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The I in IT

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Tue, Nov 15. 2011

While we all agree that the technological advancements of the last few years have, in many ways, made communication far easier, and our lives much more efficient and comfortable, we can also agree that the misuse of technology has had some detrimental effect on our small society.{{more}}

Here at home, we have seen how effective the social networks called Facebook and BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) were, when the word needed to be spread that 20-year-old Shanika Small had gone missing and was feared harmed.

Friends and strangers expressed concern, shared prayers and, for a moment, kept each other up to date in the quest to locate the young woman. When the call was made for assistance to search for Small, these media were most successful in mobilizing people to try to locate the Dauphine resident, for whom, until now, there has not been a definitive identification.

As time went on however, rumors, unsubstantiated facts and falsehoods began to be spread by these very media, and may have hurt, more than helped, the investigation into her disappearance.

In fact, police investigators were moved to make an appeal for persons to desist from making posts on Facebook and from broadcasting Messages on Blackberry concerning the case, because of this very concern.

The trend is not one unique to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as only last week, authorities in Barbados and Bermuda made similar appeals, following some high profile crimes in those countries, one of which also included the disappearance and subsequent homicide of a young woman.

Photos and information of crimes and accidents are instantly sent around the world, in some cases causing more pain for the families of the victims, and in some cases, the relatives of persons accused of crimes.

As individuals, we may have information, which we think is important, concerning a matter as serious as the ones we have just described. Is it, however, in the best interest of all concerned to communicate this information to everyone on our contact list or the rest of the world, especially if this information is not verified?

While we have the freedom to express our opinions, we have to be careful in doing so, that we do not give others the impression that what we are communicating is anything other than an opinion, which may or may not have factual basis.

It is one thing to receive word on a particular matter that may be of national, regional, or international interest through the technological advancements at our fingertips, but it may be best for us to wait for confirmation from a trusted source, before we become part of the problem, by one click of the ‘SEND’ button.

We have become so attached to the gadgets that we hold dear, that in some cases we feel that we are unable to function without them.

These technological pieces, along with other social outlets such as blogs and tweets, should, like everything else, be used for good and not just to satisfy our egos or being able to boast of being the first to hear, know, or even be an eyewitness.

We should all ensure that before we send out that next piece of ‘Breaking News’, we are certain that the information we are about to communicate is true and correct, and something the receiver really needs to know.

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