The SNS oblivion
A man started hurling a metal bench and chairs at another man who was lying on the ground in a pool of his own blood. Even though he was already unconscious, people did not stop. Countless numbers of feet kicked him in the face, and every time, more and more blood drained through from his head.
This horrible description is what actually happened during the terrorist attack that happened in Israel on Oct. 21. An attack at a bus station in southern Israel ended up killing an Israeli soldier and injuring at least 11 people.
The victim of the mob beating was Haptom Zerhom, an Eritrean asylum seeker who was mistaken for an attacker and was shot by the police. However, a single gunshot in his leg was not enough to take his life. Instead, it was an angry mob who took his life. People also mistook the asylum seeker for a Palestinian terrorist and decided to practice justice on their own. And the video footage of the entire incident was broadcasted on Israeli television, creating high tensions.
A day after the killing, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned in his remarks that “Israel is a country of law. No one will take the law into his own hands. That’s the first rule.” He also added, “What we see here is a combination of radical Islam and the Internet. Incitement on social networks is driving the murder.”
Since when are people so easily driven by their emotions over rationality? As Netanyahu mentioned, social media is now dominating people’s thoughts and actions, which even leads to international tension.
It is everywhere. On Facebook walls, Twitter and pretty much all types of social networking sites. Comments are becoming more and more emotional and violent. In online news articles about sex crimes, it is always the most violent comments describing how the criminal should be punished or “killed” that gets the most likes. Political articles - no matter if they are official news or personal postings - are no exception. People are eager to “kill” and “punish” those politicians they hate in the most brutal way possible.
Easily driven by emotion, people are now forgetting the fact that their personal venting could lead to serious results, especially on the societal scale. Simple touches or clicks lead us to desired contents, nibbling away patience and careful attitude. Once emotion takes control over rationality, it is natural that the aftermath of an action is not considered.
In the case of Israel and Palestine, in which national tension prevails throughout the region, expressing thoughts on the Internet should be carefully regulated. Within the international society, the term “online battle” is not strange anymore. Online conflicts have the power to be brought into actual action, resulting in casualties.
Now is about the right time to think about how Internet usage should be modified to keep it away from turning into a lethal weapon.
by Moon Soo-hyun, Student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies