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To think it's OK to be more affected by stuff closer to home?

(64 Posts)
TravellingHopefully12 Tue 17-Nov-15 11:18:43

Lots of my friends are posting statuses saying things like 'Why do we care so much about Paris when things like this happen in Baghdad, Lebanon all the time and no one changes their status to Baghdad.'

It is true, and I see their point, but at the same time I find some of these posts a little smug. 'It's so much better than posting the French Flag' - etcetera.

I understand that what happens in Baghdad is horrific, and it happens all the time. If someone from Baghdad posted how sad they were, I would not dream of undermining it. If someone here posted how sad they were I also wouldn't undermine it, but it feels like people are saying 'your grief over this attack is not valid' (some of the comments and posts are very like that.)

But isn't it natural to be more affected by stuff closer to home? I have friends in Paris. DP's parents live in France. It doesn't mean I don't care about Baghdad and Syria. It just means I am really fucking sad about this and feel it like a slap in the face, and it feels that a lot of people are sneering at that. 'How dare you be sad when this happens all the time?'

But I am sad. And surely that is OK?

Thefitfatty Tue 17-Nov-15 11:23:48

YANBU. I've had to say this to several of my friends in the UK. It's perfectly ok to be more affected when something happens in your "backyard" so to speak, then many many miles away.

I've been living in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar for 10 years now, and I can honestly say I was more affected by what happened in Lebanon and Kenya then by what happened in Paris. That's because I have friends who were desperately trying to make sure friends and family members were ok. I didn't have that with Paris. I have to listen to friends talk about how their hometown in Syria is a pile of rubble and see how much it affects them face to face. Again, I don't get that as much anymore when things happen in Europe.

Feeling more affected by what happens closer to home does not mean you have less sympathy for horrible things happening elsewhere, you are allowed your perspective.

OurBlanche Tue 17-Nov-15 11:25:36

Yes. I posted yesterday that I couldn't currently care less about bombings, bombers, politicians etc, they can all sod off.

A childhood friend died unexpectedly and I have no way of finding out how, offering any meaningful condolences or getting my head round it.

So I am more distraught about that one death than the horrors of Paris.

We all have our own emotional protective measures. When they work well they allow us to experience grief in a measure that does not drown us. So having a geographical cut off point is perfectly normal.

spankhurst Tue 17-Nov-15 11:27:28

YANBU. It's simple human nature. It doesn't mean that deaths and atrocities further away mean nothing to you.

TravellingHopefully12 Tue 17-Nov-15 11:27:55

Fitfatty - that must be awful for you (seeing what is happening in Syria and knowing your friends are there, or are from there, and seeing the refugee crisis first hand, as it were)

Thank you for your post x

TravellingHopefully12 Tue 17-Nov-15 11:29:41

Blanche. My God, that's horrible. I am sorry about your friend. I think we do care more on an individual level, or a level which impacts on individuals we know.x

MusicalFanjo Tue 17-Nov-15 11:32:43

I've seen a lot of this too. I was reading the comments from an article about Paris recently and there was lot of "you western people don't give a shit about the rest of the world" from people from places like Lebanon and other effected areas as well as the usual "all muslims are terrorists" if ISIS intend to 'divide and conquer' then many people are playing right into their hands.

VagueIdeas Tue 17-Nov-15 11:33:00

If I'm a bad person for being more upset over Islamist attacks in Paris than I am in the Middle East, then I am a bad person.

I think we get a bit desensitised to suicide bombings in the ME because they're so commonplace. But when it happens in Europe, in a cosmopolitan capital city on a Friday night... well, that's different.

I won't apologise for it.

MrsFrisbyMouse Tue 17-Nov-15 11:35:25

It's not necessarily about being closer to home. It's about being something you can identify with. Be it through personal experience or through iconography/symbolism/stereotypes. Paris/London/New York - these are places we see referenced all the time. They are used in books, films, TV shows. We are culturally aware of their people, their landmarks. This is partly why they get chosen for this sort of attack - because it makes such a worldwide ripple and perpetuates the fear even more.

The horrors are horrors where ever they happen.

MythicalKings Tue 17-Nov-15 11:35:48

I'm a bad person as well, then.

Freezingwinter Tue 17-Nov-15 11:36:45

Yanbu, Paris is so close to us, how many of us have holidayed there, have friends and relatives there? I was looking back at my holiday photos, my now husband took me there for my 21st birthday and the thought of anyone doing something in a place I have such fond memories of disgusts me. Of course I care about other countries, but Paris has affected me more.

MorrisZapp Tue 17-Nov-15 11:38:30

Bad person here too. Why bother having local and national newspapers at all if we're supposed to be as interested in far flung places as we are with the place we live in, have kids in, and a government we vote for.

Thefitfatty Tue 17-Nov-15 11:39:05

"you western people don't give a shit about the rest of the world"

I think a lot of that is misplaced anger at the media and politicians in the Middle East. I'm a bit dumbfounded how the UAE can light up the Burj Khalifa for Paris but not even mention Lebanon, when a HUGE portion of their population are from Lebanon!

The media is quite Western-focused (understandably since most of the major media institutions here have a Western base) and that gets at people, because they feel ignored.

