Sunday, August 23, 2015

Freedom of the Press, Convenience, Truth, and Social Media

The three wise monkeys -Iwazaru, Mizaru, and Kikazaru
Recently I have noticed a subtle yet concerted effort to target those who use social media to express dissenting views. This effort has gradually increased in crescendo as the rhetoric, both online and off, has continued by those who have vested interests in silencing any criticism or opposing viewpoints. 

For whatever reason those in the diaspora come in for special attention since their medium of choice for expressing, unfettered, their points of view, is social media. It has allowed all and sundry to sidestep any blocks or censorship to their patriotic concerns and rights to freedom of speech and expression. This freedom and flexibility is clearly an issue to some. Ironically those who find fault with others' use of this medium wish to maintain it for the expression of their own perspectives wherever, whenever, and however they please. The use and freedoms of use should only be for a select few who share and espouse the same leanings as them.

They sit on their lofty perches as if theirs is the only valid voice of relevance or importance. Little do they realize that the perspectives of all are important, including the uneducated and those perceived to be the lowest in our society. Everyone has their real world experiences which are all part of the big picture.

Just because some do not have the same societal or political status does not mean their vision of their world is irrelevant. In typical Saint Lucian fashion the attitude displayed to them asks, "Who are you?" As if one needs to be of a special club to have a valid or worthy point of view.

This is the Internet age when information is accessible by all and sundry. No longer is it reserved for those who have financial means or those with special connections to know of what happens in the world today. No longer is information delayed by weeks, months, or even years before a publication lands on our shores. 

No one needs to be an expert to express an opinion. Hell, even experts disagree vehemently with each other; we see it everyday in courts of law. Ironically, social media has made these instances readily available for the world to witness and discuss.

The diaspora is always chided for its unrealistic perspective on Saint Lucian life and politics because "you live in metropolitan countries in the outside world"  or their experience is from "over there" and does not relate. Baloney!

Yet it is this same foreign experience and perspective that the multitude of consultants bring to our shores when hired. All of a sudden it is now relevant. 

If anyone is cognizant of the reach social of media and the Internet it should be our politicians and representatives who are of even higher visibility. They, more than anyone else should realize that their every utterance has more influence and reach than the average citizen who dissents on Facebook or other social media. As a result they should be even more mindful that every lie, half truth, mamaguy, character assassination, bluff, propaganda spew, or other utterance is under even greater scrutiny and has even more weight.

The complaint that everyone seems to feel they are an expert is surprising when it is considered that people making these complaints portray themselves as experts of everything. Such hypocrisy!

The complaint that the average man and woman does not understand or have a meaningful grasp of the issues seems to evaporate around elections time when they somehow, magically, develop the understanding of complex issues thrown about on the campaign trail. These lowly people who dare not comment on social media with their faux sense of expertism are suddenly smart enough to make a decision to render a victor at the polls. A few days later they no longer have what it takes to understand and comment on these very same issues. 

The ordinary citizen posting on Facebook or other social media is not the cause of Saint Lucia's current economic, financial, investment, or other malady. It lies squarely on the shoulders of our politicians, whether elected, selected, or appointed. 

This attitude clearly exemplifies what is obviously expressed behind closed doors.

The three wise monkeys, sometimes called the three mystic apes embody the proverbial principle "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." There are various meanings ascribed to the monkeys and the proverb including associations with being of good mind, speech and action. In the Western world the phrase is often used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by turning a blind eye.