UK Riots, Social Media AND The Real Problem

13/08/2011 — Leave a comment

I read a Mashable blog post about Facebook and (Research In Motion) RIM, the Blackberry manufacturer, going to meet UK government officials. The agenda seems to be a result of prime minister, David Cameron’s statement in the House of Commons. According to Mashable, David Cameron mentioned on how, together with some government agencies, they were looking into the possibility of stopping people that were communicating on social media platforms with malevolent intent.

webtreats flickr UK Riots, Social Media AND The Real Problem

My thoughts… Imposing a ban may not really be the solution.  I think it is important to have some regulations and laws in order to protect people. At the same time I think the riots and history has shown that while the law may deter some from engaging in some activities, it will not deter all. Putting a ban on social media could be like putting a ban on the use of cars because bank robbers used it as a means to get away. Traffic laws still exist… There should be regulations… You cannot shutdown a whole transport system because the ‘bad guys’ use it to get about. How different would the UK government be from some of the states they’ve lambasted in implementing some communication restrictions, if they did the same…? That would be hypocritical! It would be sad waste resources to pursue eradication of means to destructive ends that are merely tools. The scope of my post is not the ban or regulations…

Somehow attention seems to be going to social media. As I’ve already suggested, I don’t think imposing a ban on social media is the solution. The problem is not social media per se. Social media is merely an ‘innocent’ tool. It is neither good nor bad. When society is faced with what the UK experienced recently, it is more important to look at why people did what they did and to the extent they went. Not necessarily what they used. The recent events should cause the UK government and other countries around to world to ask, why the riots started in the first place.

One of the issues is that of values. People’s actions are a mere manifestation of their values. Actions will be always lived out based on the values embraced. The majority of the rioters were young people. In the recent years how people were brought up has been used as justification for malevolent action. In this case, I think it may be used appropriately. Before we blame the looting rioters I think society must first acknowledge and own its part in raising generation acting in this manner. This does not absolve the young people of any responsibility. They still had choices to not participate and perhaps start a counter campaign. Some made choices not to give in to negative peer pressure. Some opportunists grabbed at the chance to get things they never broke a sweat to attain.

 The riots are evidence that work, integrity, character, justice, goodwill to others and other values are no longer as highly esteemed. This could be a result of government policies. It could relate to how the young people are being brought up. It could be a result of the promotion of flippant value on things / stuff, they are taught by some bad role models. Perhaps just a heightened selfishness. Maybe all of the above…

 This is a debate I’ve been having with myself. I honestly don’t know the answer. Oh! And before it sounds like I’m out to bash the UK government, let me say it could’ve been any country in the world. I wonder how many other countries or communities around the world, under the right conditions would’ve experienced what the UK has in the last few days. I think the riots and looting should be a wakeup call not just to the UK government, but the world at large.

 We should all be looking at ourselves, as individuals, families, communities, counties, districts and countries and ask ourselves some questions. What kind of communities are we building? What values are we embracing and perpetuating in the lives of the young around us? Why do we seem not to have the courage to address the real issues, but rush to ‘blame’ the tools being used to manifest the fruit of our failure to confront ourselves and our children? The question we should be asking is not what was stolen. It should not be what was used to rally the young people; if the tools used were to be taken away completely, I am sure they would find other means if they were determined. The question should be why and how are we contributing to this denigration of values, as individuals right up to the collective as nations?

 Your thoughts?


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