I had never before thought about whether or not “bearing witness” could have faults. I have always just been accepting of “eyewitness” accounts as the most truthful and real- they were there weren’t they? I wasn’t, I couldn’t feel the terror or pure joy of an event and couldn’t possibly understand the emotions of an up-close personal experience, but Ariana Huffington gives an excellent point about bearing witness in her article. Sometimes people see what they want to see not what the actually see, she referenced Malcom Muggeridge’s concept of “the eye witness fallacy” to show this point. It makes perfect sense though, your so caught up in a situation that you don’t see it for what it is but rather you see it how you want to see it.
New technologies are giving us incredible and fast ways to give hundreds of more eyewitness accounts. Quick tweets or uploads from an iphone give us events in real time from people there, so despite the possibility of the eyewitness fallacy your not getting just one account, your getting them by the hundreds. And that increase in eyewitness accounts make it so much easier for people miles away from the event to feel the immediacy, the emotion and the importance of the occurring event.
I think one the best examples of the power recently of these new mediums and the ability to get hundreds of thousands of eyewitness accounts uploaded and embedded on the internet was during the uproar of protests against the Egyptian government. Youtube and twitter allowed viewers from across the globe to feel the live emotions of the event without the filtration that big media outlets tend to do. Without citizens having the tools to capture video, many of the events during the turmoil in Egypt would have never been seen.
This video went viral on the internet, minutes after it occurred, of a woman getting brutally beaten by Egyptian police in the streets.
The ability of citizens to step in as the role of journalists to a certain extent, is allowing the world to no longer being ignorant or unaware of occurrences across the globe. These new tools carry the potential to mobilize reform. Now nothing can go unseen or unheard.