The breaking news over the last couple of weeks about the release of the Afghan War Diary through Wikileaks sure gives us a lot to think about. We live in a world overloaded with information, and under-sourced with ways to sort through it all.
In the world of military and national security, it’s not at all clear what this means. We know that the freedoms of press and speech are key to the vitality of democracy. What’s less clear is the degree to which the release of this kind of information helps or hurts.
The super fast, super connected concept of wiki excites us with the opportunity to have information and answers quickly and easily. The challenge comes when we find our human brains, with their combination of logical analysis and emotional response, trying to process all this stuff.
While the human brain itself is unbelievably fast and connected, it wasn’t built to absorb masses of data simultaneously, without the opportunity to absorb it emotionally. That would be the silly notion of multitasking. The result of those two clashing is called stress.
Sometimes, as I hope is the case of this WikiLeaks situation, the stress can create an opening for growth. Maybe it will help us explore our role in the war on terrorism, and figure out ever better ways to cope with it. Perhaps it can open a conversation about how else we might manage this, which may include armed conflict, but cannot be limited to it, or we will create a new kind of “Ground Hog Day” in arms.
In the case of our Wikilife and our Wikiwork, this drive to be ever more “wiki-wiki” works against us. Fast information, and connections we aren’t really connected to, stimulate us to think we can do more than we really can. It’s like creating info-addicts or ADD type connections. Try, for example, looking at the body of data in the just released war diary. It’s numbing.
This WikiLeaks incident serves us well on many levels. No doubt, we need to assess the status of our security and our approach to dealing with the threat of terrorists. But on a personal level it prompts me to be mindful of the information and relationships that I can handle, and that I can do justice to.
Wiki-ness is a nice service to present us with data. But life isn’t fun or meaningful unless we can manipulate bits of information into insights, and eventually into worthwhile experiences. Beware of letting Wiki-ness creep into every corner of our lives. Being in the know isn’t always such a great idea, especially when we know more than we can possibly act on. It actually makes us more conflicted and less likely to make good choices.
Being in the moment, on the other hand, and able to respond to what is happening around us, is always important. I say let’s opt for being strongly in the moment, and use our wiki tools to do a better job at this.