Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"An opportunity to share even the most tentative threats"

The New York Times reports on how the US military is tapping social networking skills:
Hunched over monitors streaming live video from a drone, Lieutenant Christopher and a team of analysts recently popped in and out of several military chatrooms, reaching out more than 7,000 miles to warn Marines about roadside bombs and to track Taliban gunfire...  

...three-quarters of the 350 analysts here have never been to the war zones, so a cultural divide can pop up. Several said they were a bit intimidated when Sergeant Smothers, 36, who has had five tours in Iraq, strode onto the floor here in February.

At the time, the analysts were blending data from the U-2s and the drones to watch the roads into Marja and fields where helicopters might land. But as Sergeant Smothers looked over their shoulders, encouraging them to warn the Marines about even the most tentative threats, the analysts warmed up.
The mission of America's social network warriors parallels that of DoF.   Just as Sergeant Smothers wants social networking military officers to "warn the Marines about even the most tentative threats,"  the Department of Fear wants you to share information about "even the most tentative threats" with your friends.  

Let's say you hear that a terror suspect has been captured.   Shock soon gives way to relief that the monster was caught.  But deeper down you are likely frightened.  You are more than little nervous because you have doubts about whether your leaders have been doing enough to protect you.   DoF urges you to share these kinds of fears on a blog, video-blog, Facebook, or Twitter.  Communicate what would make you feel better:   Enhanced interrogation of the suspect?  Stripping the terror suspect of US citizenship? New laws passed by Congress to better balance freedom with security?  More pervasive wiretapping?  Fewer trials?   Shouldn't our president have the authority to do whatever it takes to avert another deadly terror strike?   Do you want to see more public investment in the US Military?  How about tax relief for companies responsible for manufacturing our great arsenal of democracy?  Should the president increase the frequency of US predator drone strikes throughout the Muslim World?  Has the time come to bomb bomb bomb Iran?  Share your personal priorities for making America feel safer. 

If you're pressed for ideas, turn on Fox News.  Then get on twitter and tweet what you've learned. Or sign in to  Facebook where you should strive to be "authentic" with  your online friends.   Genuine people don't just poke their friends and share jokes.  They don't just fret about their diets and trade fashion tips. True patriots are concerned about the security of the homeland.   They talk about how the terrorists seem to hate us so much for our freedoms. They upload photos from FBI.gov of the week's "most wanted" terrorists and post them on their wall.   They chat about nightmare scenarios.*  They know that DoF is there to support them in making the most of today's social networking opportunities.  
* America's pharmaceutical companies have developed products that help us to cope with anxiety.

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Dr. Rebecca Wolf
Undersecretary for Community and New Media
United States Department of Fear