Did you know that in WWII spies used to write their notes in urine? The notes could be read by lighting a match underneath the paper to heat up the urine. Its an ingenious free way of creating invisible ink and i’m told that if you want to experiment with this idea there is a bit more detail in Conn Iggulden’s Dangerous Book for Boys (one of my eldest son’s favourite reads).
I’ve been thinking about these ideas a lot recently as I’m both puzzled and flabbergasted by current censorship issues and internet privacy. It seems to be one of the over-riding themes of current society. On the one hand we have Freedom of Speech, on the other hand we are completely censored, both on a national and local level.
The government look to snoop into my personal internet activities, read my text messages and so forth in case of terrorist activity. I expect they will enjoy such gems as: ‘ the child had a meltdown today on the school run’ and ‘please buy milk’. That’s not to say I can’t see the point, but surely, like the spies in WWII, some international terrorists might be a little bit more sophisticated and one step ahead.
It’s the more local censorship issues that i’m starting to worry about. For example, i’ve been signed up to an agreement, without my permission, which forbids me from speaking online about a very major aspect of my life. This really does present a problem for me because the majority of my support network and friends are online. I meet up with them occasionally but they live all over the world, former work and university friends whose opinion I value live as far as Australia, America, and various European countries in between.
When I started one of my first jobs I had to sign an agreement where I wouldn’t discuss various aspects of my work. It wasn’t a case of national security, it was box ticking for the sake of it.
The very value of social media is in the fact that I don’t have to write the same email many times to canvass their opinion and also, if they don’t have time they don’t feel obliged to comment. Indeed, this blog and the blogging community have been a great source of support or given me insight and perspective which has been valuable.
But no more, i’ve been gagged. I cant talk about one of the biggest aspects of my daily life. I cant seek the perspective of others, I can’t offload and I can’t criticise. I’m assuming positive comments and conversations are allowed but that seems hypocritical, so I shall remain neutral. I think that has influenced the quality of my writing for the past few years. Its a shame. As a result of this i’m also not signing up to various Facebook and Twitter pages, where not doubt value information is passed on, because I don’t want to be snooped upon even more. I have succumbed to the very things which I try to tell my children not to do.
Without getting into debate about the merits of Freedom of Speech and personal expression, what should and shouldn’t be said either online, in the playground or in the pub and the greater good of it all, surely there is an argument that openly having debates about circumstances, incidents or values whether considered good or bad by the majority is a good thing? I’ve always taught my children to express themselves, to talk through problems, to tell others about the bullies in life and to reach an opinion following consideration and debate. Why does this apply in childhood and not in adult hood and why should institutions, brands and these large organisations fear such things if they stand by their approaches?
Like the spies in WWII I need a new way to communicate. I’m starting to feel that maybe the way forward is a virtual blog written in wee…