We read news titles such as this one – “A roadside bomb killed yesterday X civilians and Z soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan” – almost on a daily basis. Yes, the violence and the number of lost lives are striking. But we read about this so often, that at some point this news becomes something usual and impersonal. We are disconnected from the reality and complications of a war conflict, either by voluntarily choosing to not think deeper about the intricacy of the issue, or by not being exposed to all of its aspects. But we should know more – soldiers’ participation in a war is an impressive act and deserves more attention. They and their emotions are the human face of the bitter war reality which is much more obscured than, for example, its political face. The Web 2.0 serves the purpose of unveiling that reality. The fast-pace advancing digital revolution has provided those directly and indirectly connected with the war with a venue to express their opinions, ideology, and feelings. It has provided many soldiers with a way to talk about their extended period of service.
The internet has also turned into a medium for us to gather news reports, images and videos, especially since the start of the 2003 war in Iraq, of what it is like to be on the ground. According to a study conducted in 2003 by “77% of online Americans have used the Internet in connection with the war” since the 2003 Iraq War.
I know that some of you will ask: Do we need to be exposed to so much violence? We are exposed to it enough by the news outlets and by many of the movies we produce. I agree. But I also realize how important citizens’ and soldiers’ voices are in a time of a war, and how important it is for all these reports to be out there and available to the public.
As Alex Horton, the author of the Army of Dude, reveals in one of his last posts before going back home “the intention of this blog from day one was to chronicle my experiences in a way for people to understand and interpret what was going on beyond what was being filtered, distilled and spat out of the mainstream media.”
Warblogging and other forms of citizen journalism in a time of war allows us to change our misconceptions and disinformation about what it takes to be on the front lines. In addition, it can serve an educational tool for future generations to understand war and its savagery.
This video is a short confession of a US soldier in Iraq who pictured and videotaped everything from his first to his last day of service. The material was later used for the production of the documentary “My War Diary” .He explains that he did it not only for his fellow soldiers, but also for their families – to know that “this is the truth and what happened over there.”
On the other hand, warblogging also allows the ones living in war conditions , the locals, to be heard. I read both Salem Pax’s blog, as well as Bagdad Burning , which illustrate the hardship of war on the local people, their perspectives and differences.This is how one of Bagdad’s Burning blod posts starts: “It takes a lot to get the energy and resolution to blog lately. I guess it’s mainly because just thinking about the state of Iraq leaves me drained and depressed. But I had to write tonight”. Warblogs not only describe war, but also touch upon other socio-economic and cultural issues.
In all instances, it is our right to be exposed to different perspectives which overcome the limitations of traditional media, as it is people’s right to raise their voices no matter of their role or position on the war. War is heartbreaking, and its brutality should not be hidden.