Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’


War 2.0, Unedited

July 21, 2008

Here I am today – munching some Middle Eastern staple food (pita bread with hummus) for a quick lunch and reflecting on this week’s class topic about the Iraq war’s on-line dimensions and how the Internet is changing our perception of war. While browsing through the overwhelming amount of on-line materials related to the war in Iraq – blogs, videos, articles, discussions – it occurs to me as a surprise that there are no two sides of the story. There are plenty! There are as many sides as the number of people involved in the global conversation about it with their unique perspectives, narrative and view points.

The Internet and Web 2.0 put us literally in the middle of the action in this war. In previous wars it has also been possible for us to be exposed to first-hand narrative from soldiers interviewed by the media or TV footage. What is different now is that soldiers and war victims (refugees) have become the media themselves, giving us the ultimate live feed of stories from the trenches. It is the first-person account of war, unedited. For real. Do we need to be that close to the war? Yes, we do. And this is not a question of good or bad. It is a reality and a necessity. We should have that much access to the front lines of the war, because of their right to share and our right to know.

One of the topics concerning the war in Iraq that grabbed me was how children and young people are influenced by it and how they relate to what is happening. That is bearing in mind not only the suffering of Iraqi kids and youth, but also the fact that so many American soldiers are young people themselves. I found an interesting juxtaposition between two stories reported by the War News Radio earlier this year. The first one described how it is unsafe and practically impossible for Iraqi young people to meet or even date, as public social life is non-existent there any more and they have to resort to the use of the Internet to keep in touch, chat, talk via Skype and make friends. In the second story the mother of a 23-year old American soldier tells how her son came back from his deployment in Iraq suffering shame, gult, trauma, disillusionment and paranoia and was constantly getting in trouble by trying to “bring the adrenaline back”. She says the first time her son went to war for the idea of bringing democracy to Iraq. The second time his reason changed to “oil”, as his belief in the cause of this war dwindled.

The Iraq war brought not only disappointment about its purpose, but also disappointment about how it is protrayed by traditional media. Soldier Brian Paul, for example, came to the bitter conclusion that the media fails to show the reality experienced by the American troups in Iraq. This prompted him to find a remedy for all misleading or inaccurate media reports on any topic by creating the FixMedia website. There citizens can flag problematic media content. Would Brian have done it, if he had not experienced personal disappointment? I don’t know. But it is good to know that he enabled at least one open place on the web that is free from politically biased fact checking on media stories with the only purpose “to seize the truth”.

One last note about young people involved in the war – they are social media savvy and want to have fun, as shown in this video, I came across today entitled “Dance Party in Iraq”. It may seem strange and my first reaction was to get judgemental, but then it occured to me that it actually provides one authentic and vivacious perspective, doesn’t it?