Is Social Media Dictating Montserrat's Social Change Adversely Beyond Recognition?

Many have sat back and applauded the deliberate dumbing down of the national development conversation this past year. Unverified facts, misinformation, mistruths via hearsay and gossip have become the order of discussion and commentary.

Is Social Media Dictating Montserrat's Social Change Adversely Beyond Recognition?

A few weeks ago I read a piece in The Guardian where a former Facebook executive made it known that he feels, what he described as “tremendous guilt” over his work on “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”

A few weeks ago I read a piece in The Guardian where a former Facebook executive made it known that he feels, what he described as “tremendous guilt” over his work on “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”

I read the piece with deep intrigue. Coming directly from a former executive of the social media giant, it was refreshing to see this outpouring of honest reflection.

I too have had my very own musings around this concern shared by the facebook executive. Facebook, while it is a tool for immense good and the promotion of worthy causes et al; it is also a tool that has laid waste to civil discourse in many regards. Facebook interactions in some ways, have been responsible for the erosion of what was once known as privacy with its many invasive and often abused tools towards excessive narcissism and over the top personal exposure.

Chamath Palihapitiya, who worked as vice-president for user growth at Facebook further went on to state; “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.”

“Misinformation” and “mistruth.” Those are the two terms that have been of concern to me particularly, with the rise of untrained media persons who pay little attention to facts and accuracy, but are more so steeped in hype, likes, and the chorus of the crowd all in unison without any dissenting voices.

We have to examine the state of our discourse going forward, and the deep acrimony it has been creating within our communities.

As mentioned prior, social media can be used for immense good across many fronts, but also within this very same space there are some enablers, as well as there are some blatant deniers of progressive intent.

There are some individuals acting in the capacity of double agents; operating on this landscape of open discussion and debate, where on one hand they are speaking towards the desperate need for development and investment for Montserrat; yet with the same tongue they have been busy telling a message to the world that Montserrat is not fit for development and investment. Hence, I have to wonder if their intent is to sabotage their own country at the expense of their personal aggrandisement and exaltation.

Observing many of the conversation these last few months, I have stated prior, and will say again that we are having no new conversations. None. The question that sticks out to me as the conversations become more and more circular, is one where I wonder if Montserrat has lost its way?

We know the bucket load of issues that face the country, yet the island seems to be in this field of despair, propagated continually by the tone and the manner of the social media interactions. Everyone wants to be right, and to be the one with the most and best ideas. Ok fine. But where are the ones to show purposeful execution in seeing through those ideas?

When will we move our mindset away from having a problem with everything, towards beginning to change the conversation and look to be enablers of progress for Montserrat?

That call to *change the conversation* was initiated and promoted several times in the past by this media house, MNI Media. It was near tragic against all ideals of progress to see some of the people who were against this mantra of changing the conversation. Instead, they seemingly preferred an adversarial and drama driven type of discourse that resulted in nothing being changed for the country.

It is some of these people who are so up in arms about the lack of progress on Montserrat, which in turn spread discouragement from investing in the island.

Some of us will tune our mikes towards berating everything that is wrong with the country, or we can choose to stand on a different side of history and be involved in fixing the country from an entirely different perspective and mindset.

Many have sat back and applauded the deliberate dumbing down of the national development conversation this past year. Unverified facts, misinformation, mistruths via hearsay and gossip have become the order of discussion and commentary. These have become so deeply entrenched that some of the instigators of these modes of engagement make it so that rumour is now facts and the innuendo the basis of discussion in their realms.

Does Trump’s America mirror Montserrat’s current situation? Are we in a court where all that now matters is what comes via a whatsapp message? Or what someone chooses to say against another without there being any truth to it?

As the former facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya said about facebook interactions n recent times: “It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other.”

The question heading into 2018 is, how do we bring about a correction?


Note: Jeevan A. Robinson is Editor-in-Chief and Head of Business Development at Marketing, News & Information Media - MNI Media. He can be reached at jeevan@mnialive.com