Social media is the new eye of the world – By Adam Harris

Social media is the new eye of the world

Social media is responsible for many things coming to light, some of the incidents so disturbing that there are people who simply cannot watch the gruesome nature of the scenes contained in some of the videos.

Through social media, I saw some of the activities of the group called ISIS—the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. One video showed some men kneeling and a hooded ISIS member standing nearby with a sword. Had it been a movie the scene would have been no less gruesome, but people would have walked away with the idea that it is only a movie.      

In this case it was real. The hooded ISIS member simply walked up to the men and beheaded them one by one. I watched those men die.

It was the same when someone posted the video of ISIS placing a captured Syrian airman in a cage and setting him afire. Again I watched him die.

One would say that after a while, people would grow accustomed to these things but one never gets accustomed to barbarity in real life. So it was that one of my colleagues received a video of this young boy being killed by a group suspected to be Venezuelans. That killing was no less barbaric than those conducted by ISIS.

I could not watch it. However, some watched it in awe. The question asked was, “What could the young man have done to die in that manner?” Somebody said that from the video he heard what sounded like drugs and that the killer group wanted to send a message.

The message was sent, but I am certain that the authorities in Guyana have no way of getting to the perpetrators. They could seek help from Venezuela but again, that neighbouring country has troubles of its own to worry about one Guyanese who strayed across the border.

The reality is that people post anything on social media. The videos range from sex to bestiality to robberies to murder. In many cases, these videos would lead to arrests. I read constantly how there are people who would perform criminal acts and post them on social media only to attract the attention of the police.

But social media is not all bad. Increasingly, politicians are taking to social media to get their messages across. United States President Donald Trump seems to live on social media. His every thought is posted and they impact the world. Today, there is not a day going by without President Trump tweeting some edict or the other.

People follow them and comment extensively on them to the point that lawyers and social commentators find material to last them a lifetime. When history is recorded, President Trump’s tweets would feature prominently.

There are chat groups that comment on issues round the clock. And these groups keep expanding as people rush to make their views known. One issue involved a calf that was impounded in a police station compound. The commentators never let up until the police released the calf from custody.

In Guyana, social media is slowly taking over mainstream media. They are first with news about some happening in the country. For example, there was a shooting in Leopold Street the other day. I was made aware of it through social media. Reporters raced to the scene. Some had to wait hours to get their story out, albeit in more detail, but social media had already provided the story as it happened.

I saw a young man get a beating within an inch of his life on social media. He had attempted to rob a woman in the company of his friend. He got caught. His tormentors were merciless. I concluded that this young man would never steal again but there is a school of thought that I would be wrong.

If I am wrong, then it must be that this young man has a mental problem, as is the case with many in the prisons. Society judges people by its own standards. Anyone who is operating outside the norm is an aberration.

How else can one explain a man coming out of jail and heading back there before the sun sets? How does one explain the inability of people to understand simple things like right from wrong? This inability is what fuels some of the videos one sees on social media.

People have seen some barbaric things happen to people on social media because they ran afoul of the drug lords or some drug dealer. Yet there are many others who gravitate to this situation. It is as though each person believes that he will be different; that he will not be caught.

Facebook is perhaps the most popular of the lot. At last count there were some two billion people, one third of the global population, on Facebook. People chat almost incessantly on this social media. Many make friends.

In one case with which I am familiar, a United States-based Guyanese met a young woman from Bartica on Facebook. He travelled to Guyana and the first time he saw her was when he deplaned at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. He married her before he returned to the United States. Today she is living with him. In fact, they have a child together.

But Facebook, like WhatsApp, is more than chatting. It offers video conferencing and telephone conversations. People talk with their relatives in all corners of the world for free. The result is that people are closer than they ever were.

Even prisoners are not exempt. Many of them have phones and they keep abreast of happenings in the outside world. Some of them actually stream newscasts into their cells. They also read newspapers.

I know that the previous administration barred Kaieteur News from the prisons, but that did not stop the prisoners from reading the newspaper, which is posted online. The very prisoners see the atrocities committed in other corners of the world once these are posted, and only heaven knows what goes through their minds.

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