What Will It Take For Us to Get Angry?

Occupy Wall Street 2011
Edward Snowden, The Guardian and The Washington Post know how to keep a story in the news. Instead of dumping all of their leaked documents to the public, they are slowly releasing information on PRISM, the NSA and more to the press in waves. Drip. Drip. Drip.
Europe is pissed with us. Russia’s Vladimir Putin basically gave America the middle finger. Hong Kong (and China) did the same thing. Edward who? Oh, he left hours ago because you messed up his middle name. Also, what’s this about you spying on us? The only ones who don’t seem pissed are Americans themselves. Sure, you can’t read Reddit without coming across at least one “Fuck the NSA” or “Fuck Obama” post. But have you seen what’s going on in Egypt? How about the protests in Turkey? The U.S. government has been invading the privacy of hundreds of thousands of people, including Americans, at a scale that has never before seen in the history of mankind. And how do we react? We whine about Paula Deen. Okay, perhaps I’m oversimplifying the situation. But I haven’t seen anybody in the streets taking our government to task. This includes me. I’m upset, don’t get me wrong. But for some reason, I’m not angry. There’s a very big difference between upset and angry. When you’re upset, you get a few articles. When you’re angry, you get worldwide protests that scare the shit out of politicians. Just look at the Occupy Movement for a small demonstration of the power of the American people when they’re angry. Drip. Drip. Drip. Are the NSA, FBI and U.S. government’s assaults on personal liberties not egregious enough for us to finally become angry? Are we too comfortable with our lives on the top of the global food chain to take our government to task? Or is the ignition that will light up the American people still waiting to be leaked by Glenn Greenwald? I don’t know the answer. What I do know is this: we should be angry. We should be very angry. But we are not, and until something — or someone — acts as the catalyst to unite the American people, we will continue to lack the will to take action. And that is far more dangerous than any secrets the NSA is collecting about you. Drip. Drip. Drip. Image (The Occupy Wall Street General Assembly in Washington Square Park) courtesy of David Shankbone, Wikipedia
  • WoodyLeonhard

    I take issue with just one sentence: “Are we too comfortable with our lives on the top of the global food chain to take our government to task?”

    As an American who’s lived in Phuket for the past 15 years, I don’t believe the US is at the top of the global food chain in any important aspect – except, arguably, technological advancement. And that’s changing quickly.

    The majority of Americans don’t know much about history, or geography, or global politics. Most aren’t phased by the fact that the world looks upon the American political system as corrupt, its leaders as bloodthirsty and morally bankrupt. Not just now, mind you, but for the past two decades or more.

    I had hopes that Obama would restore some decency to the American political system. It seems that, no matter how Obama stands personally, the New American Way — privacy erosion, bullying, decaying social systems, spying for the sake of spying, killing in the name of “freedom” — has triumphed.


  • Jonathan

    I think the major reason why people aren’t angry is because issues of privacy and surveillance are quite abstract (not helped by the pacifying mantra of “nothing to hide…”). Mind you, we’re also apparently not very angry about numerous and utterly corrupt banking scandals, which arguably affect us much more directly.

    Perhaps the reason for a lack of anger is the sense of inability to do anything about the situation. After all, the only lasting way of stopping mass surveillance like this is to abolish the NSA in the same way that to stop banking corruption is to abolish the banks. But anyone seriously suggesting those things is seen as a total loon.

    For my part, I think I would get angry if I was confident that such anger would bring about actual change and not just raise my blood pressure. Demand legislation to make the encryption of email mandatory, for example, or… or… OK, or abolish the NSA.

    • marek


  • Dominika Wolski

    This was a clever device… The very thing that enabled PRISM is also the tech which allows people to constantly have escapism at their finger tips. Why get angry when you can watch Star WArs for the 123rd time on your phone? And I think the more troubling question is if you asked people if they valued their privacy more than their iPad, you can thank reality tv for creating some sort of inverse stigma on what it means to be “recorded” the distractions of an addictive tech keep them from their full blown rebellion.. They are too busy building grocery stores for APIs hoping to make money because people will use their spare time to build apps rather than going outside with their kids .