Last week there was a mass shooting on a college campus in Garissa, Kenya. Despite the magnitude of the tragedy, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of posts on my newsfeed that were talking about what happened. There were few people in my social networks that were “virtually” standing in solidarity with the 148 students who were murdered at Garissa University College*. No “Je suis Kenya” posts in sight. Few statuses expressing condolence for the horrific loss that hundreds of families in Kenya are enduring.

I realize social media should not by any means be the only news source to rely on if you want to be an informed global citizen. Nor should it be the only platform to express your thoughts and views on global events. However, in this day and age, social media does play a huge role in talking about what is trending in the world and I was confused that I was seeing very little discussion about the tragedy that occurred in Kenya.

Here is a brief summary of what happened according to a New York Times article published on Thursday April 2:

Nairobi, Kenya - Somali militants burst into a university in eastern Kenya on Thursday and killed nearly 150 students in the worst terrorist attack since the 1998 bombing of the United States Embassy here, laying bare the nation’s continuing vulnerability after years of battling Islamist extremism. 

A small group of militants, most likely between four and 10, roved from dorm to dorm, separating Christian from Muslim students and killing the Christians, the authorities said. Students described being awakened before dawn by the sound of gunfire and fleeing for their lives as masked attackers closed in.

Aside from a CNN breaking news notification on my phone, I hadn’t really heard about what happened until I met up with a friend on Saturday who asked me if I could believe the awful news. As soon as I got home, I started to look around the web and noticed the silence about the shooting was pretty loud. Scrolling through my feed, I saw a few posts here and there. Mostly from friends of mine who I’d met while spending  a summer in Nairobi when I was 16. I also saw a post from a former classmate that really struck me. It was a graphic photo of bodies laying on the school grounds with a question asking “Why was there no march by world leaders in Nairobi or Garissa?? A vicious massacre of university students took place in Kenya a few days ago and our own African leaders are silent as death.”

While I don’t think comparing tragedies is productive in any way, I had to ask myself, why is  there so little being said about the shooting in Kenya? For the most part, whenever a tragedy occurs, I usually see a flood of posts on the various social networks that I follow. Through the silence that I am still noticing today, a lot of questions have been running through my mind. Is it because it’s difficult to empathize when a tragedy happens so far from home? Does it have to do with the fact that there is so much sad news going on every day in the world that no one is really phased by this kind of horror anymore? If the mainstream media is ignoring an issue, does it not make its way to public discourse? Have we become desensitized and conditioned to expect these kinds of tragedies in Africa (even though these tragedies in no way are a true reflection of life across the continent)? I don’t really have the answers to these questions, but was wondering what all of you global citizens out there are thinking.

Sending my love and prayers to all of those affected by the tragedy in Kenya, and to all people around the world that face violence, ignorance and hate every day.  

*Updated on 4/8/15 at 10:30 AM EST


Demand Equity

Why is there barely anything on my newsfeed about the Kenya school massacre?

By Natalie Prolman