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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Freedom of Expression

Freedom of expression is one of the basics of a democratic society. Today, more than ever before, the individual is able to express their views and opinions and broadcast their thoughts to a global audience. Social media enables all of us to air our views and ping them off to anyone and everyone who has an interest. So far, so good.

Moving the argument along a little, if we have this new found freedom to broadcast to the world, we also have a responsibility to think about what we are saying and doing. Whilst some extreme views or actions can be discounted, others may have far reaching consequences which we had never imagined.

A campaign on Twitter against an organisation or an individual may make us feel better, but what are the longer term consequences?

We might agree that Wikileaks has the moral right to broadcast secret government documents because the government shouldn’t be acting in such a covert manner. Really? Do the guys at Wilikeaks really understand what they are doing? Clearly they don’t. Being motivated by a need to expose people/governments may seem altruistic and desirable but they have completely overlooked The Law of Unintended Consequences (LUC).
In any society we have to have some order. We have to have people who lead and people who are led. We may not like or respect our leaders and we may wish to demonstrate against them but there has to be a limit to this.

Social media has allowed the individual to cross this line and the dangers are clearly visible. When launching a campaign or exposé we must ask WHY we are doing this. We must also ask ourselves WHAT we expect to happen as a result and we must never forget LUC.

We must take responsibility for our actions and understand the consequences. The alternative is anarchy and throughout history, anarchy has always ended in disaster …

Rob Horlock has established The Mid Life Opportunity (, a community for people in Midlife. Advice and Guidance is available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join - click here