Thursday, July 20, 2006

Blogaganda: Digital enhancement

Today, friends on both sides of the Middle East crisis -- indeed, on both sides of the world -- e-mailed me photos intended to illustrate their separate beliefs.

One, an American friend here in Texas, sent several photos of American soldiers in Iraq purporting to show the humanity and sensitivity we all hope they're truly showing in their mission. The other, an American scholar living in Egypt, sent a grotesque portfolio of the destruction in Beirut, including what purport to be the mutilated, disemboweled corpses of Lebanese children, to prove the all-out brutality of the Israeli Defense Forces.

Both believe you are unlikely to see these photos in your daily newspaper. Both are wrong.

Photos of American soldiers doing good deeds in Iraq have appeared in many (maybe most) American newspapers, but the Radical Right Machinery has convinced gullible sycophants that the Liberal Media has suppressed anything that makes war look like the noble enterprise it is.

And photos of the destruction of Beirut -- albeit probably not gutted dead babies, Israeli or Lebanese -- have been appearing on TV and in news pages for more than a week, but the Radical Left Machinery has convinced gullible sycophants that the Corporate Media has suppressed anything that would celebrate noble Hezbollah's freedom-fighting and proof that the IDF is just a giant death squad.

Cameras might not lie, but sometimes photos don't tell the whole story. No matter how we feel about these wars, too many people have become unwitting digital-propagandists, forwarding material of questionable origin and purpose. Our inboxes are filled every day with politico-porn, usually designed to serve the twisted ends of their creators. Some of it supports our existing biases, so is less offensive ... and some of it challenges our presumptions, so is abhorrent. Personally, I accept very little I see on the Internet as fact without a profound skepticism.

The mainstream American media, reviled on the Web and the blogosphere -- sometimes for good reason -- remains the only institution which strives to present a fair and accurate picture. That's only a bad thing when it passes through the prism of our own biases.

But if you only want to see dead babies, the Internet is full of them. Knock yourself out.

1 comment:

SingingSkies said...

Sometimes I would love to have back even a few of the hours I've spent dealing with such emails. Some I simply roll my eyes at and delete.

Others require at least some level of response: "Perhaps we might examine this more closely." "How do you explain [some piece of info which runs counter to the stated premise of the email - researched and documented from a reliable source]?" "You might want to look at this site."

Yet at the same time, I don't begrudge the time spent of this stuff, because it gives me a better understanding of what's happening in the community. Second verse, same as the first, wouldn't it be nice if everyone were willing to truly listen to what each other has to say? We all might learn something.