About a week ago, a photograph went viral on the Internet. It was a photograph of the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi, a three year old Syrian boy of Kurdish descent, washed up on a beach in Turkey. The internet eventually went berserk with outrage and millions “woke up” to the harsh truths of the Syrian crisis.
Syria has been in turmoil for more than four years now, with around 3 lakh deaths according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The dead include thousands of children who fell victim to chemical attacks, bombings and gun violence. All of this was widely reported all over the world, and certainly a lot of us are not very ignorant of the on-going situation in Syria and Iraq.
Except when a social media trend pops up a sensationalised photograph of a dead child (a photograph his family members have repeatedly asked not to circulate), it somehow becomes a medium for us observers to be collectively sad about, and be completely self-satisfied with the sadness. Why did the world wake up to the refugee crisis now, when children drown in seas in an attempt to reach places where they at least have a shot at life? How different is it from the children who are murdered in the street while the world doesn’t bat an eyelid – where are their slogans, where are their hashtags? Where is the bitter misanthropy and long social media commentary? Why did we only just wake up to European countries and Gulf States denying entry to refugees?
The photo is nothing but an object which sends a message that goes through a filtered and sterile lens and ultimately decontextualizes the situation at hand and reduces it to the ‘death of humanity’. We need to stop ignoring the situation in Syria just because they aren’t as sensationalised. We collectively need to stop caring about issues just because they have a weight on social media and internet today. We need to stop waiting for heart-wrenching photographs of dead children to incite basic empathy.
Image Credits: theguardian.com
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