ISIS infiltrates social media; creates fear among U.S. citizens

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

TAYLOR MUNSELL, Channels Staff

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In America, we use social media for sharing photos, making dates and shopping. About 7,000 miles across the world, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria uses it as a mode of recruitment while sharing bloody videos of decapitation and beheading of innocent victims.

It’s astounding. Virtually the same mediums are being used in completely different ways. Perhaps that’s why America has felt so compelled to stop them, as they continue to contaminate our social outlet with unfathomable, stomach-turning blood and gore.

The Islamic State sets itself apart by dangling its brutality over the world as a threat, almost like they’re showing off. This appalling footage of decapitations and burnings has left the world exactly where these extremists want them to be, in fear.

The publication of such torture by the media has given them the power to attract 20,000 foreign fighters from 90 countries to travel to Syria to join the faction. The group of fighters includes 150 U.S. citizens, according to ABC News.

So, while much of the world is in utter disgust over what the Islamic State is doing, there are still people that want to join the fight. Why?

According to Frida Ghitis, a columnist for CNN, “cruelty communicates fearlessness, and fearlessness coupled with battlefield success, is an irresistible draw.” Ghitis suggests that brutality is their method, and it makes sense.

People are often attracted to what they fear, because it’s a way for them to conquer that fear and eliminate it all together.

The anger and outrage we all feel as we see these horrific graphics is exactly what terrorists want us to feel. They understand that with this outrage will come the motivation to go overseas and stop them. Social media is their way of saying, “come and get it.”

The Social Cognitive Theory proposes the idea that “media influences link participants to social networks and community settings that provide natural incentives and continued personalized guidance for desired change.” Large amounts of media exposure can instill certain ideas in consumers. In the case of the Islamic State, the broadcasting of their violent videos shocks viewers and drives them to put an end to this atrocity.

The media has most definitely done its job for them. Without the constant media circus, terrorists like these wouldn’t quite have the image of fear and torture that it does today.

Even being halfway across the world, Americans are frightened. According to CNN, there is little reason to believe they are a real threat to the United States, yet the paranoia is there.

The media has truly been the source of fear for Americans. With so many videos of decapitations, beheadings, and other torturous actions, all of which we have access to with today’s technology, terrorists like these are portrayed as a brutality powerhouse relentlessly killing whoever steps in it’s path.

However, it’s our fear that we must conceal. It’s what gives them power.

They are happy we’re scared.