“That gun is loaded, but it’s not in my hand
The fire burns, I’m not the one with the match – man
That gun is loaded – but it’s not in my hand …”
~ Red Hands, from Canadian band ‘Walk Off the Earth.’
The blood is real – it’s been flowing for years.
Clicking the angry emoticon on Facebook is not going to change that.
The abject State sanctioned violence is real – and it’s barbarically horrific.
Retweeting news reports and pictures of dead children is not going to change that.
The continued politicisation of the plight of the Syrian people – is manifestly indifferent to their humanitarian needs.
And we scroll on.
Slacktivism has millions of people clicking, liking, tweeting and instagramming their support for the Syrian people but social vanity metrics don’t save lives. Our social media support doesn’t extend to influencing our Government’s policy and decision makers and our third of a second attention span – before we scroll on – doesn’t contribute a single thing.
Yet – we scroll on.
While Syrians are bombed, they are also banned from traveling to America.
And we scroll on.
While the status of Syrian refugees around the world continues to be a politicised issue instead of humanitarian one – we scroll on.
And while Russia and the United States get out their big-boy military toys and have a pissing contest in someone else’s country …
What is clear in this escalating situation is that the Syrian people need protecting from just about everyone. Their Government, the Russians, the Americans and ISIS.
This isn’t new – it’s just new to a new President who rightly or wrongly advised, has set in motion a cascading series of events that – you guessed it – doesn’t have the best interests of the Syrian people at heart. But that isn’t new either. No one has had the best interests of the Syrian people in mind for years:
“Since 2011, President Bashar al-Assad has made mockery of the Geneva Convention, killing tens of thousands of civilians through chemical weapons use, besiegement and starvation, torture, forced disappearance and mass executions.” (Dara Conduit, The Australian, 7 April 2017)
Were you clicking and retweeting your support for Syria back then?
How did that work out for Syrians?
While some argue that a continued newsfeed presence draws attention to a particular cause or injustice – where is the social proof when it comes to the conversion point?
How many lives did it save?
Refugees did it resettle?
Liking a post or retweeting a picture may make you feel supportive, but all you’re contributing to is the mass promulgation of the propaganda of whomever’s news outlets you favour.
Syria needs far more than your angry emoticons and retweets. It needs your action.
Rise up and participate in lawful acts of civil disobedience.
Demand more and better from your elected leaders and the media.
Tell your President, Prime Minister, Senator or Member of Parliament that their reelection prospects depend on their ability to meaningfully provide practical, humanitarian solutions to the Syrian people.
While slacktivism is our default response to crises like Syria – we’ve all got red hands.
‘Red Hands’ – while not specifically a song about Syria – inspired my post as it represents the profound inaction social media slacktivism has on those who we seek to “help.” Inaction can therefore equal a level of complicity: the standard you walk past, is the standard you accept.