I don’t need long thought, reflection or analysis to state categorically and unapologetically that social media is now the greatest space of dysfunction ever created. However. I can also be honest in saying that was not my impression in the early days of using Facebook. Then, the idea of finding lost friends and associates, rekindling long time friendships through a more convenient route and the idea of “different” was quite novel.
There is a school of thought that the unbridled and unchecked nature of social media for years created a most bizarre twist from the relatively easy interactions of different opinions from different people all over, turning into ravings of rabid behaviour. I would say the channels of exposure for interaction remained within certain circles and for the first time, social media unleashed the potential for us to all exist in the same space on an even slate. It meant boardroom and bar counter, party and preacher, Christian and carousing crew all sat in the same space.
This was a great recipe for wider interaction and the obviously stated “social” interaction across societal borders and of course, a chance to better create bridges. The one element we forgot to take note of was how much the society known to be constantly contentious, a country with high violence and conflict, could be covered under the blanket of anonymity within a space “designed for all”.
What have we ended up seeing over time? The overbearing element of hate, vitriol, disrespect and personal arrows between and among people who don’t even know each other personally. The longstanding leech of partisan politics armed with the devil has carried us back into the deadly and destructive rhetoric era of the 1970’s. So on a daily basis what now obtains is a most divisive interaction in the streets of social media, carried by those who strongly and stridently believe they have the right to say whatever they so choose.
The need for tact, diplomacy or just basic decency has been thrown through the window, with personal attacks being the order of the day. It is common to see posts made that defame, denigrate, libel and slander people at all levels across society. It is even more concerning that people defend the right to use “freedom of speech and expression” to declare whatever they so choose. Of course, Jamaica not being a country with citizens captured by the need for courthouses, complaints and lawsuits makes it open season for those so inclined to promote negativity.
The almost laughable idea is seeing the same seas of people who interact daily in violence mode while hiding behind computer screens and smart phones being the same set who bemoan the crime rate in the streets. If social media is a clear canvas for a community constantly caught in caustic conversations, can you imagine face to face interactions of those willing to be physically violent? Social media is now a war zone, a very antisocial space.