Cheney the Shooter
This was one of those news stories that prompted an initial “What! Are you kidding?”. Hey, over the weekend the VP shot someone. We all have pop songs that rattle around in our brain only to pop up at odd times. The late 90s’ OMC song “How Bizarre How Bizarre” popped up in my brain within minutes.
Of course there were the very valid discussions about why this was kept under wraps for so long, what would have happened if someone had shot Cheney, would he or she have been give a protection against a law enforcement investigation, and, of course, who’s in charge, Bush or Cheney? And of course there was the “Guns don’t shoot people, Vice Presidents do” humor. All these discussions are extremely valid and must be continued. However, I want to discuss an aspect of this bizarre situation that I think points to a couple of developing trends that seem to have the power of irresistable force behind them.
It wasn’t the act of an accidental shooting that upset people. It was the impression that the truth was being withheld, and that the second highest elected official in the country didn’t seem to be accountable or want to be accountable to the American Public. That is what got people all riled up. The arrogance of the Vice President of the United States to not immediately provide an account of what happened, that is what bothered us.
In this post-digital age where we are all connected, where information flows freely through the Neurosphere, those that withhold information get clobbered. They are swimming upstream. They think they can still operate under rules that worked when the media was defined by moveable type printing presses, or when the news was on half an hour a day. The channels of distribution can no longer be controlled or contained. The fact that this blog is one of millions currently being written around the world is evidence that we are in a new era. In the Information Age, ‘non-information’ just doesn’t cut it.
Most people, particularly Americans, are forgiving. Tell us you did someting wrong, seem remorseful, ask forgiveness and we will give it to you. But lie to us or withhold information from us and we’ll nail you. Nobody really cared that Martha Stewart traded on inside information – we almost expect those close to power to do that – but don’t lie to us about it. Ask Bill Clinton about this concept. Getting to third base and lying about it? We will string you up for that!
Around the world, millions of new cell phone accounts, email accounts and high-speed Internet hook-ups occur every month. Thousands of terabytes of information flow through the Internet every hour. There is ever more information flowing through the Neurosphere and there are an ever increasing number of people drinking deeply from it. In this connected environment, any public attempt to withhold information will be disastrous. Even the poster boys for the new Internet Age, Yahoo and Google, are being taken out behind the woodshed for agreeing to censor information in China because the government said they had to as a condition for operating in the country.
Halfway through the first decade of the new millenium, it is clear that news and information cannot be managed for very long, there are no secrets and information flows freely. Disregard these new axioms at your own peril.