In late 2014 ISIS posted a video featuring 17 year old Abdullah Elmir from Sydney’s South West declaring that the Islamic State would “not put down our weapons until we reach your lands.”
“First they became ice addicts, and now they are joining ISIS because of videos on the ‘instagrams? What is happening to our children?” Thought my Grandmother (probably) after seeing the video.
Her, and her age group, are who I’d imagine would amount to a large percentage of the population affected by current media anxieties. These videos, posted on social media by the Islamic State, combined with ‘scare statistics’ released by the mainstream media allow them to believe that the media is responsible for turning their children into jihadists. One of these reports, which was conducted by the Home Office in the United Kingdom state that the Islamic State is on a 24 hour social media crusade looking for recruits with reportedly over 50 000 ISIS linked twitter accounts in existence.
Expert on Jihadist groups, Aaron Zelin, suggests that these twitter accounts have an exposure that spans across millions of people. According to Ashton Carter, the US Pentagon chief, “People who are very distant from any battlefield… are suddenly becoming enticed through social media.”
Hang on, this seems like the answer people, admittedly like my Grandmother were hoping for, blame the media entirely so we do not have to examine the real societal problems at bay. Genius.
Although obviously far more sinister than the anxieties of the 1960’s that ‘rock and roll’ is turning the children to Satanists, the notion of blaming the medium and not its environment still endures. It has been well established throughout history that education and employment rates, as well as the lack of the possibility of societal advancement is the context likely to turn people to radicalism. This is also evident of those wishing to join the Islamic State.
Abdullah Elmir enticed other youths at his Bankstown Youth Centre to join ISIS through offers of friendship and shelter, just to name two. I think particular attention should be paid to the first offer listed. Maybe we as a society should direct our anxieties toward not what the media is giving but what we as a society are not.
Maybe the media should not be the only cause of my Grandmother’s anxieties.
Until next time,