WikiLeaks bothers me. I’m usually quite comfortable with mucking around in gray areas, but I can’t seem to decide exactly how I feel about this practically unmovable Internet behemoth. So I’ve been poking around a bit on their main site. The first thing I found was some kind of character analysis about a former South African president, something that would hurtful only to the man himself as he suddenly realized that nice American ambassador who was so friendly actually thought he was kind of stupid. I was kind of surprised that this was what people were getting so upset about; I guess after that I found the juicy stuff, like the recently released bacha bazi incident (TL;DR: American tax-dollars funding child rape in Afghanistan), or this video of two Reuters journalists being killed because supposedly their cameras were guns, which honestly broke my heart (yes, I know I’m sheltered).
Now, I still don’t know how I feel about WikiLeaks, but what I find interesting is its potential for wish fulfillment: with WikiLeaks, we can all be Hard Edged Investigative Journalists / Super Slick Super Spies. We start with this image:
Julian Assange looming out of the darkness, look pensive yet confident, just like James Bond. But rather than the message of the singular Bond, we are greeted with the message of community: “Keep Us Strong.” We can support WikiLeaks the collective, not just the face of Julian Assange, and thereby become part of the group. Or we could set up a mirror website, or become part of the “hacktivist” group Anonymous, or even just share cables and information with our social network, or download one of WikiLeaks’ snazzy wallpapers (I’m especially fond of the one that says, “Justice is in your hands now”). Even just reading the directions on how to submit secret information makes me feel like I’m in on something dangerous.
And I think that’s part of the appeal of WikiLeaks; fighting for truth and justice in our humdrum write-to-your-councilman, start-a-petition, blog-about-politics kinda way is boring compared to WikiLeaks. Why not spice up our everyday lives by joining this dangerous, edgy, spy network that doesn’t require an entrance exam?