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The Old-Boys Network

Social Media Starfish

As I sit down to work on this week's assignment, I thought about starting with one of those deep, meaningful quotes about change ... and my mind went blank! I know it can't be memory loss due to age, I have not even yet crossed the other side of 30 ... so rather than a cliche phrase, I want this to come from my heart...

I live on a small island, 275 000 people, 166 square miles ... Barbados, gem of the Caribbean Sea ... we are a pretty fortunate country but I think we have rested on our laurels for too long. The Boys-Network, are the persons in a professional and social capacity who want to maintain the hierarchy between the "haves" and the "have nots". It benefits the members of this "club" to maintain the status quo. It is usually the case of a minority controlling the political, economic and social power of the island. If I am the richest person on the island and I pay both political parties - it does not matter which one gets into power, my bread has been buttered on both sides! And that is the problem with my country. Pockets have been lined with corrupt money and treasures. The new ones on the scene start off optimistic, uttering "Be the change you want to see", then a few years later, you stare into their jaded eyes as they are now about "self" and "WIFM" (what's in it for me) ... the bureaucratic nature of my society also presents some challenges and barriers to creating change ... no one has the "cojones" to make a decision and implement it! That's our main problem, the implementation phase. We have great intellectuals and decision makers but we do not have persons who want to stand by and execute...

With the advent of social media and the strength of properly organised NGOs, I think we as a society has been presented with some solutions to overcome some of these challenges and barriers ... no longer can we use the excuse "we don't have a budget/we have no money" to advertise - there is Facebook, Twitter, PulseWire, MySpace and numerous other social media tools and applications that allow us to do this - as long as we have internet access! These tools also provide us with a level of anonymity which is sometimes necessary. Especially in a small island like Barbados, going against the "norm" can lead to discrimination and being ostracized. However, using a "profile" online that can protect your identity in a situation where you are actually protecting your life, is also another way of overcoming the hurdles that the "old boys" club has set up along the way.

One of the things we must always remember though - it is still for some a privilege to access the internet and these social media tools, so we have to work on strategies as to how to help these persons also influence change in their societies...

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Comments

Andrea Arzaba's picture

:)

A big hug to you my sister!!! Thank you for this post

nkinyanjui's picture

haah Leelee thanks for this

haah Leelee thanks for this one. I am also just bordering the 30 mark ;-) the WIFM, has become the order of the day in this world, what a shame. Your right about the social networks they have become so powerful but the limitation being that they are only accessible to few who can afford internet. When it comes to development its the same here. Brilliant minds are able to come up with good reforms and the minute the implementation begins (or doesn't) its like we are all wondering who's going to have the balls to jump in to take the lead.

Ciao
N

Leelee's picture

I know right N - why don't we

I know right N - why don't we have the balls? We have the balls to go to war and shoot and bomb people but don't have the balls to implement strategies that could better the lives of many? Grrr!!!

'Harlem: A Dream Deferred' - Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
Like a syrupy sweet?

nkinyanjui's picture

Grrr!! back at you

Grrr!! back at you

harinees's picture

The same problem

Thanks for sharing the problem seen in Barbados. Unfortunately, it seems the same problem in so many different countries. I agree, the internet hasn't reached everyone yet - so we are still constrained in that respect. I would have loved to see you provide specific examples of your present solutions in overcoming these barriers. Have you used social media to bring justice to someone - in your own way? How has that worked out? Or have you had other challenges in doing so?

Leelee's picture

Hi harinees - some of the

Hi harinees - some of the specific solutions I have used may not be applicable across the board. I think the solutions also involve how you harness your personality and if you can take the "blows" that you will get from being someone who stands out from the crowd. I think in some of the grass roots projects and campaigns here in Barbados we have used social media to declare our discontent with the police brutality and deaths of young persons in their custody. There was a young Rastafarian who the police said committed suicide in their presence when all the evidence pointed to the contrary. Although the death was now labeled "death by misadventure", the friends of the young man have been campaigning and have just released a DVD about the story so we are using the tools that we have to stand up and talk back to the establishment. The challenges faced is that in a society as small as ours you can be discriminated against and blocked from jobs etc. once you are known to be affiliated with a cause that is against the establishment.

'Harlem: A Dream Deferred' - Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
Like a syrupy sweet?

EleanorJohnstone's picture

Leelee, this is great work! I

Leelee, this is great work! I laughed a little at your opening lines, referring to trying to start with an nspiring, meditative quote. I often start out this way, get stuck, and wind up jumping in on a rant of some kind : ) Both styles are effective, though!

You have a marvelous way with words that truly paints the situation in your country. I found your style very engaging, good work!

Also, I like the insight you offered on the relationship between money and the internet, and that while the internet is liberating this liberation is partially defined by its protection of the individual's identity. In a way, that opens up discussions on another side of the internet: that by offering light, it reveals the dark side of a situation. We must hope for a time when people do not feel the need to hide even here.

Thank you so much for your work!

~ Eleanor

Leelee's picture

Thanks Eleanor for your

Thanks Eleanor for your comments and kind words! I am in World Pulse assignment withdrawal now hahaha!

'Harlem: A Dream Deferred' - Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
Like a syrupy sweet?

antoniamichaela's picture

Thank you

Hi LeeLee,

Yes, the Old-Boys Clubs and Networks are so negative, and they exist everywhere, it seems, which is a bit depressing! I sometimes wonder if it just that they do not realize their privilege, and aren't even aware that they ARE doing that Old Boys thing, and maybe if they became aware, they would stop being arrogant and give up some of their power.... Or maybe some such Old Boys are very aware of their privilege and would rather not do anything about it...
Either way, I often wonder how to deal with patriarchy as it manifests in these ways. I am beginning to learn that being overly combative doesn't seem to work. I wonder if the emotional appeal of people's stories can work, whether through facilitated interaction between those with privilege and those without, or through film, writing, etc. But perhaps that is too idealistic. I see your story in the comments above about how the friends of the rastafarian who "died by misadventure" made a DVD in protest, and are campaigning for justice with this. I think using social media in the way you described is surely one good way. But, as you say, what for those who can't access it or other such tools?... it really must be a priority to hear those voices, a lot more than it is currently in the world.

Thanks for writing such a thought-provoking piece, I really enjoyed it. Good luck and I look forward to reading more from you....

Love.

Antonia

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