Tuesday, 9 August 2011

R.I.M. = Riots In Motion

It's odd the way that a chain of events can unfold. And by that, I am not referring to the chain of events which led up to the recent London riots. Rather I am talking about the way in which those events resulted in me getting a fast-track intro to Twitter. Amazing how quickly you can pick a new technology when you're under pressure (well maybe Twitter is not exactly new - it's more that I'm getting old). I have always been stumped by Twitter for the simple reason that I do not understand it. I am one of those people who has to understand the way stuff works before I can use it. Don't know why, it's just the way I am. But the news that my adopted hometown was in flames, was just the push I needed to get past that barrier and start using the medium, understanding or no understanding.

The riots in London have been under-reported by the news media because it has been dangerous for traditional TV crews to get out on location, what with streets being made impassible by looters and debris. As a result, the largest mass of communication has been coming via Twitter. Even Facebook has its limitations being, as it is, used by house-bound people who are keeping the violence at an arm's length. Anybody who was caught up in the action shared their tales via tweets.

As a picture of the riots has taken shape a tweet at a time, my online responses have traced my evolving attitude about the riots:
Amused Disbelief: Miss E hopes her London friends get a good night's sleep, tonight. But if not, they should consider looting some sedatives from a nearby chemist...
Outraged Sadness: Closed community centres; ill-equipped libraries; violent classrooms. Considering how unappealing the means of free, legal entertainment are for London youths, is it any wonder when kids turn to illegal ones?
Cool Analysis: As Londoners begin to clean up their streets, their government should begin cleaning up its act. No more social spending cuts.

Anyway, here is my take on the riots as of day three.

Too many people have focused on ranting about the criminality and violence of the looters involved in the London riots of August 6-9. I don't see the point. Yes, bringing looters and assailants to justice is a large part of the recovery process and it helps heal the wounds of the people who have been victimized by looters. But hearing David Cameron and Boris Johnson ranting on about how thuggish their constituents are is neither reassuring nor helpful. Being a political figure isn't about venting one's spleen guys, it's about leadership. I am far more interested in hearing what plans our alleged 'leaders' have up their sleeves for making sure that their incompetence does not trigger more riots of this scale, than I am in hearing them fling insults. And hands up who thinks that their 'strategy' for dealing with this disorder will involve making further cutbacks...

Personally, I think that the best move Cameron or Johnson could make would be to resign. That, and start giving the people of London some of the social services that their taxes allegedly pay for: community centers, unemployment benefits, counselling services... basically everything that is either missing now, or about to be taken away.

Some people have mentioned that the 'generation' which is looting is the same generation which grew up under the Labour Party. That may be the case but it's pretty telling that they only took to the streets once the Tories got into office and started slashing away at the UK's social life support. Plus, it's not only 'yoof' who are looting. Watch some of the Youtube videos... it's everybody. The reason is that everybody now has a reason to feel left behind, overlooked and cheated, thanks to the cutbacks.

Realizing that the government officials who are elected to administer to your country's needs are deaf to your complaints, defiant of your concerns and detached from your reality, is enough to slice away the final threads binding one to a social contract... or for some it is, anyway. Stealing is a senseless way to vent steam but then so is blaming the poor, the young and the undereducated for their frustration. All of them have been scapegoated, first for the country's economic troubles, and now for these riots. The reactionaries of the world need to wake up and realize that it's a mistake to blame only the people whom they see kicking off at street level. It is this limited view of the world which leads to people blaming their neighbours, instead of seeing the real culprit...

...and he's right in front of them, making a televised speech.

Images courtesy of Statements in Pictures and 'Roqayah' @ Twitter

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