Good ‘ole Uncle Sam finally got around to monitoring the internets over there in the Middle East. The military is no longer allowing soldiers to post whatever they want on the net, and according to the AP piece that’s been circling around the past few days, the soldiers are no longer allowed to access these specific sites: YouTube, Metacafe, IFilm, StupidVideos and FileCabi; social networking sites MySpace, BlackPlanet and Hi5; music sites Pandora, MTV, 1.fm and live365, and the photo-sharing site Photobucket.
Truthfully, the mere fact that it took the DOD this long to forbid carte blanche access to the internet surprises me. The military is claiming that the main reason they aren’t allowing the military service-people access to these sites is because it eats up the DOD bandwidth, but come on–we all know it’s because of videos like these.
Like I said, this doesn’t surprise me, but I think that forbidding access to meaningful locations of emotional release, like the internet, will only serve to compound frustration and angst in our military service people. If those men and women are willing to voluntarily fight in a war then let’em have YouTube. Give’em all subscriptions to Playboy and Penthouse. Hell, import’em some German prostitutes so they know we appreciate their willingness to fight, because I’m damn sure not going over there.
I know the DOD is worried about strategic leaks and bad PR from disgruntled soldiers, but they should weigh those risks against the importance of troop morale. The morale needs to stay high and those soldiers need healthy places to vent their emotions, and personally, I’d rather have them making dumbass videos than taking their anger out on fellow soldiers or the Iraqis that they are there to protect. Social networking site like MySpace and Facebook supply those soldiers with emotional links back to their families and friends; blogs allow them a location to make their voices heard in an otherwise isolated situation.
I’ve been very impressed with some of the military blogs that I’ve read, so much so that in 2005 I based one of my grad school papers on the subject. You can read that here.