Nov 22nd, 2015, 08:35 PM

Did the World Ignore Beirut, or Did You?

By Jessaline Fynbo
(Photo: Katy Jon Went)
Sharing articles could do much more good for the world than debating on social media.

Here’s how you can decide how one tragedy is more important than another – oh wait, that’s right – you can’t.

Following the tragic attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 social media networks blew up in outrage. But the outrage wasn’t solely based upon the fact that Paris had experienced a terror attack that had been the deadliest attack on the country since World War II, part of the outrage had to do with why a suicide bombing in Beirut, Lebanon did not get as much media coverage as the attack in France.

Contrary to popular belief, the suicide bombings in Beirut were reported on. In fact, the tragic event was reported on by The Guardian, The New York Times, CNN, The Economist and BBC - all major news platforms. So when it comes to not knowing about what had happened in Beirut the night before Paris, do we have anyone to blame but ourselves?

(Image Credit: Reuters)

Here’s the thing: the media will respond and report on what its readers ask for it to report on. Clearly there are many people in the world that would have wanted to know what occurred in Beirut which is why it was reported on (aside from the fact that the media has a responsibility to report on tragic events happening around the globe). For example, Cosmopolitan France seldom writes about LGBTQ issues. However, their editor-in-chief, Marie La Fonta, says that if readers wrote to Cosmo asking them to write about LGBTQ issues, they would – but their readers just don’t ask for it – nor do the readers have a problem with them not reporting on it.

So why don’t we just spread the news about something instead of just debating on whether or not a story was covered? It is clear that debating why certain events get more coverage over another event is a hot topic. However, we seem to forget as citizens that news spreads based on what we are talking about. The cold hard truth – whether you would like to accept it or not – is that more people were talking about the Paris attacks than they were talking about the suicide bombings in Beirut. Social media outlets revolve around the amount of tweets, posts, or comments on a particular topic. Hashtags and trending topics gain momentum based on how many times they are mentioned. Therefore, reports such as the one in Beirut were not cared for or covered less, but mentioned less on these platforms. Quite frankly, if you didn’t hear about what happened in Beirut, you only have yourself to blame. The online conversation that week and the week following quickly changed from people discussing these two tragic events to an outrage of why Paris got more coverage than Beirut. The question remains: were people really paying attention to what had happened in Beirut? Did people actually try to care about what had happened in Beirut before it became a topic for debate?

 (Image Credit: Reuters)

Don’t get me wrong – its obvious that people in the West care about what happens all around the world. Some people care – but it seems as though the majority of people online would rather debate on a post than to spread real news stories. The Western World has millions of people who believe that at face value, human beings are all the same and that no one deserves to suffer from the savagery that occurs around the world. The sad part is, sometimes people just don’t talk about it.

So instead of spreading false information by debating why CNN didn’t report on the suicide bombings in Beirut, what is the harm of simply posting an article on the topic instead of arguing with someone about it on Facebook? Why not inform people of what you know instead of complaining about what people aren’t informed of? Why not share the story about what is going on around the globe instead of re-tweeting the person complaining about how it wasn’t reported on, when in fact it was?

Debates on social networks can often distract people from important issues at hand. As we have seen, people hiding behind their computer screens can be cruel. So instead of fueling the fire with a debate that doesn’t hold a lot of value, share the article that needs the attention that it isn’t getting. Instead of questioning why you didn’t see something about it come up in your feed, broaden the news networks that you follow on your social networks. Follow accounts whose sole responsibility is to report on international news instead of waiting for your local newspaper to report on it. Give the journalists who wrote on these topics the credit they deserve for reporting on something that the majority of the public assumes wasn’t written about. Ignorance is not always bliss, and in a world that experiences as much pain and suffering as it does we cannot afford the ignorance that so many people have. I’m not saying that you have to keep up with every single thing that happens in the world every single day – in fact, to do that would be impossible. But what you can do is pay attention to things that happen outside of the world you are familiar and comfortable with.

Upset that you didn’t see a tragedy reported on? Check before you complain and share before you debate – it could make a huge difference in the world.