Cyberspace - Out of Control?

Posted by M ws On Monday, August 8, 2011 4 comments
A Bernama statement on how the Internet has become the Malaysian political battlefield has set cyberspace ablaze with much indignation and fury. Among the concerns highlighted include:

  • difficulties in censoring the  flow of information
  • poor handling of problems associated with the Internet
  • how the tight government control over MSM has driven people to the alternative media which is now more powerful in dominating public opinion
  • how some of the young Internet users blindly accept and believe what they read online, thus making it difficult to put forward a rational and civilised debate
  • how those in the rural areas are easily kept informed by their IT-savvy children of what is going on online, including all sorts of rumours, half truths and even made-up stories tarnishing the government’s image. 
The article featured a supposition that "if some netizens continue to distort the concept of democracy, the authorities will not listen to their abusive remarks while mature voters will also reject them after some time, upon realising that they are already so horrible before they have even come to power."

Raja Petra Kamarudin has responded to these issues in his latest No Holds Barred post called You need brains to do it (UPDATED)



What the authorities do not seem to realize is that there is a new nation in existence sporting a diverse populace with its own unique and varied culture. However, its boundaries are defined by silicon wafers, fiber optic cables, and dancing electrons. This nation is not a physical entity but rather, one of the mind and certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Its name is cyberspace. And it is powerful in its pervasive influence with defining qualities that give this body of people its singular identity.

Despite claims that ours is a  democratic society, we ironically lament our limited opportunities to voice our discontent about issues that concern and affect us. Since the importance and effectiveness of the MSM is declining drastically,  we have to depend on online oppositional power if we intend to effect any change in our country.

Many write about a broad range of public issues to express their dissent. Whenever major events or crises occur such as in the Teoh Beng Hock inquest, readers can invariably turn to blogs and online news portals for the latest information and more importantly, critical commentaries which are virtually absent in MSM.

Fully aware of the expectations of their audience, activist-bloggers have to keep abreast with their critical comments and observations. Blogosphere culture requires bloggers to write for their audience with specific objectives in mind. Online activism hardly happens out of the blue, but has found a social basis, especially in Malaysia, because of the many structural flaws in society. Furthermore, online activism has succeeded in sustaining its power because it fills the void that has been created by the failure of mass media to play its role in society.

In democratic societies, despite whatever rights we may pretend we have, many people do not have an opinion about major issues such as the "non-attitudes" problem or political ambivalence. Judging from the messages in both mainstream and online websites, the different styles of framing of questions can solicit and mould public opinion. Such a situation certainly raises questions about the ability and competence of ordinary citizens to play the expected roles in a democratic society. However, the Internet has changed all that for us - for the better!

Recently, if not for Tweeter and global cable networks, protests in Iran would not have become so widely known and influential. In the same vein, online protests about the “Green Dam” software in China gained momentum when even some official media stories questioned the policy.  A little closer to home, we saw how news about Bersih 2.0 rally spread like wildfire via Tweets and updates in various social media. All this goes to show that we cannot underestimate the pervasive power of the Internet.

Those who decry the positive influence of cyberspace have failed to realize how the constant updates of news feeds from tweets, blogs and Facebook have fuelled news reporting in online mass media. The fact is clear - web power has become an integral part of mainstream media power. And the authorities are losing ground in cyberspace and they are afraid. In their fear, they choose to breed fear by spinning all kinds of yarn.

From my observations, it appears that the “old” and “new” media are converging and, whether we like it or not, the variety of media channels has vital connections, each of which enhances and strengthens the links in the chain. And the authorities are definitely NOT happy that these links are growing in number and in strength!

Internet activists depend on two factors that exist in a symbiotic relationship - size and rhetoric. When we want to gain attention from the masses, we gather in large crowds for demonstrations. Well, we don't really have to do so as much now as in the past because through the internet, if one can generate large volumes of traffic, one would be able to wield and to show web power such as seen in Facebook pages, Tweets, blogs and other social networking media.

As Cyberspace does not exist physically, physical violence does not exist. Anarchy in cyberspace is much safer than whatever conflicts we face in the real world. Individuals recognize this and are encouraged to express themselves freely. Whilst they may suffer repercussions from unwise comments, they will not die from it. So what's there to stop our social conscience from motivating us to do what is right?

While the Bernama report has referred to the Internet as a political battlefield, it has forgotten that cyberspace is the most unrestricted playing field in history. Because of the high level of cooperation in sharing information, netizens will not suffer fools! People are not so stupid to simply believe in what they come across in the net. With the click of the mouse, they can verify information or identities and know if indeed what they are reading is correct.

Bear in mind that it is people, computers, and networks that make up the Internet - transforming it into a  new form of bionic entity somewhat like the old Six Million Dollar Man- half-machine,  half-human. With the imminent elections, those that walk the corridors of power fear the influence of the net which cannot be hindered by the limitations of broadcast or print media.

