Colorado shooting - International outcry. South African Shooting - Who cares?

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Cast your memories back to the 20th July last month and the main news story that day was the Colorado shooting, in which university dropout James Holmes killed 12 innocent people in a cinema. Now, back to August, and grieving families and over 1,000 other people have attended a memorial service for the 34 South African miners who were shot dead by police whilst striking last Thursday (16th August).

Both of similar distance from England, both of equal tragedy, yet the latter received a fraction of the media coverage Colorado Killer Holmes received when he went on his killing spree.

What is it that makes us so much more responsive to a killing in the United States, rather than a killing in South Africa?

Every day, we’re bombarded with American culture, from their sitcoms and trash TV, to news stories about their celebrities. Cultural similarities make the UK and the US connect on many levels and our countries are extremely similar in many ways which brings us together and we empathise with them and their problems.

We pay more attention to what’s happening with Zayn from One Direction, Perez Hilton’s blog, or who Avril Lavigne is getting married to than international tragedies, which is sad.

But what happened in South Africa is verging on a humanitarian crisis. It is the epitome of corruption and oppression. Who gave the orders for 34 policemen to shoot dead innocent miners and who is to blame?  Sadly because of its inconsequence to us as a nation, and because of the vast cultural and political dissimilarities that separate us, the British have shown very little concern over the matter.

Mainly, the reason for our disconnection from the situation is our lack of similarities and recent history with South Africa.

South Africa – Cut off from Britain and the online world?

Holmes’ massacre became somewhat of a media frenzy, continued coverage of the crime for weeks following made it into a real life TV drama, with James Holmes as the lead character.

The USA has the most Twitter users in the world, with approximately 63% of Twitter users hailing from there, whilst South Africa doesn’t even make up 2% of the Twitter community.

As the Colorado killing happened, we saw the outpouring of condolences sweep across the Twittersphere, from young and old people alike. On the other hand, with the South African miner massacre, no firsthand accounts of the situation were available to us, we weren’t able to follow the situation as closely because quite simply, we had no way of connecting to the people involved. Our only updates on the situation were from large media and news outlets.

Hopefully, as Twitter spreads more than it already has, countries such as South Africa and other countries that are more disconnected from us will be able to connect with us, and us, the younger generation will be able to show the same level of concern for other countries as we do for America. At the end of the day, a tragedy is a tragedy, whether it is in Iran or Michigan.

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