Ever since the DNC emails were released by WikiLeaks I’ve been haunted by a sinking feeling in my gut. As an avid Reddit user, I’ve been glued into dozen of stories about the DNC email leak. The shady nature in which these emails was acquired is troubling; the information they reveal is troubling; the way people react to the information is troubling. This information brings out a lot of hatred and feelings of betrayal. It’s draining on me. In many it stirs anger. In some, righteous indignation. Others still feel victimized. I don’t think it brings anyone warm and fuzzy feelings, even those that feel a sense of justice, seem to bend under the loss of innocence.
The vitriol brought forth by these data dumps makes me skeptical about how we’re using them. They feel like a trap. One were you’re stuck consuming and spewing noxious energies while nothing positive is accomplished. They simply seem to add to our poor political discourse. Jesus dropped a lot of truth bombs to power in his day, but they were always lessons. They were constructive. They had thought and form, these data dumps are shapeless masses of one’s and zeros. With so much material, it’s no wonder that people are able to amplify their worse feelings with what they find.
Let me step back and make something clear: There are injustices pointed out in these emails; I just think we are dealing with them in the worse possible ways. The cynic in me also says that politics has always worked the way the emails portray, but that the curtain has been lifted in a new way. There is almost a sense of grieving as we witness first hand, the brokenness of our political system. It makes me want to scream sometimes.
In my Christian practice, I’m interested in God’s mission in the world, which is not one of destruction, but of creation. I’m highly skeptical of systems that tear us apart. It’s becoming clearer to me that Edward Snowden, yes that Edward Showden, an Agnostic, had a better approach to whistle-blowing than WikiLeaks. First off, he took credit for his work. He’s not some shady Gucifer 2.0. For goodness sake, it rhymes with “Lucifer, don’t ya know”. Second, He found responsible journalists to help him share the information. Yes, we all know that responsible journalists are a dying breed, but we need these professionals to help us make sense of complex information in an unbiased way. Third, he had the Journalists use their best discretion in how they released the data. They didn’t release it to score points right before a Primary, they released it at the speed they were able to vet the information; spaced out so that we could consume it without gorging ourselves. Fourth, related to the last point, they protected innocent people by redacting sensitive information. They made a couple of mistakes in this regard, but gave it an honest effort. Putting the whistle-blowing aside, however, it’s up to us to figure out how to use the knowledge to bring forth constructive change. Yelling on an internet forum won’t accomplish that. It takes grass roots effort, which is the foundation of any national movement.
WikiLeaks has amazing potential to change the world (and it is), but on balance it seems to be making things worse, feeding hate and vitriol. I doubt that’s their intention, but it’s happening none the less, you merely need to look r/politics to see the effect.
Image courtesy of Christiaan Colen via creative commons licencing.