Back in the early1960’s, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement the world watched as violence and hatred played out every night on TV. A few years later, we watched the horrors of the Vietnam War taking place on the other side of the globe, from the comfort of our living rooms. Those broadcasts made an indelible mark on me at the time, growing up in my fairly sheltered life in suburbia. They opened my eyes to the world and I took it all in.
Yesterday, a tragic bombing occurred during the Boston Marathon that took the lives of three people and injured dozens more. Seconds, after the first of the two bombs went off, everyone who was connected to the Internet, immediately knew what had happened, regardless of where they were in the world. Photos, video and sound recordings went viral – globally and instantly. Along with the “bonified” news broadcasts transmitted in real time, rumor and speculation spread instantly as well.
In the 50 plus years that have gone by since those early days of “live” news coverage, bringing “awareness” into our homes, technology continues to impact our lives in a profound way. We are connected globally and there’s no turning back that clock. We are no longer isolated from what is taking place anywhere and everywhere on the planet.
We are all collective participants. We can tweet, blog, post images and video on Facebook and numerous other social media platforms without really needing anyone’s validation, permission or vetting whatsoever. Think of the power in that. It gives everyone a voice on a global scale. But along with that comes responsibility. It used to be that if you saw something written in a newspaper or heard it on the evening nightly news on TV, it was true and you could believe it. But now what do we do? How can we decipher and determine what we see and hear online is true and accurate? Ultimately, we need to make those judgments ourselves.
I’ve been thinking about this all morning, and I can only hope that as we become more connected through technology, that we start to embrace our similarities as human beings, instead of being split apart by our differences. For those of us who are documenting the world through images and video, whether professionally or not, we are broadcasting on a global scale, on a daily basis. Think about the power of that and the responsibility.