Misuse of social media for the wrong purposes

Dear Editor,
Not everyone mourns the same way. Some choose to shout and wring their hands whilst others cry as if their very souls are gone, yet there are some who show total control with an inner sort of steely resistance, using the opportunity to strengthen this resistance against the negativities of the world. Similarly, in the use of social media, different persons have different ways of dealing with issues.
The horrific recent killing of the two youths from West Coast Berbice has shown us the entire gamut of emotions humans display and how we choose to portray those. For many on the different apps, but especially the blue app of Facebook, there seems to be a great competition for attention. Many seem to want to take first place by posting the most or having the most popular post criticising different aspects of the killings. This is their right and no one should stop them because we live in a free world with little to no restrictions on social media. It is also the right of others to peacefully mourn in silence and for them to choose not to post on any matter.
What is callous and totally uncalled for is the need for those who are looking for self-gratification to try to belittle those who choose to mourn silently. I have seen many examples, especially those of some known political operatives trying to gain mileage by tagging persons who have chosen the route of silence and trying to pontificate to them just for likes or a following. Why the need? Are you so insecure in your own ability to effectively address the issue that you sheepishly seek the help of those much more capable but are not man or woman enough to come straight? Do you think by trying to belittle others that it will make persons see you in a better light? Is your voice and reach not enough? Can you not do your part and be satisfied?
Some persons will try to make everything about politics in this unfortunate situation and that is their right. But is it right to politicise everything? For those who find justification in such actions, kudos to you.
Yesterday we saw hundreds and even thousands of comments on the killing of the Henry boys. Many have pledged to “not take it anymore” or that “enough is enough”, yet how are they addressing the deep underlying issue? Are they going and offer sincere condolence to the family as I have seen some Christian brothers doing yesterday? Are they helping out with the funeral expenses if they can afford it as one political party has offered to do? Or are they helping the police in an active manner to bring the perpetrators to face justice?
You see, talk is cheap and action is much harder. Many will find excuses as to why they cannot offer tangible help. Others just don’t care enough but want to be “in the trend”. But how can we really do our part?
First of all, we must hold those in responsible positions, responsible. It is the duty of the law agencies to protect each and every citizen. The Guyana Police Force must be allowed to do their work. If anyone is in a position to assist them, the GPF should not even have to ask for help. Next, the community leaders, both those elected and selected must play their part in offering guidance and counselling in these trying times. Village leaders, religious leaders and senior regional personnel must get involved. That is why they were given that mandate. Lastly and most importantly, our politicians, both Government and Opposition must be held responsible. All have had a chance to find a solution to heal our nation from this racial division yet all have utterly failed us. How much longer must we continue with such abject failures? How much longer must we the people suffer putting up with leaders who seem to only care about themselves and their own well-being? When are we the people going to hold them truly accountable?
The killing of the Henry boys is the latest example in a long and sorrowful tale, but it will not be the last if we choose to sit back and pontificate from our social media pulpits while looking for likes and a following. It is time we force all our leaders to accept that there is a big problem named racism and commit all stakeholders to begin addressing it forthwith. We have to start. We have missed our opportunity for over 60 years so we are starting well behind schedule but start we must. This divide needs to be bridged. This enmity that silently exists needs to be brought to the open and broken down and destroyed forever. We the people must be the ones to do this. No more hiding in our houses, no more fake friendships, no more getting along well for 4 out of every 5 years. Why not all 5 years in every election cycle? Is that too hard or too much to ask?
To the divisionists and those that chant “is we time now” every 5 years, you have had your time. You did not make use of it wisely. It is that very behaviour that has brought us here. It is that very behaviour which took the lives of the two kids and it is that same behaviour that is causing the robbing and looting of the vehicles that are passing each blockade on the West Coast Berbice road. How much longer must we go on living like this?
Finally, for those who may attempt coming for me because they choose not to accept the reality, take a step back and do some introspection. How have your action/s on this blue app helped over the past 24 hours? Did it really bring acknowledgement of the enduring issue at hand or did it bring its fair share of more division and negative comments? Think quietly in your corner, it is your right. No political party will fix this issue by themself, no one President has the answer. No one religion can address it effectively. We all must play a positive role in addressing this problem, our problem, a Guyanese problem, racism.
IF you want to know my personal view of the issue, then take a look at Tuesday’s Kaieteur News to read my letter to the editor. I chose to share it with Guyana and all Guyanese who really matter and not with those on the blue app who are simply looking for likes and a following. Our issue is a national one. We must address it as a nation, as one people, with one common destiny.

Dr Mark France