Respecting each other


EASTER was just a few weeks ago and we should have taken the time to reflect on our Lord Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made to ensure our salvation.
That sacrifice also included his teachings of respect for your fellow man.  This includes respecting one’s privacy and ensuring that we endeavour every day to make this world much better during our lifetime.
That is perhaps one of the challenges which we confront as a society – the ability to function without being in the business of other people. Many of us  will have to admit that we get lots of fun in looking and judging the lives of others. It is perhaps why salacious news is so appealing and creates such a buzz; but like the effects of alcohol, it wears off.
The allure is sitting back and acting ‘holier than thou’ at the misfortunes or misbehaviour of others. It is why many would go to certain media sources and social network sites and laugh at stories which portray others in certain unfortunate circumstances.   
On the ‘Naked Departure’ website, Barbadians of all walks of life are portrayed in a negative light. Husbands, mothers, children, business owners, managers name it, have all had their reputations shattered by the postings on this site. Many often believe these one-sided stories and leave with an impression which negatively impacts the ability of the mentioned persons to operate within Barbados.
The danger is that by believing this information, it paints a terrible picture of us as Barbadians, who boast of an almost 100 per cent literacy rate.  
The first thing that you are taught in primary and secondary schools is critical thinking and looking at information sources. When doing projects, teachers often ask students to list sources which can be judged as to whether they are reputable. However,  in the circumstance of these social media sites, the information presented is never questioned.
So why the need to hide?  In the aforementioned site, many posts are from anonymous sources which often fake names. If your information is true and beyond question, then the providers of the info should be up-front and able to stand up to scrutiny.  However, in many instances, it is allegedly filled with malicious intent which should be a red flag to those who may enjoy reading such information.
So where does the issue of privacy kick in? We have become a society which needs to know everything.  And just not about the work of public officials and the execution of their duties on our behalf, but about the personal lives of our friends, neighbours or even popular people in our society. It is that deep desire to judge others which makes the fact we tolerate sites like this one, until the information is about a family member or friend.
So last year, a colleague of mine took to his Facebook page to blast the site. He later explained that another colleague was put on the site, after it was reported that someone with his name was killed in St. Lucy.  The site posted a photo of the wrong man and I personally received messages from others in the media asking if it was true.   
What is the recourse for something like that?  Hiding behind shadowy IP  addresses does little to excuse the operators of this site and others like it from the damage which they cause in the pursuit of their daily activities.  It is something which must be addressed seriously with the full weight of the law.  Perhaps an agreement with other countries when the operators are tracked down to bring them to legal action will stop this behaviour.
Freedom of speech comes with responsibility.  When you know something is not true and you repeat it, the real question is about your character and the rush to believe so quickly.   
Respect should not be so difficult to achieve, but it has to start somewhere.

Barbados Advocate

Mailing Address:
Advocate Publishers (2000) Inc
Fontabelle, St. Michael, Barbados

Phone: (246) 467-2000
Fax: (246) 434-2020 / (246) 434-1000