Over the past 72 hours we’ve all been glued to the news coverage of the London and Croydon riots – we’ve seen the youths, some as young as 12 apparently, mindlessly destroying businesses and properties, killing innocent people and lustily looting items from vandalised stores.
As always, the finger of blame has to be pointed somewhere. Originally it was the fault of the Police for the shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham last week, then the Government for cutting funding to local services and finally the fault was deemed to be with social networking sites after riots were allegedly organised using BlackBerry Messenger, Twitter and Facebook. It has been claimed that social media incited the increased violence because rioters were able to use the services to make contact with large numbers of ‘like minded’ people quickly and easily.
But hold your horses a minute – social media platforms are merely a tool for communication! Is it Twitter’s fault that a criminal minority used their 140 characters to post a message inviting others to join them in their ‘mission’? Is it Apple’s fault if they used an iPhone to access Twitter? Is it O2’s fault for providing a 3G network to give them access to the internet? How about the bank? They provided the cash that allowed the rioters to top up their phone or pay their telephone contract each month after all!
We can just blame everyone can’t we? Everyone that is, except the people who sent or responded to the messages. The people who made the decision to go on a rampage of destruction. The people who climbed through the smashed windows of PC World and Wimpy and walked out with a Plasma TV or a freshly cooked burger!
Let’s get real!
It isn’t the Government’s fault. We’re not America having our credit rating reduced – yes we’ve lost services and seen taxes rise but the UK is still economically surviving. There are still jobs for those who look for them and there are businesses working hard to be successful. The emergency services aren’t at fault either – they’re doing a remarkable job in very difficult circumstances – often working in life or death situations for very little reward. The blame lies entirely with the people who made that decision to follow the crowd without thinking or caring about the repercussions – driven only by the benefit of a nice new telly in their bedroom for nowt!
Social media is not the root of these problems – last night it was an extremely valuable resource for the public to learn up to the minute information. From the news agencies publishing facts about the unfolding events, to the public uniting together in distress at what is happening to our beloved country. Today Facebook has seen the rise of pages declaring support for all the brave and committed personnel who are facing danger to protect us. Twitter has recruited thousands into @riotcleanup – a national army of volunteers dedicated to helping the small businesses affected by this atrocity to get cleared up and operating again as soon as possible. Several social media platforms are being utilised to circulate the CCTV images of the offenders, in the hope that users can help bring them to justice. Let’s stop blaming social media for the rise in criminality and see the advantages of this vast and mostly law-abiding community concerned about our future.
A bad workman blames his tools – the rest of us will be watching the news feeds and supporting each other on social media!
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