The streets were once filled with bustling activity, and people went about their day to day life — going to work, running errands, picking their children up from school, eating at outdoor cafes, and enjoying the peaceful existence that their home provided for them. The people embraced their surroundings, making up the diversity that was found in the country. This image is not of one city, nor of one country, but of many. In Donetsk, Damascus, Aleppo, Ramadi, Sinjar, and numerous other places, that image is no more. Wars have long raged and been reported on, but never has war been reported as it is today, watched across the world by people on their smartphones, televisions and computers.
With technology advancing more and more, it is easy to find an image or video filmed in eastern Ukraine, Yemen, or any other conflict area. The power of the media has been able to show a different side of the war. During the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, reporters were imbedded with forces on both sides. This gave only a two-sided view of the war. Both sides presented what they wanted the world to see, yet rarely did the world hear from the average Iranian or Iraqi citizen or those affected on either side by the war.
Today, social media can be credited for spreading more information than any 24-hour news station. In a matter of seconds, a person across the globe can know and see what is happening on the other side. Major news networks such as CNN, BBC and others today extensively use social media to spread their news reporting, presenting the news in a less ‘traditional’ manner, through YouTube videos, short articles and even one-sentence news headline texts. The images of war and destruction that are intermittently spread across the world have come to show the people of the world the hidden faces of war. Nowadays there is no longer two sides to every story, but many.
Just researching the conflict in Syria one can find a plethora of reports about the opinions of the Syrian government, the Free Syrian Army, the minorities, the conscripts etc. News reporting has strayed away from its standardized version, slowly catching up with its evolving surroundings. There is countless good that has come about from such a change. However, apathy does still cast a shadow on such developments. With news today spreading faster than before, the sheer volume of circulating information can in cases make people more apathetic. While constant visibility of an event can induce such feelings in some, it is important to remember the different sides that exist to every war and the different people in which it affects. While access to social media is limited, that number is steadily increasing. The latest figures from Facebook suggest that the number of people actively using social media each month has reached over two billion by August of 2014. These numbers are expected to rise even more, by January 2015 over three billion people were active internet users. Hopefully the continued increase in the use of social media hand in hand with credible news reporting will contribute to an upsurge in awareness that will hopefully inspire change.