Thursday, 21 July 2016

Fair is foul and foul is fair

Bianca Jagger is the latest celebrity who has been forced to apologise, after re-tweeting a post, which claims that Jews, black people, Trade Unions, those with connections to the Militant Tendency, Marxists and Homosexuals had conspired to support the 2003 Iraq war. 

Re-tweeted just days after the publication of Britain’s Chilcot Inquiry, Bianca Jagger has since apologised for re-tweeting these allegations, claimed she posted them at 4am and reiterated her support for equality. 

But Jagger isn’t the first person to have been caught out by this, where after the fact everyone is then subjected to statements denouncing prejudice. If anything, in Britain such views as those expressed in the Jagger re-Tweet, along with a host of pictures depicting decomposing corpses, are now common place on Social Media.

Racism, Sexism, along with a host of threats often relating to rape, is what is now called “debate” for many online. While Anti-Semitism and posting pictures of chared bodies, is “concern for people in other countries”. Accusations of Zionism, combined with denunciations, is simply people expressing their “democratic right”. 

These are just some examples of daily life on Social Media, in the endless saga which George Orwell himself couldn’t make up. But when people feel threatened by those challenging this online behaviour, it’s often followed by a variation on the old saying; “I’m not a racist, my best friends black”. 

Gone are the days when people were baking cakes, having dinner with friends or simply socialising, which often ended with a couple of benign pictures online. In this age of extremes, it’s sometimes photographs of happy family gatherings and then seconds later, a dead child appears, spread out and surrounded by rubble. 

The same applies to video’s, as executions, be-headings and genocides are also a public exhibition on Social Media. People’s approval or dislike of content is played out through emoticons, while a general absence of thought is given to victims in their last moments, with less thought to their surviving relatives. 

Allot of content is also unsubstantiated and lacking credibility, in a world outside the numbers on a “friends” list. Most pictures have neither a date, time stamp or specific location. While the only thing factual about online allegations, is in the minds of those making the claim, and those who click like.Setting up a Social Media profile, often takes seconds and anyone can do it. 

Gruesome video’s and pictures can also be found with a basic search engine. But what takes skill, is resisting the urge to simply re-post. Just as it takes intelligence to question content, location, times and dates of information, that someone claiming to be your “friend”, is wanting you to share. 

Hussein Al-alak, editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra). You can also follow him on Tumblr.

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