I read that things have escalated jarringly. I sense the ground being prepared for electronic conflict. Thanks to its ubiquitous nature and unending reach, Facebook has now been marshalled for personal and political offensives, mileage, and damage; the good is overwhelmed. This is the dark side of Facebook that I fear; why I avoid it like the plague. I know I lose some value, but not budging.
Editor, regrettably, this wondrous tool has the potential for misuse and mischief, and through doing so, multitudes diminish considerably the positives of its revolutionary presence. It mutates into a free-for-all in malicious, irresponsible, unaccountable Guyana.
Facebook is the perfect tool. I am nowhere near it, but I hear it. Shout “Fire” before a congested and angrily divided audience, and it is guarantee of a frenzied rush toward the throats and outlines of cyber enemies and combatants, political and social foes all, be they imagined or already prejudged and condemned into the most unpardonable of corners. Those shouts ring loud from every impassioned corner of this country.
The electronic hysteria that unfolds has another unbeatable advantage: it affords the cloak of anonymity for one and all; it empowers the scurrilous and the cunning to sow the most poisonous seeds and weeds in a very receptive and supercharged radioactive political environment. And that toxic environment is diseased through and through with the ugliness of race.
In Guyana, politics is race; race is rage; rage is indiscretion; and indiscretion inevitably is insanity. The maddened and committed and the uncontrolled know neither reasoning nor respecting nor the discipline of anything that is self-restraining. Unchecked, cyber adversaries become physical ones. This I discern; this is not debatable.
Editor, as is too well known, Facebook could function as that most powerful of platforms, from which to demean, to incite, and to upend. This resource in the hands of an unmanaged and uncaring electronic herd (it is an electronic mob, too) facilitates and powers many things for the wrong objectives, the worst of objectives in this embittered, tinderbox square of local political topography.
There is the ability (and intense readiness) to engage in scandal-mongering without culpability, to initiate reputational tampering without answerability, and to partake in clever and not always subtle race-baiting without a care for the vulnerabilities that can be triggered.
A not-so-constructive start has been made; two sitting ministers of the government have come under a sharp fusillade of allegations that are sweeping and imperiling. Imperiling as to the civility of discourse, as to temperateness in a time that needs it more than any other time.
The fevers still rising are at that pitch, the emotions still surging, gather to go to still higher levels, and the chronic antagonisms daily multiplying reach for any spark, any excuse, any opening to exhibit the real hate-filled face and the true tress-clotted heart that is of Guyana, and on edge Guyanese. The CCJ’s rulings will only feed.
Those two tactically chosen ministerial electronic assaults could be the first step in a calculated upping of the ante and rearranging the political, racial, and social temperatures. They may contain elements of fact, but it is not the best of ways, or for the most progressive of purposes.
Things like these two examples render moot all anticipations of news (all holdings) from the regional jurists pondering Guyana’s complex simplicities; they reveal so much about an unlearning and incorrigible polity. They could be two preemptive instances that are part of a larger emerging strategy waiting at fingertip and before keypad and keyboard. A different kind of games would begin. There is sure to follow the quick retaliatory in-kind responses, the intrusive talons that pierce and wound without regard for truth or accuracy or sanity from the other side of the divide. The terrain already inaccessible to begin with, threatens to deteriorate into the even more impassable.
One target is contemplating (has indicated) lawsuits to be filed. That is one remedial route that may usher in some semblance of thoughtfulness, less recklessness. The rank and file in the camps of diehard loyalists and extremists are not constrained by such litigious niceties and recourses. They place their own interpretations and their own solutions to things.
Unless the wiser minds and more sober heads in the major political groups are aware of the risks, rise to the challenge of the hard hour ahead, and insist on another way, a less confrontational approach, then these overt and covert electronic battles can escalate where no one wants to go, but could easily do.
Editor, though I am not on Facebook or any social media (I limit myself to email and text and only recently WhatsApp), I recognize and laud its reach when used conscientiously and honestly. I welcome it, in all of its faces, as a channel of national and global connectivity; a universal medium for frank and principled exchanges (from any distance) on just about any subject; and as forum and clearing house for the distillation of ideas and visions. This bitter and broken society could benefit immensely from access to this tool and resource, when used responsibly and ethically. It cannot – and must not – be a weapon. In this country, the potential to go ballistic (nuclear) is all too easy, too imminent. I believe it is that kind of weapon.
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