Family turns to cultural solutions for modern-day social media problem

Denise Titian, September 17, 2019

A public apology was recently made in front of an audience at Ahousaht’s Annual General Meeting after a young person took to the keyboard, reportedly making a hurtful post in the heat of rage. (Denise Titian photo)

Ahousaht, BC — 

Social media, it is a form of electronic communication that allows people worldwide to interact, share photos, videos, thoughts and ideas. Facebook is a social media application has been around since Februrary 2004 and has blossomed into a multimedia communications application with more than 2 billion users.

It is good for communicating with friends and family and also for reaching out to the masses if that is your wish. But the very thing that makes it so attractive, the instant nature of sending messages and posts, can also cause pain and embarrassment when used in anger.

This is what happened in Ahousaht when a young person took to the keyboard, reportedly making a hurtful post in the heat of rage. The post involved other youths from the community and resulted in pain and embarrassment for some family members.

Rather than hope that things would just settle with time, the family of the young person that made the post took a proactive approach. They called together aunts and uncles and sat with the young person to get to the bottom of the issue and come up with a solution.

The result was a public apology that was done in front of an audience at Ahousaht’s Annual General Meeting.

In a cultural correction of the social media incident, the family stood together with the young person and called upon the people that were named in the post. The ones that were present stood across the floor with their families, facing the other family.

The young person was given a microphone and a tearful and heartfelt apology, stating what was done came from anger.

“I know it was wrong and I deeply regret it,” said the person.

An aunt of the young person took the microphone next and addressed the families that were affected.

“We had a family meeting about this and I talked about how lateral violence is so deadly for our people,” she said.

Other members of the family pointed out that many of the young people involved are related and they don’t want animosity in the family.

The apology was accepted as the young person gave blankets and shook hands with those that were affected by the post – and peace was restored.

The aunt urged people to find someone to speak with rather than talking behind backs and resorting to lateral violence.

“We have teachings; we are family - let’s keep those ties and lift each other up rather than cut each other down,” she urged.

Greg Louie, Ahousaht’s elected chief, praised the families for addressing the issue. He said with all the talk of reconciliation it is good to see it in action at home. 

“This was a good example of families mutually agreeing to reconcile on their own, in our Ahousaht way,” he said.

Craig Blewett, an expert on education and technology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa offers this advice for social media users: If you are at all concerned that your post could get you in trouble, wait before you post – overnight if you can. Ask a trusted person for their opinion.

Blewett advises people to use the THINK principle before posting:

T – is it True?

H – is it Hurtful?

I – is it Illegal?

N – is it Necessary?

K – is it Kind?