In today’s world, violence and controversy has dominantly spread over social media platforms and news aggregators alike. Arguably, this is due to the predominant capitalist mentality of these platforms, as is apparent in the aftermath of heinous crimes, such as the recent New Zealand mosque shootings and the “War Against Drugs” in the Philippines. Current mainstream news outlets, in the US and elsewhere, regularly follow the tradition of “If it bleeds, it leads.” This regrettable reality fosters the sensationalism of graphic violence.
The “War Against Drugs” in the Philippines is a common topic in news outlets both inside and outside the Philippines. The reason behind this occurrence is that there is a lot of controversy around this proposed war. This war is controversial because a lot of the victims of this war are innocent people, as opposed to the original targets, which are the drug pushers. This is due to the factor of stereotyping, an avoidable technique many media outlets commit. The media generally promotes that people who are less economically stable are commonly involved in crimes and delinquency, which makes it easier for extra judicial killings to take place.
These extra judicial killings could be avoided through more efficient communication, as well as, avoiding misrepresentation. However, it is no secret that popular news and media outlets choose what is believed to be the most “provocative” stories for the audience. In other words, the media tends to broadcast all the negative aspects of the world’s current events, highlighting the violence instead of trying to promote how these issues can be fixed.
If these news outlets were to focus on a more positive avenue of discourse, for example, providing essential questions to make society think of solutions to these problems, this would alleviate the situation greatly. By focusing on more positive and peaceful communication, it would make it harder for injustices to occur. At the same time, peaceful communication allows for people who partake in media usage to find solutions to problems with minimal casualties.
As Ghandi believed, violence can’t be counteracted by more violence. This can directly relates to this issue in the way that if the government attempts to combat drug violence with more violence, such as the killings, it just creates a never ending cycle of violence that affects society in the Philippines both on a structural level of violence and a cultural one.
With this, as a society, we must all work together to shift our mindsets and avoiding believing only the perspective that is published in the media. Media outlets can also do their part by publishing the reactions of the friends and family of the people who were affected. Even if some of those who got killed really were drug traffickers, there are better and more ethical ways to deal with criminal activity. Nevertheless, we too must take action as we are the consumers of media and are in a position of responsibility just as much as the media outlets.
Saint Louis University – Madrid Campus