Comfortably Numb

October 26, 2015 Kevin Whalen

comfortably numb

Last week it was revealed that an email account belonging to the Director of the CIA was hacked by teenager. Those emails were then published by Wikileaks.

What was most stunning about this news wasn’t that a top ranking government official was careless with classified material, or that they forwarded classified material to a private account, or even that a teenager could do such a thing. What was most surprising was the complete lack of interest in this story. It would have been very easy to miss it. The reaction seems to have been somewhere between “Whatever” and “No kidding.

This is bad news. When the public is so unmoved it shows an acceptance that the situation is hopeless.   A combination of hyperbole and volume have led us here. For example, from this weekend, Cyber hackers are GREATER threat to UK security than nuclear weapons.

Hyperbolic statements do not rally the public to an important issue, it leads them to tune out. Look no further than climate change. The more hyperbolic the rhetoric, the less the public cares, Gallup: Climate Change Not a Top Worry in U.S. It turns out, credibility and common sense matter.

As far as hacking goes, we expect it because most have experienced it. In 2014, there were 432 million hacked accounts that impacted 1 of every 2 American adults.

If we accept that it will happen no matter what, we are less likely to pay attention to best practices, let alone follow them. Think of the implications of that. It is hugely complicated when everyone IS doing the right thing. If nobody can be bothered because the situation seems hopeless, how much harder do our collective jobs become?

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