It’s not so usual for me to get up early on a Sunday morning, in past years the reason for that would be an excruciating hangover that would prevent me from moving or sometimes I wouldn’t have even gone to bed yet. Lately as the mid-twenties have been in full swing – I just need a little lie in, catching some extra Z’s after the working week or getting some in to prepare for the week to come. But alas, my dog-sitting duties of this weekend made me rise and shine at 7am. After a leisurely stroll around the neighbourhood, I grabbed a coffee and croissant and headed back to the ranch, pleased to be up so early and having a full day, I switched on my laptop and perused through Facebook, ritualistically.
Unfortunately there are a lot of harrowing things to be seen, and not enough to be done about it. Lately, I’ve watched so many heart-breaking videos of people suffering in places such as Aleppo, refugees being treated inhumanely and people dying at the hands of needless violence. Recently, I’ve also saw some people posting on Facebook questioning the point of people sharing content about war and politics, asking why the need to bring such sadness to Facebook, resolving that we shouldn’t talk about such negative things on social media, it should be used as a happy, carefree way to pass time. Sure, Facebook is a faucet of entertainment, a place to reminisce on old pictures of friends, snoop on exes and generally shoot the shit but it’s also a lot of peoples main news source, and more than that, it is a place we can see a lot more unbiased news. (The Annual Report for Digital News found that 50% of all web users use social media for news each week, with increasing numbers saying it is their main news source.)
Today I was particularly struck by a video of an interview, on the Irish TV show The Late Late Show , with actor Liam Cunningham talking about the refugee crisis and how little governments, particularly the Irish government, are doing to aid these people. He spoke about the 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children that have ‘disappeared’ since entering Europe. 10,000. Many of these 10,000 have fallen into the hands of organised trafficking syndicates. So yes, this is something that needs to be talked about – a lot.
It is of high importance to discuss and share content on social media regarding the atrocities that are happening around us, it’s not just a place for posting selfies, dog memes or boasting about how far you’ve ran. I’ve also been accused of being a downer or ‘too serious’ by bringing up conversations about these things in social conversation, equally I’ve met many ignorant people, so selfish and wrapped up in themselves, they have no clue what’s going in the world and have no interest in finding out more as ‘it doesn’t affect them.’ This response is the utmost idiotic reply to politics and global events. I don’t believe Brexit, or Donald Trump’s political ascension would have happened was it not for the refugee crisis being misinterpreted (by scare-mongering media and racists), as some golden ticket to come to the E.U or America, instead of what it is: people fleeing their country due to no other alternative only to be faced with a plight of being displaced, without food or jobs then unwelcomed, abused and voiceless. “The war on Syria is the biggest humanitarian and refugee crisis of our time, a continuing cause of suffering for millions which should be garnering a groundswell of support around the world” describes the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. If people are choosing to ignore this because it doesn’t affect them then its time to wake up and smell the global crisis.
With regards to the media and social media coverage of the state of global affairs, I am always reminded of comedian Tommy Tiernan’s stand up where he tells a story about his reaction to September 11th:
“One of the interesting things about September the 11th was watching the tele, that Tuesday afternoon. Before you heard about people that you knew, or nearly knew, or just sad human stories coming out, and it’s always the ordinary Joe soaps getting busted, no matter what kind of conflict it is it’s always the poor fuckers just going to work that get blown up. That afternoon, we’re there watching the television and it’s there and it’s compelling and it’s a television spectacle before it’s a human heart break. Sky news headlines coming across the screen in big black banners screaming ‘the world is fucked, the world is fucked’. I went out to the kitchen to have a cup of tea and looked out the window and everything was grand, there were rabbits and trees and children. So I knew there was a kind of a crisis, and I knew I had to make a decision which world was I going to live in, was I going to spend my life volunteering for sorrow, watching news and getting all the bad stuff or was I going to live in my own wrapped up world, not knowing what was going on in the rest of the world. I decided to do neither, I decided to make a compromise, what I did was, I went in to the sitting room and left the television on but I switched over to the Teletubbies and then I went out into the back garden and I got all the children around me, in a big circle and I said ‘THE WORLD IS FUCKED”, “WHAT ARE YE MESSING FOR?” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvvsua6OboM )
This is somewhat my approach to the situation. Just because you are vocal about these horrible things, and share them and discuss them does not make you depressing. You can appreciate the beauty of life and nature and be happy, yet have a voice on the destruction of life and the injustices prevailing. It is just a matter of being informed, aware and present in the world we live in. Throughout our lives we have learned about the horrible events in WW2 and the holocaust and it is a well-known fact that indifference and silence were major keys in the escalation of the atrocities. I remember learning about it in school and being so horrified that people stood by and allowed this to happen, relieved that we lived in a different time and it would never happen again. How shocked I was then, when it wasn’t until I went to college that I learned about the extent of the Yugoslav wars and all the other wars that don’t get the full scale of attention and aid needed. Once again we have another manmade catastrophe, only this time we have a tool, an instrument to share individual stories rather than bias media and propaganda branding people with technical labels (unaccompanied minor as oppose to child, for example) and statistics forcing us to distance ourselves from their humanity.
I am happy to log onto Facebook and see so many people post content about this because it shows that people are concerned and that we care. Obviously I’d be a lot happier if these things weren’t happening and there was nothing to share about them, but that’s not the situation. So yes we can discuss it over drinks and it doesn’t turn the whole night into a bereavement of humanity, we can share videos about it on Facebook and still watch funny cat videos. I can drink my coffee and eat my croissant and listen to jazz and look out my window from my nice apartment at the beautiful sun shining on the trees and be happy and light-hearted, yet still be angered about things like this, talk about this and share ‘depressing’ videos cause it’s my way of making sense of how really, really lucky I am to be able to do those things and my way of acknowledging and supporting the people who aren’t. Media is censored enough as it, let’s not censor it further for fear of being a ‘Debbie Downer’.
It is easy to feel helpless in the situation – granting refugees asylum is caught up in the red tape of government procedures, or is not on their list of priorities. There are plenty of petitions online you can sign, or if you have some money you can donate but another key part to helping is sharing. Keep the conversations going, keep sharing videos and articles and make everyone see what is happening and empathize. Turning a blind eye, ignoring the problems, accepting bad things happen but there’s nothing we can do about them or just being silent on important issues has been the driving force in the world’s injustices so why leave it happen again. Residing in an impartial ‘the world is fucked’ attitude won’t help anyone. I choose to talk about these things in conversation because I think by discussing it, by having opinions, by sympathising and empathising we are not ignoring it. We are showing some sort of solidarity with our fellow human beings whose human rights are being jeopardized.
Author: Shaunna Lee Lynch
About: I am an Irish writer, performer, avid day dreamer, generally enthusiastic, hip hop enthusiast,living in Hong Kong.