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Effects of Social Media, the Orlando Shootings and Self Expression

The effects of social media are far-reaching and perhaps under-estimated by many.  With the tragedy that struck eight hundred and seventy five miles away from Belize, in Orlando, Florida, the distance became moot as emotions poured out onto social media ranging from outrage to sadness to anger and in one instance to hatred.  There were many who sympathized with the families of the fifty of the club patrons who died and the other fifty plus who were injured.  Members of the LGBT community in Belize seemed to have been hardest hit by such an occurrence as it was a reminder to them as to how challenging it is to be fighting for the acceptance of their lifestyle choices.  Social media has been viewed by thousands as a platform to debate, discuss and express ideas or opposing views …. But there seems to be a line that one should not cross and in case you were not aware, it became very clear over the weekend as one Belizean man was frowned upon, condemned and figuratively crucified for posting the following: quote, “I know people will hate me for this but the killing of over fifty last night in Florida is justified.  Gay rights?  What happened to the rights of straight people?; the right that gives me the opportunity to live and raise my children in a moral society.  They want equality but equality is the way it was before; you want to be gay?  Keep it to yourself.”  End of quote.  That expressed sentiment fuelled anger by many, forcing him to apologize and attempt at doing some damage control but that proved futile.  His comment was shared by dozens of persons and it seems even his employer had disagreed with the entire issue and he was reportedly fired.  As one young Belizean man noted on his Facebook page, quote, “We live in a day and age where pornography, crime, bullying and hate are spewed continuously over Social Media, but does this mean that Social Media is the root cause? Absolutely NOT! People who chose to do ill utilize whatever mediums are at their disposal to express themselves. That is the problem.”  End of quote.  One other comment on social media that got the attention of many was by a young Belizean pharmacist who wrote, quote, “Somebody in Belize should do the same to all those gay parties and all the gay men’s houses.”  End of quote.  Special Envoy for Women and Children, Kim Simplis-Barrow issued a statement on social media this morning, saying, Yesterday was not a good day. Yesterday was not a good day for humanity. I cannot even begin to imagine what the families, friends and the LGBT community are feeling of this horrific attack on so many innocent lives. So many mixed emotions but I’ll say this – Please don’t let this world turn you into bitter people. Please don’t let these things make you unkind. It is never ok to do others wrong because they did you wrong. The answer to hate ISN’T hate. It’s LOVE! Today I chose love. Today I chose to continue to advocate for equality for ALL. Today I chose to continue advocating for human rights; you can too; my condolences to the families and friends and all those who suffer discrimination. “End of quote.