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Despite purpose, social media erases voice

By Dalya Romaner

Section: Opinions

October 23, 2015

I live in a world where people are being replaced. Not by robots, but by anonymity. Cell phones have replaced face-to-face conversations, Twitter has replaced phone calls and Tinder has replaced dating. Physical action has become unnecessary; people are finding more and more ways to remain in the safety of their own homes or behind their computer screens instead of showing their faces and interacting with one another. Don’t get me wrong. Social media has countless benefits, but a number of disadvantages as well.

In light of recent tragedies around the world, particularly in America and Israel, I offer just one possible explanation. America has always had problems, but recently one has made constant headlines: gun violence. Yes, it’s related to mental health and gun control and numerous other factors, but I think it’s related to something else as well. In Israel, there has been a recent surge in violence between Arab-Israelis and their fellow Israeli citizens. Some have called it the Third Intifada against undeserving Jews, and others call it well-deserved punishment for occupation. Everyone has their opinions and I am not discussing why either is right or wrong. My point is to connect American gun violence to the surge in fighting in Israel.  

We millennials have set ourselves apart as the generation of screens—screens that control our lives and determine our actions. These screens also set up a wall between us and the outside world. Many see these screens as a protective barrier that allows impersonal interactions in which we act very differently than we would if face-to-face. These screens also separate us from the world we live in. We watch and read the news to understand our surroundings instead of walking outside. We blog and post comments instead of raising our voices to the masses. Yet we find ourselves unheard.

A post on a website can go viral, but only for a very short amount of time. We are realizing that our virtual voices are much less effective than our physical voices, so we take action. In desperation of being heard and remembered for the issues we care about, we turn to the most memorable action we know: violence.

Initially, no one took notice when the Charleston shooter posted racist rants and confederate flags on Facebook, but when he murdered churchgoers, he became famous, or rather infamous. No one comments when Arab-Israelis post anti-Israel or anti-Semitic statements online, but after stabbing Jews on the streets, news is made. I do not justify any violent actions, but maybe there is an explanation that goes beyond politics, racism, mental health or religious duty. Maybe the answer is simply desperation to be heard among the billions of voices streaming online 24/7.

We face the issue today of being heard among the masses. Voter turnout in America is hitting record lows because people don’t feel their votes make a difference. Angry people are turning to murder by guns and knives to voice their opinions on race, politics, religion and more. People who think that only violence can make a difference are holding violent protests in the streets. We have to find a way to make people feel heard. Whether their opinions are right or wrong is irrelevant to the focus of this piece. What matters is that those who try to raise their voices must be acknowledged so they don’t feel the need to take to the streets, movie theaters, religious sites or bus stations and murder or hurt people to have their voices heard.

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