A common issue with government programs of any sort is that they are often created without any thought regard to the long-term impacts. However, in the case of a particularly disturbing set of programs, some would say that a side-effect was specifically wanted and intended. If you distrust large institutions, you may agree once you read this:
“Now research suggests that widespread awareness of such mass surveillance could undermine democracy by making citizens fearful of voicing dissenting opinions in public.
“A paper published last week in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, the flagship peer-reviewed journal of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), found that ‘the government’s online surveillance programs may threaten the disclosure of minority views and contribute to the reinforcement of majority opinion.’
“The NSA’s ‘ability to surreptitiously monitor the online activities of US citizens may make online opinion climates especially chilly’ and ‘can contribute to the silencing of minority views that provide the bedrock of democratic discourse,’ the researcher found.”
In essence, what this means is that, when people know that they are being watched, they will tend to try to conform, presumably to try to stay out of trouble.
The problem is that, unfortunately, when it comes to important ideas politically, economically, and socially, the majority of people in a nation (any nation, not just the United States) are almost always wrong simply because they passively follow the opinion that they are told to have.
For example, the majority of people in the colonies had no strong opinions about how the British were treating the colonies. The majority of people in did not have a strong opinion about the Civil War or segregation. The majority of people don’t tend to have strong opinions on anything and, therefore, they tend to follow where they are told to go by people who coerce them into cooperation.
If those who are willing to think outside of the conformist box feel intimidated by government surveillance so that they do not express opinions outside of the mainstream, then the option of swaying our government and our culture from it’s self-destructive path is less likely to even be in the public conversation.
If an idea can’t be expressed to expose someone else to that new idea, then the statists and those who want to control every aspect of our lives have already won. This is another reason why this mass surveillance has to end.
What do you think about this disturbing effect on political discussion? Tell us below.