Technology can be menacing for Guyanese

Dear Editor,

There can only be awe at the marvels of technology developments and the enormous changes brought about for the better in the world lived today.  Revolutionary might be the word, and it is still not enough.  Even as I admire these tools at the fingertips, through its laying of the world at the feet, there is pause.  For there are underlying dangerous disturbing aspects of technology that must be recognized, and especially so in the context of torn, readily gullible Guyana.

Before proceeding with sharing my thoughts, I disclose that there are some extracts used as a basis from a CNN online article dated December 22, 2017 titled, ‘The year tech took a dark turn.’  It enlightens first, and then expands upon these serious concerns of mine.

To repeat the known, the role of modern communication technology is almost immeasurable; its reach near unfettered, and its power still unharnessed.  Intertwined with these still burgeoning elements, there is the security and irresponsibility that comes with anonymity; through those there can follow the ominous, the malicious, and the barbarous.  The smouldering ancient antagonisms of Guyana can be easily transformed into a tinderbox, because of easy access and the premediated misusing of technology for the purposes of mischief and provocation.  It does not take much effort, requires less brainpower, and harbours neither morality nor integrity in the hands of the calculating.  The retarded is reincarnated as an intellectual; the wicked into a comforting comrade; and the unscrupulous into an inciter.  The warped bigot, the anonymous bigot has the liberty to shout the equivalent of “fire” and then shrink away unknown and untouched.  But the damage is done; some damage has been done here.

Editor, as if to substantiate these sharp positions of mine, here is what that CNN story had to say.  Facebook is described as “enabling ethnic cleansing in Myanmar;” and Facebook’s WhatsApp was cited in a cause of beatings in India….  Further, Google has felt some heat for “child exploitation videos on YouTube.”  The article quoted Facebook’s wunderkind, Mark Zuckerberg, as apologizing for “the ways that my work was used to divide people than bring us together.”

Ethnic sensitivities and fragilities, and divisions are formidable presences in Guyana; already technology has been misused in the worst possible ways in these respects here.  The Facebook seniors readily acknowledge the problems nowadays.  Adam Mosseri, a Facebook vice-president, admitted that, “…connecting everyone and giving everyone the ability to share is not necessarily always a good thing.”  It can be said again, as that much has been learnt here.  Mr Mosseri went on to say that, “there will be costs of connecting the world.”  Those costs are not financial, but representative of the downside (or per CNN “the dark side”) of technology’s reach; its sweeping consuming tide, which can be any roiling destructive passion.  It is why this can be so menacing for Guyanese.

In Guyana regard for discipline, decency, and dignity is at low ebb; this much is obvious, and it grows lower daily.  There is great potential for harm to be inflicted at the social, political, and individual levels; such has proven to be the case, with more promised.  There can be a wreck in the waiting, in view of the lack of controls and anonymous nature of the electronic world.  Therein stands peril for this weak, easily led astray society.  As things heat up in an already overheated society geared towards 2020, I can foresee that this stupendous resource will be used to trap, to mislead, and to terrorize.  Though I am largely a non-user, even I can feel its influence.  And that is saying a lot.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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