A Narrative Too Complex For Apathy
Ramble | 14th June 2016
#Orlando #SocialMedia #LGBT
Massacre, madness, unity, love, and the ugly side of the news; this week has had it all. When I would usually withhold opinion or be exhausted with apathy; the events of the past few days have made me realise we all have a voice, one we have to use no matter how small, to not succumb to the calculative political agenda of others.
I did two things very different to my usual media routine over the last 48 hours. Firstly, I allowed myself to follow a trail of social commentary on Facebook, scroll through comments and the opinions of those I don't know from Adam (as in Adam and Eve, or Adam and Adam, or Adam and Mohammed; you get my drift.) Secondly, I watched television, and more specifically I watched last night's 10 o'clock news.
My television stopped working at some point last year, rabbit chewing the cable details spared, I never got around to fixing it. I hadn't even considered this odd until I found myself contemplating exactly on which device I would watch a live football match this week. Through on-demand and online streaming services, the need for television stations of old is quickly becoming redundant. But with that has come elements I haven't ever really considered.
Our intake of daily content is now so bespoke and personalised. Where as in the past we may have had a preferred TV station or a daily tabloid or broadsheet of choice – to access these or the media in the main we had to interact with or at least be exposed to, it all. Now I can, and do almost daily, live in a world where the Murdoch Empire doesn't exist. Where I only have to engage with ITV once every two years to become frustrated at how irritatingly poor Lee Dixon and Ian Wright are by comparison to Thierry Henry and Gianluca Vialli. I can shut off those whose opinions or agendas disagree with my own much in the likeness of how years ago I cleansed my Facebook feed of the bigots or unfriend that one twat we all know from GCSE D.T who has a tendency to share if they agree, share if they agree, SHARE. IF. THEY. AGREE. I follow on Twitter only those whose opinion I value and will regularly make the switch from the BBC website to the Guardian and then to Vice if I can't see the wood for the politically correct trees – today’s revelation that the Orlando gunman most likely acted out of some internal conflict between radical Islamic views and being gay himself softened to the BBC's carefully worded declaration that 'he may have visited Pulse on several occasions.' for example.
I found myself watching the news as it came on the live stream of BBC 1 I was watching post football. As each story rolled around I began to despair at not just at the events themselves but the coverage. My engagement of my disengagement with media coverage had begun earlier in the day as the usual suspects on the left of my newsfeed had begun sharing Owen Jones walk out of Sky News' paper review on Sunday night. The (Murdoch owned) outlet seemed hell-bent on the 'radical Muslim terrorises West' agenda rather than calling out the event as a result of atrocious gun control laws, or simply as the horrific LGBT hate crime that it was (it will be interesting to see how they handle the latest 'Gunman was a Gayman' headline – you're welcome The Sun.) By the by, Owen walked out, and bravo to him for doing so. But it was here I read the comments, and began to be filled with fear that for many Sky News may still be seen as a reliable and unbiased source of information. I'm turned off to Murdoch's empire so don't watch or read it. I've unfriended and unfollowed those who share it or seem to agree with it. To me, it's nothing more than spam alongside Rev Trevor in Uganda who needs me to wire him hundreds of pounds via Western Union. But to others, to the masses – is it seen as a true reflection on the world?
Report 3 on what will now be referred to as The Most Depressing News Ever...at 10...was that the (Murdoch owned) Sun would be publicly backing the Leave EU campaign with a full page publication in the morning. Great, so they are not only content with attributing a truly horrific, homophobic hate crime as just another dastardly deed by those pesky Muslims, but now they are hi-jacking the future of this country by forcing us out the EU exit door. But wait, is this not one and the same? Is this just not all part of the right wing political agenda the mainstream media on mass has been beating its drum to?
Liberal values and the equality of the western world is what ISIL are fighting against. That is what we are repeatedly told. Yet it's the right that seems to have the greatest issues with equality. Blame it on Islam. Blame it on immigration. Close our boarders, send them back. Elect Trump. Leave the EU. Then we'll be good. Then we'll be safe. We won't have to play by those EU rules anymore, tax havens can be opened, the rich can get richer and the poor can get poorer. We don't have to deal with the inconvenience that true equality and diplomacy has begun to bring for a minority that is used to ruling the roost.
The Trump/Brexit nightmare could be the reality we wake up to by the end of 2016 – and that is exactly what ISIL want and have been working towards. That is how they want to end liberal values and equality, forcing Muslims to feel isolated and conflicted in the Western World. It could become our reality because we've been unfollowing, unsubscribing and unfriending in a sense of angered apathy rather than bringing a balanced debate for the last few years.
For a long time, I thought this was the best thing to do. Where was the sense in getting into a debate across social media? Equally where is the sense in sharing or posting liberal counter arguments with our perfectly cleansed, political view sharing lists of friends or followers to agree with? Where is the sense in downing design tools for an hour and writing a prolonged piece on it all to post on what is effectively a promotional website for a branding, graphic & web design agency with all of 40 followers? (We're really good by the way, have a look, go on, it's the best thing for you and the country we swear.)
The truth is there may not be a sense to it on its own. It's one tiny voice that is just my own opinion. But I do have one and I am entitled to express it just in the way Murdoch and co are entitled to and to express theirs. The difference in scale, the one large voice choosing to dress propaganda up as fact needn't silence the tiny solitary voices, it should unite them to at least open the debate. Social Media has many great powers. It connects us all and gives our solitary voices a platform we didn't have before. If we limit our viewing and our interactions to just those whose opinions we share we are running the risk of being too switched off to what is actually going on until it is too late.
After all this week, we've seen far too literally just how deadly ignorance can be.
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