For the second time in one week I find myself deeply concerned with the similarities our collective world is having to the George Orwell novel ‘1984’.
The first time I had a fleeting Orwell-ian moment was when I read about British man, Paul Chambers. Back in January of this year Mr. Chambers was arrested for tweeting [commenting] on the popular social networking website Twitter, “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky-high!!”
The reason why I am just now hearing of this incident is because ten months later, at Chambers’ appeal, he lost and is now considered a criminal by British law. All because of a tweet written in a joking manner.
Now I understand the rationale behind the concern was based in fear of a threat but this concern could have been cleared up with a very simple questioning. However, that did not occur.
The second 1984-esque incident I came across this week was actually found on Mashable. A couple in China were arrested for tweeting and retweeting a message encouraging protesters to smash Japan’s pavilion at the Shanghai Expo in a joking manner. The husband, who originated the message, was taken to jail for 5 days and the wife, who retweeted the message, was sentenced to a year in a women’s labour camp for behavior reassignment.
These examples of judicial heavy-handedness are disconcerting in a number of ways. None of these as much so as the feeling I get when I think that what I could say on a social networking site, that is meant for my friends or people who understand me, could translate to something malicious by someone in a different mind-set. This once again brings me back to 1984 where Orwell writes,
“You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”
Until next time buyers, sellers and friends!
Josh #theDirector Weaver