How many pictures of dead children do you need to see before you understand that killing children is wrong? I ask because social media is awash with the blood of innocents. Twitter is full of photos of the murdered children of Gaza. Sometimes carried by screaming fathers, sometimes by blood-soaked women. Some bodies are torn to pieces. One no longer has a head.
Such images of war, of obscenity, of the “reality” of what sophisticated weapons do are everywhere. There is no more privacy. At one time the media would have thought carefully about which images could be made public. Lines are drawn and then crossed but all notions about respect for the dead have been ripped apart by the advent of social media.
Perhaps they already were. We saw a dead Gaddafi on the front pages as some sort of “proof”. We see shrouds and horrors all the time and television news warns us in the aftermath of every bomb that we may be disturbed.
But now on Twitter especially there are endless pictures of dead toddlers. These are tweeted and retweeted to convey horror at what is going on in Gaza. This is obscene. Yet the moveable feast of semi-aroused outrage that is Twitter alights on one injustice after another. A while ago my feed was full of butchered elephants bleeding where their tusks had been removed. Before that were lions accompanied by the grinning idiots who had killed them. None of these images persuaded me to think any differently than I already did. This stuff is disgusting. Of course.
Those who want to say something about the atrocities in the Middle Eastmay indeed be genuinely distraught, they may feel that the need to pass on this visual information places them on some unquestionable moral high ground.
They may feel that pictures of the broken bodies of infants trump all talk of the immensely long, complicated nature of this conflict, that it can all be simplified down to this. Maybe that’s true except still each side continues to blame the other. Binyamin Netanyahu speaks of Hamas actively wanting “the telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause”. We gasp in horror. At all of it. Pictures of Israelis watching the destruction of Gaza as if it were a firework party do the rounds. Again with no context. This was Sderot where children don’t play outside but in shelters. Alongside these pictures social media commenters use Hamas and Palestinian as if they meant the same. So eager are they to be on the right side that they tweet a picture of dead children who turn out to be Syrian.
Does this competitive outrage matter? After all, 270 children were killed in Syria last month. But that is not trending.
Seasoned journalists were quite rightly disgusted that the bodies of thosewho died on MH17 were lying naked where it crashed. They were given no dignity. Where is our basic decency? We are told that to understand war we need to see the slaughter of civilians. The awful reality is that all wars look much the same. We need not just to see but to imagine. Those who cannot imagine the suffering of others are those who continue to justify it.
I don’t need to see any more images of dead children to want a ceasefire, a political settlement. I don’t need you to tweet them to show me you care. A small corpse is not a symbol for public consumption. It is for some parent somewhere the loss of a precious person. To make these images common devalues the currency of shared humanity. We do not respect those living in awful conflict by disrespecting their dead. Stop.
Read more here- http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/21/sharing-pictures-corpses-social-media-ceasefire
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