For the first time since I’ve moved back to St. Lucia, I did what I’ve always been meaning to do — get involved. I’ll be honest, it’s been difficult. I don’t live with parents and I support myself 100%. That means since 2015, many details of adulthood have been totally new and 100% my responsibility. Since moving back here, my partner has lost his grandmother as well as his mother. My home has been tainted by the stress of small business ownership as well as grief. Finally, there has been some sign that life has settled down and I leapt at this opportunity to attend a National Trust meeting.
The SLNT hosted a meeting where the developers of Dolphin Discovery presented their proposal and St. Lucians showed up (I’ve heard there were 222 in the room) to ask questions. I won’t go into detail about the content of the meeting. You can find a live stream online here. What was interesting to me about that meeting was the energy in the room — and the energy West Indian people brought to activism and standing up for a cause that we believe to be important.
In the room, there were many people under 35 and many people who I recognized from Twitter or from my past attending school in St. Lucia. I wasn’t surprised, but I feel like many people were. There is much talk on social media about getting the vague amorphous group “the youth” involved in activism, but this is mostly done in a discouraging way, assuming that young people don’t care. The attendance at that meeting proved that to be false. Young St. Lucians do care.
Furthermore, young Saint Lucians care so much that the livestream of the meeting went viral, reaching thousands of people who quite obviously care. Myself and other St. Lucians also provided live updates on Twitter and Facebook, increasing the accessibility of the content of the meeting to the “youth”.
The point I’m trying to make here is that there is a misconception that young people do not want to be involved. Young people may be confused about productive ways to get involved and this is mistaken for a lack of interest. Young people in this country have seen the ineffective circle jerks of the previous generation and while they are looking to get involved, they have the wisdom not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
This National Trust meeting and the aftermath has opened up a door for greater youth involvement in protecting our environment and homeland. It has also opened the door for a proper discussion on the power of social media and how use of social media can be expanded to get young St. Lucians and West Indians involved in activism even while they are away from home.
Social media is a tool that is misunderstood and underestimated by a generation that has dismissed it rather than giving social media the due attention it deserves as a power to generate interest and inspire action. Without social media, the petition against Dolphin Discovery would not sit at 21,000 signatures. That’s a minimum of 21,000 people who are now educated about the matter and involved with fighting against destruction of coral reefs, pollution and against animal cruelty.
Sounds like involvement to me.
Instead of dismissing young people and projecting their own apathy onto them, older people should start to recognize that a changing social landscape requires adaptation. We need to adapt civic involvement to social media instead of expecting people to move backwards. This is unrealistic and alienating towards young people who do spend a fair amount of time using social media.
The power of social media to generate involvement, consciousness and to educate people who may not have otherwise had access to information about activism is critical. This was one of the most interesting phenomena I observed during the SLNT meeting that inspired me to continue writing and to encourage others to continue writing, posting and sharing their thoughts with others. Young people in this country will not allow themselves to continually dismissed and we are on the verge of ensuring that our voices are not ignored.