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Social media for ‘change’

Marlon Madden

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FORMER OPPOSITION LEADER Mia Mottley, is suggesting that Barbadians use social media as an avenue to bring about change.
She made the call during a social media seminar put on by Flying Fish Studios Inc. at the Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre yesterday.
Mottley told the gathering of business people that social media should be used as a democratic forum to evoke change.
 In comparing technology to the law of a country, she further posited that technology could either be “a tool for empowerment or an instrument of oppression”.
“We have the perfect opportunity now to use that technology but marrying it to the essence of who we are as Bajans in terms of our commitment to social justice and the other values that made us who we are over the centuries.”
Mottley said there was still a top down approach in Barbados although it was considered a democratic country and she was therefore calling on young people to start tackling issues they felt passionate about since “democracy is about the people”.
“How much ever it is used only for social chit-chat or communication . . . that is what it was intended for initially; but its wider usage, as reflected by those in Tunisia and Egypt and those who are now enterprises, is much greater.
“And how do we in politics equally seek to use it to disseminate information? So there is a greater level of engagement of [the] average citizen rather than believing that that reporting must come every five years when there is an election.”
Mottley asked: “How many of you, for example, want to be able to speak out about the quality of the telecommunications infrastructure in this country? How many of you want to be able to say that for a country that has the kind of developmental profile that Barbados has, that there is no functioning 3G or higher network in Barbados?”
Mottley further urged people to use Facebook and Twitter for “meaningful activities that effectively expand our opportunities for success”.
 She said politicians were sometimes the ones who “liked to defend the status quo most” and unfortunately the status quo was not going to “enhance democracy”.
“It is not going to carry us to the next level and it is not going to allow us to be able to meet our obligations fiscally and otherwise and therefore the question is, how do we improve our democracy by a more continuous engagement of our people?
“Politicians respond to numbers, they get elected by numbers, they hear you when numbers start to add up and even though the old people tell you that one-one blow does kill old cow, the truth is, if you have one one blow times a hundred thousand you could imagine how much more effective it would be,” she stated.
The St Michael North-East Member of Parliament said that young people were more interested in issues that affected them and not a political party. She posited that social media gave the ability for people to “feed information to allow people to make up their minds”.
“ . . . Young people, predominantly under 40 years, are less interested in Bee or Dee . . . they are not into the alphabet but they are interested in causes,” she said.
Mottley warned however, that while social media had “effectively made everyone an author, a critic or participant”, there was a special responsibility which accompanied that.
“. . . Part of the difficulty that we face is that the power to express and be, that is apparent in social media, has now to be underpinned  by recognition of the responsibilities that we have to other people.
“If not, who would stop the creation of a hate movement, who would stop the creation of propaganda that effectively marginalize or discriminates against any one group of people?”