North Texas Daily

Anti-social network

Anti-social network

April 16
21:16 2013

On Monday, I chose not to post anything on Facebook, but simply watch instead. Like many other college students following the terrible events unfolding in Boston, social media enveloped me all day. When a tragedy happens so close to home, we’re forced to tune in and acknowledge something real.

In the midst of all the prayers and supportive pictures filling my Facebook feed, something peculiar stuck out. It was a picture listing recent violent deaths in the Middle East. At the bottom, it remarked that we saw these deaths as “less important” than what happened in Boston.

The fact that someone made this within hours of a tragedy and then reposted it thinking it would somehow help is inappropriate and offensive to those affected by the Boston bombing. Monday, of all days, was not the day to make this point. Monday was not the day to decry what people are doing wrong—it was a time of reflection, a time to come together and help.

As President Obama put it, “On days like this there are no Republicans or Democrats—we are Americans, united in concern for our fellow citizens.”

There are issues within the media that should be recognized. Entire books discuss why some major events don’t get investigative coverage on TV and others do. But the person on my Facebook feed who posted this specifically said that deaths in Iraq aren’t covered—and this could not be further from the truth.

Yesterday’s edition of The Dallas Morning News ran the headline “55 killed in series of car bombs in Iraq” on a page directly opposite to the story on the Boston bombings.

During the extensive Boston coverage on Monday, The New York Times retweeted journalist Shreeya Sinha: “Also thinking of Iraq today: At least 37 people killed and more than 140 wounded in nearly 20 separate attacks.”

Even when our news seems saturated by coverage of something at home, it doesn’t mean they aren’t reporting on other issues. And there’s a reason for this saturation: Events like these don’t happen often inside our borders.

When two people are killed and 274 are injured during a marathon in this nation, it becomes something of extreme importance to our national security – and it doesn’t diminish the importance of lives lost throughout the world on any other day.

When something like this happens, our Facebook feeds all become a little more serious. People are reluctant to tell everyone what was for lunch while so many others suffer.

This whole situation points to something even more important. Many Americans only read the news when it is forced in their face. I won’t lie: I first heard the news about Boston from Facebook.

But this won’t happen for every tragedy, and it won’t happen for every major event. Even when it does, you can’t assume all the information you’re reading is factual.

So instead of checking your Facebook feed every five minutes and thinking you’re really caught up with what’s happening around the globe, go read the New York Times or listen to NPR instead. Start reading world news headlines—you might be surprised.

At the very least, you won’t look so ignorant on Facebook.

Michelle Heath is a journalism junior. She can be reached at  MichelleHeath@my.unt.edu

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