HUMAN beings seem to have an insatiable appetite for knowing what is going on around them, be it with their neighbours or the world at large.
It is almost as if curiosity and the information that feeds it are as necessary to life as the fundamentals of food, sex and shelter.
You only have to look at the mass media to see the proof. So-called news, lots of drama (especially where there are pictures) and, amidst all this, interminable cooking and lifestyle programs.
The ‘news’ that feeds this apparent fundamental hunger for information ranges from pure gossip through seriously skewed opinion pieces and, if you’re lucky, a bit of objective reporting.
No other animal seems to have this need. At best your average beastie might worry about whether there is something that might eat it around the next corner, but beyond that it is happy to exist in blissful ignorance.
When people opt out of the human race in disgust at its shenanigans or for some other hippy reason, the main artery they sever is the one that serves as a conduit to information. Television sets are heaved out the door and computers consigned to the bottom of swamps.
Some such people maintain this experience of disconnecting is cathartic and bliss-inducing. Most others, however, get very twitchy if they are separated from their smart phone, remote control and computer screen even for an hour or so.
The ever-inventive medical research industry has invented a clinical definition for the problem: information deficit disorder. Soon there will be a pill to fix it.
Social media feeds directly into this need. Somewhere in our history we evolved into an information dependent species and, while television, radio and the press once filled this deep desire, social media has upped the ante.
Where once many people couldn’t live without their daily newspaper now they can’t live without their daily social media hit. And by ‘daily’ I mean ‘all day long’.
To deprive people of food and shelter is a humanitarian issue, and in many cases a punishable crime.
If the need for information is now also regarded as fundamental, it follows that restricting it must also be a crime.
Access to the most efficient contemporary satisfier of this need, social media, could be regarded as a humanitarian issue.
Humanitarians have long argued, for instance, that a free press is essential in a democratic society. A government that claims to be democratic but seeks to control the media is being hypocritical. The media is usually the first casualty in a dictatorship.
Turkey has now locked up all its journalists but still claims to be a democracy. By some convoluted logic. President Erdogan seems to think that nobbling the media actually makes his country more democratic.
That old pussy grabber, Donald Trump, is pushing a similar line. And our own Australian potato head, Peter Dutton, dreams of doing the same thing.
In Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill has been trying it on too. He seems to have successfully intimidated the print media and has had some success with the electronic media by having television cameramen beaten up but shutting down social media has so far eluded him.
No doubt if he gets back into power he will keep working at it. In the meantime he’s been experimenting with a few options by getting his lapdog Patilias ‘Tomato’ Gamato to take on Martyn ‘Cucumber’ Namarong, probably PNG’s most eminent blogger.
What these politicians are doing, O’Neill included, is committing a crime against humanity.
I realise that’s a serious allegation but it’s also a handy warning.
If Tomato reverts back to Gamato, Papua New Guinea has a serious problem.
We’ll all have to start popping that information deficit disorder pill that can’t be too far away from our local chemist or aid post.