Can Cuba’s Young People Be Counted On?

Kabir Vega Castellanos

HAVANA TIMES — The lack of seriousness, the scarce worry and especially the level of superficiality that young people in Cuba have is quite sad.

It’s been a year now since I was just one more user on the great SNET network, a series of local networks, which has been created and structured by Cubans, without a helping hand from institutions, via hundreds of cables and dozens of Nanostations.

This project was developed out of the Cuban people’s basic need to be able to have the Internet, even on a smaller scale. Even without being able to access Facebook, Twitter or other global social websites, I’ve been able to watch attitudes and behavior, particularly that of my generation, on this small imitation of the Internet.

Surfing Wifinet, Sumate and I Likeit as well as other forums that exist on this network, looking to meet people, to exchange ideas or to have a debate, I’ve tried to iniatiate creative discussions about various subjects on more than one occasion. These have included from sharing my own literary pieces with other users, beginning surveys dealing with universal subjects such as love, to even provoking conversations that move away from being light and going beyond humor to the heart of the matter.

However, the reactions of almost all of the young people that I’ve interacted with have been disheartening.

Literature sections or other intellectual or scientific branches included in the forums have very little activity, and most of those who comment are the same users over and over again.

PAC, Protection for the City’s Animals, is an alternative organization that tries to help to improve the quality of life for these beings, and is featured from time to time by one of its volunteers, who writes and publishes texts on Wifinet. In these texts, she promotes the animals that are in need of being adopted, emphasizing the importance of helping them and even criticizing the Cuban people’s selfishness and lack of sensitivity with regard to these creatures that live out on the street, exposed to all kinds of suffering and danger. However, she doesn’t manage to capture the attention of a lot of people.

In subjects relating to Otaku culture, fans of Anime, Manga or almost anything that comes from Japan, the most creative posts that are posted are mainly ignored. The debates people prefer to engage in are simple-minded and sometimes borderline stupidity.

Where you really find regular activity is on humor sites. The tiburoneo, the pirañeo and trolling create the most comments.

These expressions, the first one used for men and the second one for women, refers to an attitude of seducing or teasing (savor by looking) other people who upload their photos on this network. The third term “trolling” is the art of throwing garbage at what others say. It’s making fun, discrediting someone without backing up your argument.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t only exist in the digital realm. In school environments, in private courses and social meetings, young people behave as if they were living in a first world country. And if somebody mentions something about our country’s many problems, the rest react as if it were a subject in bad taste and worse still: as if none of this concerns them.