I keep imagining a scene in The Hurt Locker where the lead character is geared up in his bombsuit and about to disarm a bomb when he suddenly pauses and says, “I’m gonna update my Facebook status real quick.”
Maybe I’m over-personalizing it too much as I’ve always imagined my response to life-threatening stress would be to issue directions on how to publish my saved drafts in WordPress.
That’s probably not the way that social media technologies will be used by military personnel on bases or in the field. But it’s good to hear that the top brass has just changed its policy and will allow soldiers to participate in social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Previously, those Web sites had been blocked on most service members’ computers, in part out of concerns that social networking could consume too much of the military’s bandwidth or present serious security risks to U.S. interests.
However, the new policy, which arrives at the conclusion of a seven-month review, would allow even troops in the field access to those Web sites on the Pentagon’s non-classified network.
It makes sense to enable people in the service, especially those in harm’s way, to maintain a deeper connection with their friends and families. But there’s probably a more important cultural benefit here. Even with the hundreds of stories being tweeted and facebooked at you by a few thousand of your closest friends, it’s still alarmingly easy to keep any military-related news and experiences out of your stream.
Yet we’re engaged in two wars. It seeems like being at least somewhat connected to the real people who are on the front lines of these battles is a worthwhile use of social media.
Update: Certain security precautions of course need to be maintained.