THE DISABLING EFFECTS OF THE INTERNET ON OUR TRADITIONAL PRIVATE AND LOW-INCOME EMPLOYMENT
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THE series ‘Mad Men’ in two significant episodes about the unleashing of computer technology in the advertising department in the series, mirrored the similar, mixed emotions and confusion that many of us in the advertising and commercial design field had experienced when computers with Adobe and Corel Draw impacted local commercial art departments. These programmes proceeded with their advance, proving their usefulness, the first jobs of the paste-up layout artists were lost and this similarly occurred in the business of newspaper production and wherever in-house public relations ‘cow-gum hand-design departments existed.’ This was a period that coincided with the James Cameron hit movie ‘Terminator.’ Unlike the humane spin that the sequel of the movie took, Terminator was a horror story. We were experiencing incredible machines that were created by human intellect but terminated human employment comfort zones, a terrifying micro-evolution story. This was a significant part of our commercial history that has gone unrecorded, but it’s not the first. Advertising agencies were a definite casualty of the intruding, colonising technology that became dependable friends, but more so the social media follow up.

The first to be eliminated were the office assistants; many of them were eager to work but had inherited imposed limitations that restricted their capacity to compete for better-paying jobs. Those restrictions resonate from the failure over decades to manage the number of young people taken out of school to supplement missing earning family figureheads. This has inevitably brought us to this extensive partially employed citizenry. How we coped before, well, there were lots of semi-or non-skilled labour employment, (I’ve written about this before, but need to use its reference again) those jobs are gone. The problem is not over, many of our private sector stores sell imported items, or do not sell items that niche producers like myself need in the arts-related practitioners, so we are forced to source through online shopping, because the volume of people in these areas cannot justify large purchases of high-end supplies that will take years to sell. For those who sell clothing and beauty items, the challenge is coming from internet shopping, where cheaper of the same can be found online from purchase to delivery. I must say that in some areas where local service production adventures are happening, that many of us are making a sincere effort to support. The concern is how are they protecting their ‘Intellectual Property Rights’ input?

I can recall a schemed discussion with two young relatives, about the rebound on people their age and younger who will lose their low-paying jobs as the online shoppers grow. Their response was immediate: “we are not the government, we got fuh save de lil money.” They were practical and realistic. It’s not a moral issue that can be filtered on the minimal budgets of citizens, but do administrators understand its implications? Most of the new forms of employment require limited staff who are skilled. No one intends to pay and train at the same time. As a male, my gender is not evenly balanced, except for the joint services, taxi services, mining, and construction. Though the chant is still empowerment of females, in most areas of the private and public sectors the ladies equal and in most areas outnumber males, even in the underpaid security guard services. Young males and many females are and will be in a quandary to assert themselves into the accepted social status. The pressures of modern uncertainty do invoke arcane hunter-gatherer impulses. An individual casting down through retrogressing from the sensible evolution of thousands of years of collective tribal egalitarian principles into the chasm there to be replaced by the selfish response Idolism of ‘The I’ thus, our high domestic, family and sometimes unexplained familiar group murder census. The internet and social media are the new ordinary, with its news, fake news, and marketing capabilities. True to it, when my ‘disappearing buddy’ Roderick Harry created my platform years ago he warned, “It’s easy to go on the Net bro, but is coming off, where yuh got to have the discipline.” Well as the head of a household, the discipline enforced its priorities.

The problem with this shopping-in-Guyana subject is that many citizens still have a memory of quality items, from the simple basin to the sturdy plastic container, loyal to the fact, people don’t have lots of money, but they have memories and will reach for the sturdy-memory item on the “net” that on arrival will cost less than the mark-up in the Water or Regent Street store. My worry is the livelihoods of staff that they employ, from porters to sales staff, vendors and security. But as my taxi buddy at Bourda Market reminded me, “ Dem banna don’t pay no living wage, and yuh can’t get dem fuh sponsor not even lil water fuh a Domino match, suh?”

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