I never appreciated how much the media exaggerates things until the past few months. First it was the protests in Syria, immediately from the get go it was displayed as though a civil war was going on, with mass killings, and world leaders were condemning Assad for human rights violations. So I was immediately concerned as half my family lives in Damascus (I’m half Syrian) and spoke with my cousins over there. One of them was more concerned about what new mobile phone she should get (I told her to get an iPhone) and the other one who lives in the UK went for 2 weeks holiday there near Homs where a lot of the trouble is, she said the streets were quieter, but other than that she didn’t really see much. And last week, my parents just got back from a weeks holiday in Damascus to see my family. My Mum said all the tourists had left, but apart from that there really wasn’t much difference over there.
Then it was the London riots, all my friends from around the world saw the streets of London on fire and people (chavs) smashing things up. Like me with Syria, they saw the whole city falling apart and were worried for everyone over here, for me and most Londoners, and I live 1mile from Hackney, we didn’t see much, within a couple of days things were back to normal and its almost forgotten.
Those two experiences have really made me appreciate how the world media really warps people’s view of whats going on in the world, and why when you actually speak to people who live in the middle of these stories, a lot of the time they really don’t see what the fuss is all about. Its not that they’re oblivious to whats going on, and its not that there aren’t bad things happening, but that these things happen in small pockets of cities and countries and the way they’re presented its as thought that small pocket is actually the whole country, and everyone is affected.
The problem is it polarises the world to believe things that aren’t strictly true. How many people around the world probably see London now as a city full of gangs of chavs taking over the streets? We definitely have a problem, but its not something that affects my day to day life and I go across London every day. The West, and funnily enough Saudi Arabia (you can’t seriously criticise anyone’s human rights when you’re Saudi Arabia!) are using the events in Syria to polarise the world into believing that all of Syria is under the tyranny of Assad, that everyone is unhappy and waiting to kick him out, when the reality I see from talking to real people who live there, is completely the opposite! They want what they see as a small minority of people to stop the protests so they can get on with their lives peacefully – and they also want an iPhone 😉