Unfortunately, the latest article that intrigued me was just one of many in a long line of heart-wrenching accounts of attacks in Aleppo. The article describes claims being made in a new position paper by The Atlantic Council, which provides convincing evidence of Russian and Syrian forces violating international law by explicitly targeting civilian centers and using chlorine bombs, though the Russian government has denied these accusations. The article contains security footage of bombs going off in a hospital, as well as other satellite and digital components that back the claims.
Many of the recent articles on the war in Syria focus on incorporating eyewitness media from the civilians themselves, who often plead for help through Facebook and Twitter. Reporters and people affected by the attacks have tried their best to remind us to care, to stand up for human rights and not let these atrocities continue, but despite all the achingly personal coverage it seems that the public consciousness has not been adequately motivated to demand a more significant response from Washington. Though, of course, there are many controversies competing for prominence in the current political landscape, there seem to be other factors that contribute to the lack of real movement in response to attacks in Syria. These factors may be inextricably linked to the shifting platforms from which we receive information.
It seems that we should be more attune to these problems than ever, now that we have footage putting us directly in line with the carnage, and the families who are suffering. Perhaps we are less likely to really pursue the issue because we live in an age of information overload, which we view with a strange combination of skepticism and gullibility. We are continuously swept up into an environment that lacks common ground and stable pillars off of which people base their arguments. In this whirlwind of information, it is harder to cling onto any one thing and take the time required to really internalize a problem and work to make a sustainable change.
Just sharing a video on Facebook does not mean you have done your duty to the Syrian people. Not that you shouldn’t spread the information, but you shouldn’t allow that to be a scapegoat – allowing you to not feel guilty about not taking real action. Likes and votes are not the same thing. While it may feel good to spread the plight of those who need help, you have to care about them for more than the 0.003 seconds it takes to retweet something. For now, there’s still a physical world out there that needs people to partake in real, meaningful action. Force yourself to remember that those are real people behind that screen, and they need a real voice sticking up for them through traditional, substantial avenues such as policy generation and international aid organizations.
Don’t get so swept up in the digital age that you forget to pay tribute to humanity, and to the tangible ways humans need to help each other, outside of the world of one-click-and-never-to-be-thought-of-again.