The Media and Public’s Imbalanced Perception
I came across an NPR article this past weekend about grief and how it impacts people all over the world. The journalist explains how grief and mourning hits individuals but can be a shared feeling among people, especially when tragic and horrible events like the Paris attacks this past Friday happen.
Yet she brings up an important point: such terrible events happen all over the world all the time, and yet we don’t pay them that much attention – both the media and the public. Except, don’t all lives matter?
Another article in the Washington Post asks Is posting support on Facebook narcissistic, or heartfelt? It can actually be both -depending on the individual. The journalist also goes into the question of why is there such global support for Paris when this also happens (even during the same week and day before the Paris attacks) all around the world?
Is it that Westerns who have a larger media group and voice will relate more to beautiful Paris than they will with those who die almost daily in attacks against civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Niger, and the DRC, to name just a few? Is it that most people have visited Paris, but will likely never see those other far away places? (Isn’t every place far away though?)
Who is to say which group of people is more important and deserves global attention more so than others? Why isn’t there a #prayforBeirut or #prayforBaghdad hashtag? Why haven’t people changed their social media images to the colors of the Yemen flag to support those who are being killed there?
Those are the questions that popped into my head (and apparently some journalists as well) after the Paris attacks unfolded. (My first thought was to make sure my dad’s brother and my mom’s niece and her family were ok – they are.)
While what happened in Paris on Friday was horrifying and deeply saddening, imagine this happening on an almost daily/monthly/yearly basis for years on end.
Take a moment and imagine it. Because that is exactly what people in countries that so many think of as “far away” are having to deal with: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestinians, Nigeria, Niger, DRC, and on and on and on and on. This is their norm.
I’ll leave you with this quote from the first article by Michel Martin:
Paris calls out to us because many of us have been there or wish to go. For many of us, it is the city of our dreams. But there is terrible violence being perpetrated all over the world, in places many of us will never visit, by some of the same people and the same ideology that led to the massacres in Paris.
But their lives matter. They matter because when we draw the line between those near and far, and those who look like us and those who don’t, those whose names we can easily pronounce and those which we cannot, we participate in the same kind of dehumanizing that allows people to do such awful things to each other in the first place.
Getting back to my neighbor, I’m not sharing her name. But later, I’m going to drop off a card, and some food, and my best wishes for her family. And when I do, I will try to remember another name: the name of the man who is credited with saving unknown numbers of lives in Beirut last week by tackling a suicide bomber. His is Adel Termos. I will try to remember it.