Political Promise

Riots Debate: Vicky Wong

In Vicky Wong on August 19, 2011 at 6:19 am

In the latest of the pieces on the riots, East London-dwelling Vicky Wong provides her take on the events of the past week.

The cause of the London riots have been blamed on a plethora of things from the police shooting of Mark Duggan, the disaffection of the youth bearing the brunt of youth unemployment and lost opportunities, rascism and bad parenting. But the one that baffles and angers me the most is the argument that new technologies and social media are the ones responsible for the unrest.

I live in East London, and although there were some minor spates of violence, my local area thankfully remained unscathed.

My sister was commenting on the riots and like myself, was incredibly angry at the events, and she went as far as suggesting that Blackberries and Twitter should be banned outright. Quite an outlandish thing to say and I was quite angry with her recommendation. Even the local MP for Ealing blamed the unrest on Twitter.

But what has also annoyed me just as much was the BBC News report involving an angry parent being interviewed on BBC News blamed the lack of local services engaged in an argument n camera with a man blaming bad parenting. It is turning into a perpetual blame game of no one willing to accept the blame for what ensued the past few days.

Calling a ban on Twitter and Blackberries is not going to solve the problem of the riots. I don’t own a blackberry and never quite caught onto the phenomena that we call BBM, but I do own a Nokia smartphone which enables me to use twitter, of which I am quite an avid user of.

Although I am sure people can survive without Blackberries and Twitter, I think we are all forgetting the ne crucial thing, and it is that in order for these inert technologies to be of any use to anyone, it needs people to power them in the first place.

It is people who send out tweets and blackberry messages. Whether those at the receiving end react to or ignore these requests is their decision. In short, technology is one of the tools that people use to riot, it is not the reason to riot.

The sign of local residents in Clapham raising their brooms in a jubilant sign of local pride prove that Twitter can be used as a force for good. But it is also further testimony to the good side of human nature. What these riots proved is that we as humans refuse to accept responsibility for our flaws (yes myself included, I should’ve joined the clean-up operations taking place around London, thus my flaw would be laziness), and we completely underestimate the power of what human nature is capable of doing. It is easy to blame an inert and inanimate technological object or product, but it is a lot more difficult to blame people.

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