All Insider Posts
November 19, 2015
By Rafia Ali, Hinsdale Central
Last Friday, Paris was devastated with a terrorism attack, which claimed 129 innocent lives. Immediately, Facebook lit up with French flag profile pictures and #prayforparis trended worldwide, while another terrorist attack in Beirut was forgotten, which brought up an interesting question: why did the media fail to acknowledge another tragic event in the world?
First off, I would like to make a clear distinction between the media and social media. Today, most of us get our news by opening up Facebook or Twitter, and this isn’t a bad thing at all. If anything, it makes people more aware of what is happening in the world, but because on social media, we can choose who we follow and, essentially, what news we see, we receive a filtered version of current events. Media outlets, on the other hand, report on the news. Naturally, the articles that people care the most about will be shared and retweeted the most, but, if you follow a valid media outlet, it should report all news.
So the problem of us not receiving news about other events isn’t about the media being biased, or certain regions not getting importance, but rather about the people we chose to receive our news from. And by people, I mean Facebook friends and people followed on Twitters. Personally, I follow many liberal, Muslim and social justice Twitter accounts, so my Twitter feed was filled with perspectives about the backlash faced by Muslims, the Beirut attack, and the effect of the Paris attack on refugees. Now, other people who may follow accounts like Donald Trump or Rupert Murdoch, may have a feed filled with demands to close mosques in America and stop Muslim refugees from entering America. Social media is meant to filter events so you only see what you like.
The beauty of social media is that anyone can put anything out there and if enough people retweet it, it somehow becomes valid. So that’s why we have to go back to the source. Social media is an incredible tool for putting underrepresented opinions out there and spreading awareness about events, but first we have to get the facts, even if that requires us to do research and find a multiple media outlets.
So why did Paris get world wide solidarity, primarily on social media, yet Baghdad and Beirut were forgotten? First off, a pet peeve of mine is that you can’t force a person to mourn an event. If they chose to stand only with Paris, it’s their choice but forcing them to acknowledge other events is just crass and insensitive. But why do people mourn Paris on such a large scale but not other perpetual terrorist attacks? I’m going to be frank and it’s not going to be pretty, but here I go.
These “ignored” terrorist attacks are always covered by the news. Even CNN covered Beirut. But fault isn’t in the media but the readers. Readers have begun expecting constant violence in the Middle East and Africa to the point where they have simply stopped caring. Vaguely Arabic sounding name? Ignore in favor of Kim K’s pregnancy style. And it’s frustrating to see major tragedies in other countries go overlooked because they are in eastern countries. But, while it’s easy to point fingers at media sources, the real culprits are ourselves and how we approach the news. It’s all out there for us to discover, but we simply care more about what directly affects the Western world and wealthy countries.
As humans and global citizens, it is the responsibility of each person to get all the news and look at it objectively, because it allows us to empathize and make a difference in this democratic world we live in. If we continue to view the world with blinders on, we would be ignoring major tragedies and global issues. And that would be the real downfall of humanity.
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