YouTube has recently become one of the most popular mediums for spreading the word about human rights violations around the globe, from the death of female protester Neda Agha-Soltan after last year’s election in Iran to police brutality in Zanzibar and human rights abuses in Russian prisons. But while this influx of amateur footage of human rights violations is certainly giving us a better idea of the inhumanity going on in other parts of the world, I can’t help but wonder whether these snuff-like videos aren’t desensitizing us to these atrocities. The more videos we see of people being killed, beaten and treated like animals the less shocking it is. Is human rights citizen journalism desensitizing us?
YouTube has been working on a blog series with WITNESS, human rights video advocacy and training organization, and in their most recent post they ask YouTubers for their opinions on human rights in a series of questions. One of the most interesting questions that they ask regards our desensitization to human rights footage:
“In the past, in many countries, human rights images were largely filtered through the news media. But today, nearly everyone has seen a video or photo on the Internet that has made them aware of injustice. With access to these kinds of images getting easier, and more stories appearing from more places, the sheer quantity of this content risks either overwhelming viewers, or desensitizing us to its value. How do you think people can stay alert to the power of these images without becoming immune to them?”