I want to talk about the strange world we currently live in. The only problem being that it’s absurdity is beyond my words. So, I will attempt to articulate at least a bit of it.
Enough time has elapsed in the internet age. It’s not news that we should all know social media is a disease that will ravage us, vomit us, then leave us questioning it’s sweet aftertaste. That’s just part of modern life now. We broadcast ourselves personally, professionally and sexually across multiple platforms and media’s; all with the ideal of being seen, loved and accepted. But I wonder if this affects our deeper thought process along the way?
Scrolling through my Facebook feed (which makes me cringe and feel old, young and pathetic all at once) I often perv into the lives of others with gut twisting glee. Trawling through the windows of my own, personal cyber high rise, I once came across something surprising. Something I couldn’t attribute to the dull meanderings of myself or anyone else I am only able to label acquaintances.
I watched a 17 year old girl be stoned to death in Saudi Arabia. In no way an uncommon sight to the world but within my own context, it was stunning. I watched it in full, naturally; I am that way inclined. Is there a difference between puncturing an oversized blackhead or the death of an innocent girl on religious grounds?
I saw the mass crowd jeer as the concrete crushed her skull into the golden, dust beneath. I saw how beautiful she was-or could have been- and how the perpetrators wore short sleeve linen shirts much like my own father might wear. I saw the assembled crowds pot belly’s (for they were mainly middle management looking men) and I saw their delight as their cheap trainers pummeled the girls toned, bikini clad body. I saw a person die.
Of course, context is everything, and this context unsettled me. Among the daily grind of my small, western life this idea just did not fit in. Pouring over my Facebook, I am but a postman shuffling from ordinary house to ordinary house. Among the greying grass and the cornflake box semi’s, I had stumbled into an act so surreal to my tiny mind that It could only be justified as the renderings of a video game or the climatic scene of a subtitled film I would have to force myself to watch months later. Instead of acting on any base human impulse for compassion, I move on without a second though. That postman (me in this pastoral metaphor) moved on to the next, ordinary house of safety among the mundane. I didn’t even attempt to write an attempted delivery card.
Many think that by piercing our everyday consciousness, these videos being the public domain raise awareness and thus raise activism; allowing us to engage with a world we would otherwise ignore, or perhaps had not known existed. This is true to an extent but the human mind is not so simple and, when shoved in among the junk mail, this particular sight is lost to the dark recesses of our own ego’s.
Slowly we are desensitised to the horrors of the world because we no longer have to face them. We can like it, or share it, or retweet it- absolving any personal responsibility. I do this all the time; I see a thing lingering on my screen, something I make myself think I care about, then I move on to the next piece of fiction which fits snug in the hole left by the previous post.
Being honest, this is only good for our own anxiety levels. We don’t have to help anyone, or consider anything, because we can just believe it be pretence.
For those 17 year old girls being stoned to death because they wanted to fuck, or drink or speak out of turn, it’s reality and they are the upcoming stars of the rebooted reality TV of our strange, new world.