Picture Imperfect by Ron Steinman
Despite the expense of boring you, dear reader, or even reminding you about the horror of the wars in Iraq and Syria and especially the fight for Mosul and Aleppo my reposting this piece is because I saw a powerful story on the PBS News Hour, December 1 by Jane Ferguson about the battle for Mosul. Read it and weep. I will allow you that right. But whatever you do, do not ignore the reality of unbridled war.
The terrible civil war continues unabated in Syria. In case you forgot, which you might have already done, the boy in the picture is five-year-old Omran Daqneesh. We watched him as he sat dazed and wounded in the back of an ambulance in Aleppo after yet another bombing of his neighborhood. He lifts his hand to his face, tries to wipe the blood away, something he cannot, and then he stares emptily into space. The photo went viral, became a major meme of the war, a sensational symbol of all that is evil and hopeless in Syria. Some thought the photo would have an effect on the war and its conduct. After all, Omran is a young boy in distress. He should not be wiping blood from his face. He should be playing in the street without fear. Because of social media, the photo has probably been viewed millions of times. Since it first appeared, there have been other horrible images of the war. But what happened to Omran’s photo? However many times we pull it up it is still as wrenching as when we first saw it. Despite its power, it has had absolutely no effect on the state of the war. It is easy to consider it yesterday’s news, as I am sure many do. That it had no effect on the war says something damning about the Internet. Omran’s photo had a very short life. Instead of a shot heard round the world, the picture became a shot too soon forgotten. Omran disappeared in the morass of social media where everything is exposed and nothing lives for very long. Social media is a world of plenty. Omran had no longevity because everything on the Internet has a very short life. In the end Omran was just another photo on a typically nasty day in an increasingly ugly war. More is the pity.
Photo by Mahmoud Raslan/Aleppo Media Center