One thing social media has taught me over the past few years is how basic human empathy can be shockingly rare. The comments section can be a cruel place, and the ignorance some people show still baffles me.
Therefore, I made one basic vow to myself: show human decency.
I hope I’ve shown that empathy towards others online. But as I open social media now, my feed is filled with news and opinions on the current Israel-Hamas War. I read all of them, hoping to educate myself and help in whatever way I can. However, in the past few days, people I don’t know are demanding I make a statement on what’s happening in the Middle East. Most people have something to say, whether that be reposting informative stories on Instagram or making videos explaining the situation on TikTok.
A good portion of them also mention that those who have stayed silent are responsible for the growing number of deaths. This is not a claim I take lightly, especially when I’ve vowed to do my part in making social media less hostile.
Everyone was taking a side because it was now deemed wrong to stay neutral. Somehow, people started to attribute silence to an insensitivity towards human suffering. That not forming an opinion automatically meant I was supporting the “bad guy” and therefore too afraid to speak up.
Yet, even those who expressed an opinion were receiving backlash. Writing that one wanted to #FreePalestine was seen as an act of hatred towards Jews and support for Hamas. Posting one’s anger about the deadly Hamas attacks was suddenly twisted into a hatred for Palestinian lives. There is no way to escape social media’s heavy clutches and loud opinions. Our generation speaks up about issues that matter, and apps such as Instagram, TikTok, and X are the perfect platform to do so.
That doesn’t bother me. Discourse and discussion are necessary to gain more information, and I know many people welcome it.
What doesn’t sit right with me, however, is the idea that I am a bad human being for not posting about the Israel-Hamas War, and that anyone else who doesn’t speak up is in the wrong. This is not a black-and-white situation where there are only two choices, and there are many reasons why someone may not want to express their opinion online.
Some people want to stay silent and listen to the more important, educated voices take the stage. There are those who don’t have all the information and are uncertain about what’s happening. They might want to take a second to gather the facts because with something like the Israel-Hamas War, where there is a deep-rooted history, the timeline is fast and the events can be overwhelming. Or perhaps someone is taking the time and space to process things, especially if this event is traumatizing for them. There is nothing wrong with staying silent, but it is wrong to pressure others into speaking up when they are not ready, especially if numerous strangers online are waiting to pick apart their opinion at any given moment.
Not to mention, our lives do not revolve around social media. At the dinner table, I’ve been having conversations with my family about what is happening in Gaza. I’ve had respectful discussions with my friends, both over text and in-person. My statements are simple: I think that Hamas is a terrorist organization — one that does not represent Palestine — and Israel has the right to defend themselves. Palestine also has suffered in the hands of Israel in the past, and while that is something to acknowledge, it doesn’t mean Palestine is without flaws. No matter what, though, innocent civilians should not be caught in the crossfire.
I am still educating myself, but I am doing so in private. I don’t post about it on social media because there is a lot of history to uncover. Not to mention, it’s hard to find a news site that is reliable, especially if their authors are biased. I know countless others are doing work in silence, as well. What matters is that action is being taken — and if I don’t want to share that with a bunch of strangers online, that is my choice. Silence does not equate to violence.
I am not obligated to voice every opinion I have. And neither are you.
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1 month, 2 weeks ago by Hamstar12345
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