The images shock me. Even if a person is completely clueless about what is happening in Syria and how the world is stirring in reaction to recent events, the images of people writhing in pain, of people bloodied and motionless, of people who are now corpses, is made real, viral, and accessible to anyone, all thanks to the smart phone.
The news will tell you that Syria has been undergoing a civil war for two years. The Assad regime was in power; then, the Rebels began an uprising leading the internal conflict that is destroying an ancient and beautiful land to rubble.
Unlike the Marvel conception of good guys verses bad guys, this war is painted in monotone, gray slathered on top of another shade of gray.
Both sides are killing and blatantly mutilating bodies, and, so far, Western civilization has tried to stay out of it.
Now, America is pulling out missiles and pointing them at Assad, crossing fingers that Damascus isn’t the 21st century powder keg of the modern era.
What the news cannot tell you, social media shows you. Breaking down the filter placed by corporate news or a politician’s rant, social media, whether Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter, shatters the shield to show us the inexpressible rage and despair of the Syrian people.
Social media gives us a front row seat to the mayhem and to the faces of the individuals that are living in the chaos, and I am afraid to watch.
Not typically one to shy away from reality, I am afraid to get full exposure of the visuals of the Syrian conflict. I have been purposefully avoiding the links on news articles and have refused to put “Syrian rebels” in my YouTube search box.
Despite my better judgment, I browsed the images to find a sickening number of real footage capturing the lines of people being shot and scattered piles of dead bodies.
My fear prevented me from sifting through many of the videos because I knew the atrocities that I would find. Soldiers cutting open dead bodies, pulling organs out, taunting their enemy, and people systematically gunned down are images that can easily be downloaded and viewed.
The Syrian military and Rebels are creatively using social media as a public and visible aggravator to stimulate the hate that fuels this conflict. YouTube has become a weapon to shame and humiliate an enemy, broadcasting mutilations and carnage like it was concert footage.
In one particular video, people hover over a motionless young man on an operating table. The camera is shaky, the image is poor, and amidst the confusion and movement, his death is recorded and uploaded for the world to watch.
I do not want to watch. Generally, I am interested in knowing what is going on in the world. I firmly believe that having global awareness is an important value to possess, but the Syrian conflict and the tangibility of their bloodshed offends me.
I believe that it is a good thing that America knows about the turmoil, but social media presence of militant Syria is flagrant. The unrepentant crimes spurn insurmountable human suffering, and the flaunting is too much for me to watch as I scroll down my feed.
Regardless of how I feel about the truth of the Syrian predicament, the truth is out there. People are fighting, killing, and destroying a nation. Nations have done this all throughout history. It is not a new phenomenon.
However, the suffering of a people can buffer right onto your iPhone, exposing us to the bitter taste of Syrian rage and desperation as fast as your WiFi connection will allow. No matter how far we sit from Damascus, the Syrian conflict is just as close to us as your phone is.
– Mallory Hudson, Opinions Editor