A Beaconite encourages readers — especially those who can vote — to remain diligent consumers of the news in the coming months. Election talk is in the air, and potential candidates have already been jostling and shadow-campaigning for months. There is no more important time to exercise critical thinking skills and question people’s motivations. Whoever forms the next government will set the pace and tone of the territory’s long-term recovery, whether that’s patchy and petty or robust and transparent. And remember: Lawmakers are always a direct reflection of the people who vote for them. The Beaconite encourages readers to support candidates based on merits, ideas and track record. Support who you think has long-term vision, capability and empathy. Avoid people who demonstrate aggressive politicking and vindictiveness. Don’t vote based purely on familial connections. And lastly, if you cast a ballot purely because a lawmaker issued you a bush-cutting contract or used public money to pave your driveway, know that you are as big a part of the problem as the politician who bought your vote.
Facebook users beware: A Beaconite suspects fraudsters have been targeting the territory. He recently noticed a post on a local Facebook forum asking anyone interested in earning quick cash to send a personal message. Smelling a scam, the Beaconite did so, leading to a long string of exchanges in which a user claiming to be a woman in Chicago urged him to wire $300 to a man in Jamaica. If he did, she said, he would receive $2,000 within an hour. Needless to say, the sceptical Beaconite did not send money. Instead, he sent her a link to an article warning about a suspiciously similar “cash flipping” scam in the Cayman Islands. She then accused him of lacking seriousness and blocked him on Facebook. The Beaconite e-mailed the Virgin Islands police to ask if they are investigating any such frauds, but he has not heard back.
A Beaconite believes that one of the least positive interactions is having someone tell her to write a positive news story. This week — not for the first time — she was told that, above all else, positivity in journalism is key. And she reflected later — not for the first time — that she can think of many other more important goals when writing about the news than maintaining artificial positivity. Like keeping elected officials accountable to the people who elected them, for instance. Every time a Beaconite is told not to write “negative” articles, it feels like a little slap on the wrist for choosing to pursue a career path that probably won’t win as many popularity points as, say, public relations. Or government communications. She welcomes anyone to chime in about the “tone” or “angle” of her stories. She’ll continue to report as accurately as she possibly can.
Every newcomer to the Virgin Islands reacts differently. Some instantly fall in love with the territory and make plans to stay forever; others experience culture shock to which they are never quite able to adjust. Most people fall somewhere in between. It’s generally to impossible to predict, before someone gets here, which category they will fall into. Recently, a Beaconite was asked to give advice to a potential future Beaconite from abroad about what it’s like to live and work in the VI. Although to cover herself she stressed that “everybody is different,” there are few things she could say for certain: Roads are challenging (read: terrifying); the population is wonderfully diverse, hailing from all corners of the globe; so-called “island fever” is real; and when she leaves, she is always happy to come back, which (since she hasn’t felt that way about every place she’s lived) is perhaps the most important designation of all.