Shall we be led by this 5-year-old?
Ronald Jones had a blistering message for some social media users last week, and rightfully so.
The flamboyant Minister of Education spared no adjectives as he sought to defend the principal of Harrison College against those “malicious” and “wicked” critics “seeking raw, naked sensationalism”, who would like to tell her which hairstyles should be allowed to be worn at her school.
Addressing a mentorship programme for secondary students, Mr Jones also tore into those “insidious” people, who, in his opinion, have been misusing the social media network by posting videos of children fighting on Facebook and other platforms. For Minister Jones, the act of posting the videos was almost as bad as the behaviour exhibited by the fighting students, who were, no doubt, egged on by peers.
In fact, he told a large gathering for the Axtel School Mentorship Programme that he had never encountered so much anger coming from young people like what he had seen on a video of four female students beating up on another.
Said Mr Jones: “One girl, I don’t know what she did, I don’t know how she annoyed the others, I don’t know if they didn’t like her . . . [but] there were about four girls all over her . . . and fists and feet were raining down in the most vicious manner. And the sounds that came from their mouths, their stomachs, were like raging beasts.”
The Minister of Education went on to condemn those responsible for videotaping the incident and posting it online, describing such action as insidious.
“You have to be standing there, positioning yourself to get the best video recording. That is insidious as well. And, you become a participant in the violence, and perpetuate the violence by posting it on Facebook, or YouTube, or WhatsApp, or whatever,” said Mr Jones, who also denounced the posting of another video on social media in which another hammer-wielding female student was ranting and gesticulating.
Thankfully, Minister Jones, there is more than just fighting for our children to view on social media.
And rather than getting into any needless “hairdo debate” at this time, we would rather highlight the positives of having our young people actively engaged on the social media network.
That the message has not gone forth to them that the worldwide web can, and must, be put to much more productive and positive use is a signal failing on our society’s part.
Indeed, we need to ask ourselves why is it that in a country that is so interconnected by smartphones and other high tech communication devices (in the many instances more than two per person), we have not been able to teach our children to put them to much smarter use than simply sharing pictures and jokes, playing Candy Crush and other games, or engaging in downright lawlessness, stupid and costly pranks, and the like.
When will all of this WiFi and fibre investment redound to seemless transaction of business, an Internet trade that is as bustling as the one on Fairchild Street most Saturday mornings, and, as in our case, fully takes up opportunities for instant and effective communication and feedback.
Indeed, now is not the time for us to roll back the clock or seek to put limits on the expression afforded our people by social media networks. What we need to do, however, is to teach our children, as well as our adults, how to make positive use of the available opportunities for business and learning.
And perhaps spend less time, Mr Jones, talking to them about where they will find videos of fighting.
It may sound a bit self-serving, but on a day when we celebrate our fifth birthday, maybe you may also want to tell them, Mr Jones, about where they can find the latest up-to-the-minute news and information around Barbados today.
A special thanks to all who helped us to make it to year five!