And why so? Simple. Everyone who is connected has more or less equal access to everything available and to other contacts as well. In the real world, we have the elitist group but in cyberspace, there is no such elite organization and never will be.

It is this egalitarianism - a quintessential ingredient of cyberspace that makes it such an exceedingly powerful one. And they are afraid.

We are no longer  dependent on THEM for information, beliefs, clarifications, judgment and myths. We are autonomous and have immediate control over what we want to access. Organizations must realize they can no longer operate in the relative security of their state houses. The option to stonewall is no longer there! Citizens can now speak out immediately not just on an individual basis but also en masse!!

Throughout the history of man, this type/degree of interaction has never existed with the speed, availability, and ease that we enjoy today. Gone are the days of one-way mass communication. Like a virus, ideas can spread contagiously.

The old adage said the pen is mightier than the sword and I daresay ideas are more powerful than bullets and imagination more powerful than the fear they try to instil in us! The best part is - everyone can be part of cyberspace without getting physically hurt. All it takes is the ability to click a mouse.

Don't forget the sheer velocity at which the Internet is growing. Note that this isn't accidental growth but the result of driving forces behind us - the hunger for change, truth, justice and information to justify our decisions!

There is a gamut of human experience that Cyberspace offers us. Ranging from public to private, high profile to low profile, everyone is welcome. No one is under any obligation to reveal anything more than what we want to. The freedom we yearn to have such as freedom of assembly is easily available in cyberspace which has no rules, structure or any centralized authority! Of course they would be worried. RPK has rightly pointed out why in his post.

Make no mistake. For sure, our nation is poised on the verge of a massive transformation and it has already begun in the Internet which has a level playing field, something which is so lacking in our turf. And they can't take that away from us! The inner man in us cries for change. In response, the Internet is evolving for the better and not out of control because it is THE channel for the Vox Populi to voice their concerns!

4 comments to Cyberspace - Out of Control?

  1. says:

    Antares Until we manage to digitize Gani Patail, his analog jurisprudence will continue to reek of anal logic - and embody the BNality of Evil!

  1. says:

    nick Sis,

    The BERNAMA article shows the government or to be exact UMNO and BN's frustration with the cyberworld in which they have no control nor influence whatsoever. The bitter lament and the exasperated urging for the cyber generation to listen and obey is evidence enough that UMNO and BN has no idea nor the intelligence to deal with the internet and its level playing field (after so long having the advantage of being the referee and the winning side at the same time, their utter defeat in the cyberwar comes with a triple whammy of morale, energy(will) and resource sapping consequence).

    However, not all of their defeat is a direct effect from their lame and unintelligible battle campaign. Their biggest weakness and ultimately the main cause for their defeat is "the utter corruptness and blatant transgression on justice, equality and freedom of their citizen". No dictatorship nor a "guided democracy" can withstand the test of time and patience. Even the Nazi, with their "genius" propagandist extraordinaire Goebbels, with his famous propaganda catchphrase "tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually believe it" cannot survive the truth eventually. So, in truth, the transgression and the abuse of those men in power can no longer be kept secret. Their lies and propaganda to cover and pull the wool over the eyes of the citizen no longer worked (after 30 years, they have in fact surpasses even the Nazi, actually!).

    So, in other words it is the time for their demise and what the internet did was to spread and disperse the much needed and actual information to the masses. UMNO and BN will eventually die from their own disease and corruptness. And it will be a dawn of a new day for Malaysian and maybe Asian??? Personally, I think many illegal aliens would rue the day that easy and free Malaysian citizenship is no longer.

    Nick.

    GOD bless Malaysia, Sis.

  1. says:

    Bunny the power of prayer:

    In church on Sunday, I over-heard the lady in the pew next to me saying a short private prayer. It was so sweet and sincere that I just had to share with you.

    “Dear Lord,
    This has been a tough 24 months... You have taken my favorite actor Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress Farrah Fawcett and my favorite musician Michael Jackson.
    I just wanted you to know that my favorite Prime Minister is Najib.
    Amen.”

  1. says:

    flyer168 Cyberspace - Out of Control?

    Bernama...another UMNO/BN "Sheeple"

    Hello,

    Just to share this...

    Compliments from "Big Brother" through APCO Worldwide...

    Who Is Watching You? Nine Industries That Know Your Every Move - http://www.infowars.com/who-is-watching-you-nine-industries-that-know-your-every-move/

    world wide wiretap and fusion centers - http://www.youtube.com/user/biometricsislavery#p/f/29/YqaqgkDjMpU

    Thank God...

    Inspite of all the International PR Con-Sultans who conned our Powers that be to "Rip off" Bolehland's tax $$$...

    Bolehland's Paranoid Uneducated Moronic Powers that be and all their Lap Dogs screwed it up Big Time...

    SNAFU….Systems Normal, All Fcuked Up

    Typical of Bolehland's Gomen & their mercenary "Sheeple" including their medias...

    You be the judge.

    Shalom.

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