The classical saying “the pen is mightier than the sword” by playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, couldn’t be more true today as the proven ‘power’ of the written word is making itself felt in a relatively new method of expressing public opinion: the internet blog-site. These instant opinion and commentary vehicles are enabling ordinary people to instantly express their opinion â€“ for better or for worse â€“ in a variety of languages, without having to wait to see if the editors of a particular news periodical are willing to print them. Many of these sites enable the writers to “see their name in print” as well; even though that ‘name’ may be fictitious, or simply their initials.
Israeli blog-sites and talk-back sections of on-line versions of newspapers have literally revolutionized public opinion, and are even making their power felt in regards to political and other sensitive issues as well. Studies being made by organizations dealing with public opinion have made interesting conclusions that comments posted on these instant ‘talk-back’ sites are being listened to by many, often resulting in changes occurring in elections; as evidenced in Israel’s last national election in March of this year. “The Internet has enabled people, especially Israelis and Jews living in the Diaspora to take part in forums on issues dealing not only with events occurring in Israel and in the Middle East, but on other issues effecting world Jewry as a whole”, Amir Gissin, the director of Israeli government’s Public Affairs Department commented recently. And no truer words have been spoken as the convenience of being ‘on-line’ has enabled people to communicate their ideas and opinions instantly, and receive replies and feed-back from other writers â€“ sometimes within minutes.
During the recent war in Lebanon, now being called Israel’s Second Lebanese War (the 1978 Lithani Operation is now considered as part of the 1982 Invasion of Lebanon as the IDF maintained a limited presence on Lebanese soil) a number of internet talk-back forums were opened between writers in both Israel and Lebanon, including some on this very blog-site. Though far from making lasting influences (or forming on-line chat friendships for that matter), these forums at least enabled people who might have never had the opportunity to be in touch with one another; with the possibility of creating at least some kind of amicable understanding of each other’s positions.
“The Israeli Government is very much aware of the influence that these forums have on public opinion. The internet ‘community’ is for sure the communications medium of the future”, Gissin further noted. As the personal email addresses of blog writers are often posted on these sites, it enables people who might have otherwise remained adversaries to freely communicate with each other without actually meeting.
While some talk-back comments are very ‘frank’, even to the point of being a bit ‘off the record’, it at lest enables people to let off steam and enable their true feelings to be known. With what is now transpiring in Israel, in the aftermath of a most problematic conflict, there is no doubt that opinions expressed on blog-sites and media talk-backs will make their mark â€“ all the way to the ballot box.