Doesn't help that Middle Eastern countries don't do much to help other Middle Eastern countries. sad

bluebolt Tue 17-Nov-15 11:39:55

I live closer to France than Scotland, I have been to France more times than I have been to Scotland. So yes France feels the same as if it was here in the UK to me personally. I disagree with the lack of news coverage but I am more affected by France as I was walking the streets of Paris two months ago. That does not excuse the appalling lack of media news of other tragedies.

greenfolder Tue 17-Nov-15 11:41:59

Couldn't agree more. In theory they are correct. In practice terrorism is all about creating fear. And it works. I really struggle to imagine living in a pile of rubble in the Middle East being bombed. I empathise but can't relate to it. But going out for a night out and people roaming through the streets shooting people as they sit with a drink or watch a gig? Yes I can relate to that more.

StillDrSethHazlittMD Tue 17-Nov-15 11:54:09

I know people in both Beirut and Paris. And I know my friends in Beirut have felt somewhat let down by much of what has happened since Friday.

Obama came out and made a statement about Paris fairly swiftly, as did other world leaders. They didn't do this about Beirut. Across the world, places lit up red, white and blue. Facebook decided to make it easy to show solidarity with France but not anywhere else (I think a peace symbol would have been more appropriate, personally).

The thing is, while it is good to show solidarity, by so much being directed at one country, those in other terrorist-hit countries feel that they don't count as much. Or that people don't care what happens there. My friends say they've felt fairly isolated from the world for ages. But now they feel pretty much abandoned.

That, understandably, hurts. There have also been some blogs from people in Lebanon expressing similar thoughts. I can understand that. At the same time I can also understand people finding it easier to be effected by Paris because it is closer to home.

But therein lies the rub. We're "praying for Paris" and showing "solidarity with France". Now is indeed the time to unite together. I do think the France focus has, in some measure, done the opposite (at least if you're in Lebanon or some of the African countries). Google has a black ribbon to show support for France. Ebay was donating a percentage to France.

I can quite see how people in other countries seeing all this activity and news coverage (which is clearly at fault for not reporting other atrocities with equal force) and the red, white and blue everywhere, feel we, in the west, don't give a shit about them.

You also have to remember that ISIS enjoy dividing and conquer and I don't think it is too much of a stretch to think that some people in Beirut or Africa might know think "hey, ISIS has a point - the West don't give a shit about us, so maybe we should hitch up with them instead".

TravellingHopefully12 Tue 17-Nov-15 11:56:18

The horrors are horrors where ever they happen.

Frisby, I agree, they are. Paris just feels a lot closer and it hurts more. Of course any murder is appalling, but these ones feel like it could so easily be us/someone we know.

honkinghaddock Tue 17-Nov-15 11:59:31

I have few people on my facebook have done this. I wouldn't mind if they just wrote what they thought. It is more of the sharing stuff that I find annoying. These same people share a lot of stuff about things that particularly affect them eg about a particular disability but not about other disabilities. I think they are being hypocritical.

MorrisZapp Tue 17-Nov-15 12:00:40

But the attack took place in the West. So of course the west is interested.

If I was to get scared, angry and mournful every time people in the Middle East killed each other I'd have to give up work.

OnlyLovers Tue 17-Nov-15 12:02:37

I think YABU, actually. A friend was telling me how deeply shaken and upset she was by the Paris events, and I couldn't help wondering why I've never heard a peep out of her along similar lines in response to Beirut or any of the other horrendous recent atrocities.

I hear what you're all saying about having friends or family in France etc (I had friends in New York during 9/11 and Tokyo during the sarin gas attacks; I have had those dreadful feelings of worry and fear for them), but an atrocity is an atrocity wherever it happens. On an intellectual level at least, I hope I can feel equally shocked and saddened at them all.

TravellingHopefully12 Tue 17-Nov-15 12:03:35

Dr Seth, your post is great at explaining how let down these people feel and how angry they are.

A lot of the FB posts about it come across as smug and self righteous, but it's not as though the people posting particularly care about Lebanon or post about it otherwise - they seem to be using it to invalidate the sadness about Paris and sneer - like it's their prize to take the moral highground (just to tone of the posts.)

Your post, in contrast demonstrates real solidarity with the people of Lebanon and an understanding of how awful/isolated they will feel. It's thought provoking and gave me a deeper understanding, although I am still sad about Paris. Thank you

TravellingHopefully12 Tue 17-Nov-15 12:05:24

Lovers, I don't know if you can feel shock on an intellectual level, can you? Of course I feel sadness.

wigglesrock Tue 17-Nov-15 12:07:45

YANBU - I've been to Paris more times than I've been to England, Scotland or Wales. I've been to very similar restaurants/concerts etc. I live in Belfast, have done my whole life (over 40 years), I felt terribly sad and angry when I was watching tv on Friday evening, it doesn't been I'm putting some lives above another, it means that I can see myself there ifykwim.

marcopront Tue 17-Nov-15 12:23:07

I have lived in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe. My Facebook feed is fairly multinational. I can only remember one comment about Lebanon, compared with hundreds about France.
I used to live in Kenya and my reaction to the Westgate Mall attack was much more than to any other attack, but I had been there, I knew people who went there and consider myself lucky that no one I knew died there.
It is interesting comparing the response to the Westgate Mall attack (an expensive Mall in Nairobi frequented by foreigners) to the one at the university in Garissa. Same country, similar death toll but different group of people.

AliceScarlett Tue 17-Nov-15 12:27:46

Thanks for saying this, I feel guilty that it's effected me more because its closer.

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