As new revelations about the National Security Agency’s top-secret surveillance programs keep on coming, many Americans could use a little comic relief.
That needed levity has found a home on a hilarious new Tumblr aptly dubbed “Obama Is Checking Your Email.”
Launched Sunday, just a few days after the Guardian broke the blockbuster stories that the NSA is monitoring millions of Americans' phone calls and that a shady program called PRISM allows for unprecedented levels of online snooping, the site is as timely as they come.
Featuring images of President Barack Obama peering at children’s laptops, companies’ workstations, and a range of smartphones, the Tumblr is a simple yet sharp way of distilling the complicated scandals into a simple stream of once-innocuous images which now take on a dark double meaning.
And it appears to be gaining popularity, as many of the initial posts have only 14 “Notes” (essentially the Tumblr equivalent of a “Like” or “Comment” on Facebook), while the most recent one garnered had 299 Notes as of Monday afternoon.
Though the images depict Obama engaged in what is more than likely the most inane or innocent of daily computing tasks, they provide a visual representation of a more existential issue.
Obama almost definitely doesn’t spend his days in the Oval Office trawling through random citizens’ Gmail logs, Facebook posts and Internet histories.
But ever since the secret surveillance disclosures of the past week came to light, that concept is less outlandish, and more deeply disturbing. He could do these things if he wanted to, we now know. And his minions in the vast American intelligence apparatus probably are.
Beyond that, the president has shrugged off the rabid criticism of the newly disclosed policies in a dismissive manner that suggests there is much more that we don’t know about how we are being watched.
It’s a brave new world, and “Obama Is Checking Your Email” is one of the best means of making light of it to emerge in recent days.