Selective Attention

If you go on any social media platform, you’ll probably see at least one person with #freehongkong in their post. 

The Hong Kong protests are so widely watched and widely supported people of many ideologies and backgrounds are coming together in solidarity to support Hong Kong. Organizations such as the NBA and major brands such as Fortnite are actively putting out their support for Hong Kong and ensuring they will protect free speech, even if that means losing a major player like China. 

The protests are important, that’s a fact, but there are also tons of other protests going on in the world right now. Catalonia is up in arms protesting for independence, Haiti is protesting for the Prime Minister to resign and France has been in protest of some form or another since Macron’s election. 

According to Business Insider, there are at least 13 different large scale protests going on in the world right now. But you never hear about them in the news. You only learn about Hong Kong. You go to any international media websites and you may see coverage on protests other than Hong Kong, but the majority of the time it’s Hong Kong that’s the issue people focus on. 

While mentioning the scale of the Hong Kong protest, the Hong Kong protest is on the largest scale by far, not mentioning the others ignores the political struggles seen around the world. This undermines any other conversation we could be having on any other protest. The issue is that we only mention Hong Kong when it comes to protests going on across the world. Few mention Catalonia, Haiti or France. Few see the recurring protests in places like Egypt or Iran as anything new. There are more protests going on now at the same time then there ever has. 

The underlying fact here however is what Hong Kong represents to the United States. America has always had a very unique relationship with China, especially in recent years. China is the home of cheap labor and is one of if not the biggest market in the world. We have heavy trade ties with China, but America has always disagreed with the way China operates from a political perspective. 

America is the home of the freedom to choose. The government doesn’t overregulate the media or how many kids you can have, but they do in China. This underlying split has always made China this unique ally. But Hong Kong strived to be a Capitalist utopia in China. Hong Kong was freedom incarnate. America supports Hong Kong for this reason, and 2 million people stand up and fight for ensuring that freedom Americans care. The news then hops on the topic and the public turns its eyes towards Hong Kong. But in the end, like so many issues plaguing us today, the American public fails to see the full scope. 

This goes to show that as a society we do receive most of our education from social media. The fact that someone only knows what’s going on in Hong Kong and they have never heard of what’s going on across the world is the tipping point. Being selective about issues is okay, it’s how our minds work, but being selective without knowledge is irresponsible. 

Voicing an opinion in solidarity with an issue just because people you follow on Twitter do so is ignorant. Don’t let your friends or the people online select what you want to care about. If you have family in Haiti, focus on that. If you have a friend in Catalonia, learn more about what’s going on there. Someone shouldn’t be telling you what to care about, you should be choosing what you care about. So look into the protests going on across the world and see which one resonates with you and follow that one. But be sure to know about them all because being aware is a lot more powerful than being oblivious.

 Be a global citizen who cares about what people are fighting for, not a global citizen who is force fed what they should care for.

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