Well, this particular comment pertained to social media and how it affects how we view the world.
Obama said, “And the truth of the matter is, is that the world has always been messy. In part, we’re just noticing now because of social media and our capacity to see in intimate detail the hardships that people are going through.”
And he’s right.
People have so much access to information nowadays that we’re inundated with it nearly constantly. If it’s not non-stop cable news it’s blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or whatever other form of social media someone might use. Add in the fact that smartphones and tablets are everywhere, and not only do people have more options for where they get their news – but they can get to it at pretty much any moment of the day or night.
And guess which news sells best? Bad news.
A lot of great things happen in the world every single day. We just rarely hear about them. Because those kinds of stories don’t make a lot of money for media entities.
But don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of “bad news” on which to report.
Though people nowadays act as if things around the world have just gotten completely out of control. Have they really? Let’s take a look.
My mother, and people around her age, have told me about the stories where they did nuclear missile drills during school. You know, when the Soviet Union had nuclear bombs parked 90 miles off the United States coast.
We think the Iraq War was bad (and it was) but we lost a fraction of the troops that we did during Vietnam.
Do people really think the Middle East has ever been stable? Iran and Iraq waged one of the bloodiest wars in modern times. Over 1 million people died during a 7 year span. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on his own people, killing anywhere between 3,000-5000, as the war came to an end.
And let’s not forget while that war was going on we also saw the American hostage crisis in Iran and the 1983 bombing in Beirut that killed 307 people, including 241 members of our military.
And not too long after the Iran-Iraq war ended, Saddam tried to invade Kuwait.
Anybody remember the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, where hundreds of people died? That was fairly terrible.
What about the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993? Or the Branch Davidian standoff that happened that same year? Or what about the Oklahoma City bombing that happened in 1995? Just two years later.
Are these too recent? Okay…
Then what about the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby?
Or perhaps you’d rather talk about the horrific civil rights violations that occurred throughout our country leading up to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? You know, when African-Americans were sprayed with fire hoses, and had dogs sent after them, for standing up against segregation.
How about 1957 when nine African-Americans in Arkansas had to be guarded by the United States Army because people didn’t think they ‘belonged” among white students?
We can go back to the Korean War if you’d like. We “only” lost around 36,000 during that war. And remember, that war began just four years after World War II – where we lost over 400,000.
And that’s just our losses. That doesn’t include the millions of Jewish people, or other allied and enemy troops, that also perished during that war.
Look at how anti-war we are now. Could you imagine losing 400,000 Americans nowadays? Let alone, starting another war just four years after we saw another 36,000 die?
But hey, let’s keep going.
There’s always World War I. We lost around 116,000 during that war. Again, that’s just our losses. Millions of people died during this war as well. Not to mention the flu epidemic which broke out right at the tail end of the war, wiping out 3-5% of the world’s total population.
Then there’s women’s suffrage. That “proud” period of time in our country where women weren’t allowed to vote.
We can’t forget about the Civil War though. The exact number of casualties often varies but the “safe” estimate is that we lost hundreds of thousands of human lives during that “little” conflict.
And let’s not forget that the desire by some to own other human beings like animals or property was the catalyst behind that war.
Honestly, I could go on and on. The genocide of Native Americans, the numerous wars that proceed, and followed, the founding of this country.
And that’s just here. What I’ve just listed is a fraction of what’s gone on in just the last 200 years or so, not just here, but around the world.
But people believe the world is getting worse? I hate to break it to these people, but the world has always been terrible. We’re just seeing and hearing about it a lot more because technology has allowed us to.
And that’s exactly the point President Obama was making.
Because of how much access technology has given humans, we can now see and hear about things that even just a few years ago would have mostly gone unnoticed.
Add to the fact that “news” is now often driven by the most outrageous, negative and shocking stories and it’s no wonder why so many people think the world is imploding.
The reality is, the world has always been ugly. But thanks to technology, we’re finally starting to see first hand just how ugly it is. It’s up to us to find our own beauty within it and work on exposing that beauty for the good of those around us.
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