Hashtag Diplomacy In The Apathetic West


Our selective interest in tragedies abroad is a tragedy in it’s own right. Jessica Issa explains.

On January 7, what happened in Paris was devastating.

On January 7, Boko Haram’s five-day-long massacre came to an end, killing more than 2,000 people in Nigeria.

On January 7, a car bomb attack killed 37 people and left 66 injured in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.

On January 7, Taliban suicide bombers, gunmen and two bombs claimed the lives of nine people in Afghanistan.

Mainstream media barely reported on the Nigeria massacre, and no Australian mainstream media I came across even mentioned the Yemen and Afghanistan attacks.

Even during our own Sydney Siege, it was unknown to most Australians and the majority of the West that rebels attacked a military base in Somalia, killing 10 soldiers and burning two military vehicles.

At times, the Western world can have a funny way of showing support when tragedy strikes… it’s selective.

Many people love to jump on the ‘selective support bandwagon’, but the big stories covered by mainstream media are already reaching enough audience members. What about the little stories? Which in reality aren’t little at all.
Three million Syrian refugees isn’t little.

Fifteen countries which still allow people to be stoned to death isn’t little.

Nearly 10,000 people killed since 2000 in the continuous Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn’t little.

Several celebrities carried “Je Suis Charlie” badges at the Golden Globes. Where were all the “Stop Boko Haram” badges? Or the “Support Syrian Refugees” badges? Or the “End Barbaric Capital Punishment” badges?

Mass murdering innocents is never little. War is never little.

So why don’t we always hear about it? And why don’t we always care to hear about it?

Mainstream media tells us what the most important stories are. We believe them, and we then come up with a supportive social media hashtag – #bringbackourgirls #illridewithyou #jesuischarlie.

We love the hashtag, parade the hashtag and retweet the hashtag. But what about the tragedies no one creates a hashtag for?

Paris is a famous city where terrorism of this nature rarely occurs. Is the West sick of hearing about another attack in Africa? Another bomb in Beirut? Another protest in Pakistan? It’s not exciting enough, is it?

The majority don’t care as much to talk about the ongoing issues in third world countries. Why?

Because they’ve been going on for so long. It’s not as interesting to discuss battles that don’t have a foreseeable victory.

If there’s anything these recent attacks in third world countries can teach us, it’s that turning a blind eye to them will not make them disappear.

Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. We have the power to remain informed. Not knowing is not good enough.

Jessica Issa is a double-degree graduate of Charles Sturt University, Bathurst with a degree in journalism and in public relations. Jessica lives in Sydney and is passionate about human rights, world news and the wonders of human interaction. Follow @jessicaissa1