Here is a new word for you all to go all a-twittering: Cyber-hyperbole. I define it as the negative result of basing news reports on unchecked information texted, cell-phoned and twittered at you. An incident can be amplified out of proportion, such as a rebellion in the streets mostly centered in one city exaggerated into perception of nationwide battles between Iranian youth and cops in every corner of the country.
One of the cell phone photos I saw Sunday on CNN coming from Teheran represented as a demonstrator bloodied and wounded, leaning against a car, beaten by Revolutionary Guards. Then I saw the khaki military pants. On closer examination he looked to me like a Revolutionary Guard with half his kit ripped off. The crowds obviously beat him.
A picture, as the statement goes, is worth a thousand words. What happens when such pictures, broadcast across cyberspace thousands of times around the world gain the power of ten times ten thousand words?
A misperception is worth ten time ten thousand tweets. It would seem the first casualty of Cyber-hyperbole is proportionate reporting of the facts.
As an example of what the fever of cyber-hyperbole can do to our unconsciously programmed minds, I give you “Elloi’s” reaction to my article, Teherananmen in Cybermyopia posted on 19 June:
You are shortsighted with very poor memory. You do not know anything about people power and you should shut your mouth. The people power movement that happened in the Philippines and Thailand will tell you NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE MIDDLE CLASS AND THE EDUCATED CLASS because they make revolutions possible and sustainable.
When a person is grasped unconsciously by their emotional center the memory becomes selective. Yes, middle class rebellions do sometimes succeed in the Philippines and the American and French Revolutions too. Do not forget that lower or working class people power movements also succeed. Peasants have had their share of successes, such as the Bolshevik Russian and Red Chinese Revolutions. Nevertheless, sometimes middle class revolutions fail, as you, hailing from the Philippines ought to remember. The early popular uprisings against Marcos were not immediately successful. Just recently, the people power pushes in Thailand were once again suppressed.
Elloi, do you remember the two middle class uprisings in Caracas against President Hugo Chavez in the early 2000s? The US government and news media framed both as popular movements, projecting dictatorial Chavez was on his way out. CNN conjured up texting reports and lined up only expatriate anti-Chavez Venezuelans as their dependable sources.
Well, excuse the facts. Both rebellions failed because Chavez had the vast majority of peasants and the poor in his pocket. God knows why, they loved him. This is something CNN did not report very much. Out of texting, out of mind. Sort of like the unwired millions in Iran who support the conservative piety of Ayatollahs and Ahmadinejad. Sort of like all the pro-Ahmadinejad tweets CNN does not like reading on camera. Anyone who reads me knows I am no supporter of Ahmadinejad. I am also no supporter of corporate journalism coming from CNN, the most trusted news in name only.
I was in India in 1989 when Chinese students made their heroic stand in Tiananmen Square in 1989. I wanted them to succeed as much as I want the Iranian students risking life and limb to freely assemble in Teheran’s streets. There is this little problem about facts that once again stands in the way of my texting the future I want to happen and history may repeat itself, like in China.
In a fit of emotional passion, the memory can conveniently overlook these setbacks on the road to freedom. Yet, if we are blind to all setbacks, we do not learn how to succeed in the future.
Thanks, Elloi, at least for the content of your letter. Though, your emotional outburst undermines what you are trying to say. In a way, it is hypocritical of you, a defender of people power, to tell people to shut their mouths. Is that not what the Supreme Ayatollah Khamenei is commanding the people demonstrating in Iran to do?
I wonder what kind of leader you would be if power were placed in your hands?
It is a question we should all ask ourselves, not just Elloi. What kind of leader would you or I be?
Remember the famous statement: “power corrupts”?
I prefer my own meditation teacher’s upgrade of that statement. I heard Osho often say, power does not corrupt, it exposes the hidden corruption inside of us.
Meditation can also reveal this. A conscious, inward observation of the motivations behind our outer words and actions can shine a light on this hidden corruption. We perhaps then can understand and transcend this corruption before the drug of power influences us.
Look how many times good people-power revolutions find their noble leaders, once in power, becoming just like the regimes they deposed? (Are you listening, Mr. Mousavi?)
Look at Elloi here, upholding the efforts of people power yet telling me to shut my mouth.
Am I not one of the people too?
Where goes my freedom of speech in her worldview?
You might find yourself silenced if what you freely said did not agree with her if Elloi had the power.
What if you, reader, had the power and encountered people who disagreed and protested against your views?
We could all abuse power if we are unmindful of the corruption programmed into us by our societies from birth onwards.
(23 June 2009)
PS–The issue of power held in our hands unconsciously is part of a syndrome I call the “Antichrist Unconscious.” Read more about it here: Nostradamus predictions