Social media is a gift to the modern world and if you are reading this post you are playing your part in keeping this unique eco system alive. No longer do we have to wait for the pendulum to swing left or right. We all have access to the internal mechanism and can post anything news worthy. It’s fast, raw and uncut appeal equips the nation with an unspoilt view from every facet. Driven by its own messengers, an eyewitness is a self-proclaimed reporter broadcasting the people's news.
It is easy to spend a disproportionate amount of time feasting on tasty snacks; Tweeties, Insta Bites, Face Puffs and Pin Balls. They are all designed to tickle the taste buds and leave you with a moreish appeal. How do we create a healthy social media lifestyle without compromising our cyber relationships? But maybe this isn’t the time to follow the manufacturer’s recommended daily requirements. What can we do to fend off addictive social parasites? If you are like me and had to break into a sprint to catch the media train, keeping pace with the trend setters is an exhausting task. I sometimes wish the world would slow down so I can alight and catch my breath.
As the eldest child in our house I ran errands and delivered daily messages. Reluctantly ferrying supplies from the local shop, I nervously clutched scrappy notes written in my Mother's delicate and swirly handwriting. I was grateful that Mr Sam at the corner shop was of a similar generation and could easily decipher Mother’s code. Her message provided the right currency to obtain groceries on tick until the weekend.
My messaging career hit its high point the first time I encountered death and experienced the exuberant outpouring of grief within the Caribbean community. Our neighbour, Mr Duke had collapsed and lay dead in the back yard for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, the body was wheeled through the back entry a tomb like tunnel, encased in black masonry bricks. I stood a heart beats distance away and watched as the body shaped white sheet emerged, moving eerily along, jolting against the uneven floor. I was astonished as the trolley was raised and the ambulance doors closed and took Dukey away. It was years before I could walk on that side of the street without seeing his shape shifting in the darkness. Our house became the go to place where people came to verify the story. Through a haze of blue smoke, I relayed my testimony to be questioned by my elders as grown men and women stumbled and wailed. The Caribbean community grieved openly with arms out stretched, both to give and receive comfort from their loved ones. To my delight conversations like these have lived on for decades, laughter and tears bounded across garden fences, propped up the bar at supping time and into uncensored banter in the bookies.
Back in the day I ran from door to door to gather friends and family by delivering Mother’s welcome messages. ‘De dutch pot ful ah Ackee and Saltfish’. The world wasn’t complicated back then. People took the time to talk, embrace and hug or simply write to each other across continents and share personal memories. Technology has advanced us in ways that my poor Mother would never comprehend, but in her mind, she could love thy neighbour with a daily bang on the kitchen wall with her old broom handle, to let the old lady know she was about to visit. Friendship, honesty and integrity formed the backbone of communities where everyone reached out to help each other.
As I blink myself back to our social media demanding world and compare how a modern tragedy can so easily become a viral phenomenon. It takes a relatively short time for the hungry exchange of information, posts, views and engaging reactions. We have all experienced being pulled along in the euphoria sniffing out hashtags, updated feeds and conversations to increase our followers. As we throw caution to the wind obsession takes hold to fuel the search for people to tag and stalk in our effort to reach that all time high. I too have floated high on the tempting aroma, elevated like the Bisto Kid and carried away by the promise of the gravy boat. I can recognise my own behaviour, can you?
‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?’ Martin Luther King, Jr