Through a screen, darkly

From time to time, my younger son, a Navy officer, contributes a review. This one is particularly timely, not to mention thought-provoking.

Reviewed by Lt. Samuel Brinson

LIKEWAR: The Weaponization of Social Media. By P. W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 416 pages. $28

Over the last few years, the internet and specifically social media have grown to be the most prevalent form of interaction between the newsmakers and news consumers in our society. This change has led to lots of thought pieces and handwringing from those who view this as the beginning of the end for our properly informed Western society. In LikeWar, P.W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking, two high level National Security experts, take their swing at what has happened and where we are to go from here. If you read their book, your beliefs about the state of media, social interaction and society as a whole will be questioned, while your understanding of the events that have led us here will be greatly increased.

LikeWar explores many facets of our recent technological boom, taking us from the beginning of the internet through the current events of Russian meddling and even front-line battlefield issues of which the average reader is probably unaware. This book provides a playbook for the future by outlining the past, as all good military and strategic history books do. I wouldn’t be surprised if this book is soon referenced in college courses covering our current state of affairs and showing some views of how people should move forward.

Although thoroughly cited and well researched (as evidenced by its more than 100 pages of end notes), this book is shockingly easy to read and will keep the reader glued to the pages.

LikeWar lays out why we shouldn’t be looking at social media and our online presence in the innocent ways that we did when they began. Every tweet, every post and every click on the internet can actually be interpreted as a shot fired in the new 21stcentury war, which is waged in the airwaves. Singer and Brooking do an excellent job of illustrating this by showing comparisons between modern issues and historic lessons as old as the “Allegory of the Cave” from Plato’s Republic.

This book is a must read for any person who wishes to be an involved citizen in the 21stcentury, as it makes us all aware of just how important every action we take in our day-to-day lives is, even those occurring through a screen. While I can’t promise that you’ll feel better about our current state of affairs after reading LikeWar, I believe it is vitally important that every American read this book and take to heart what it lays before us.

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