledge the new reality (enduring emotional upheaval to get there), deny or minimize the new facts so they can retain the comfort of the previous reality, or (try to) ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist.  When this kind of Cognitive Dissonance affects a group, people in all groups will feel the need to explain and defend their positions, and people in each group will feel attacked by the expression of the people in the other two groups.

    It's very important for this kind of community transformation that all members continue to learn the facts of the newly-exposed changed reality.  This is what you are doing in this diary -- providing access to facts for those who can use them.  Thanks for your work.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site