How Social Media Made An Impact (When the Mainstream Media Didn’t)

“Six weeks ago, I cried tears of joy at my baby brother’s wedding. Today, we are crying tears of unimaginable pain over the execution style murders of my brother, Deah, his bride, Yusor, and her younger sister and best friend, Razan. Deah, 23, a second year dental student at UNC, was well known for his all-embracing kindness, lightheartedness, dedication to community service, love for basketball, and anything stuffed-curry. Yusor, 21, who was on track to join him at UNC dental in the fall, matched his gentle demeanor, had a calming presence, and she and Deah found in one another a kindred spirit. Razan, at only 19, was tremendously gifted studying architecture, incredibly creative, giving, generous, and a loyal friend. They were gems of their communities, and left a lasting impression on the people around them. They inspired us. They served as role models to the youth. We ask that you celebrate the lives of our family members. We are still in a state of shock, and we will never be able to make sense of this horrendous tragedy. We appreciate your concerns and outpour of love and support, from our neighbors, student community, and the community at large. We ask that authorities investigate these senseless and heinous murders as a hate crime.” – Suzanne Barakat



Suzanne Barakat, older sister of Deah Barakat, gave a chilling speech regarding the three murders of her loved ones. She gave her speech on Feb. 11, 2015, one day after the shooting. Her words were filled with maturity and love. Although the shooting took place more than a month ago, let’s remember the lives of the three victims as full.

Sometimes, I understand, the problem is bigger than one event that may occur. Sometimes, the issue is not about a parking spot. Sometimes, the implications are unclear and unspoken because they are not in black and white for everyone to notice.

Sometimes, people are killed, but the second we move on, there is another killing. How many people have to die before we realize there is a serious issue we need to address as a society?

Craig Hicks is a suspect for the murders of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, that occurred on Feb. 10, 2015. From one side of the argument, Hicks’ rage came from a parking dispute. However, when a shooting that involves the execution of three active, young adults takes place, society cannot ignore the surrounding accusations.

It is a police officer’s duty to rightfully arrest, and the jury’s duty to rightfully indict. However, even if a decision is made that the majority can agree on, the problem does not end. Some of us are still blind to the problem that started it all.

It was before the indictment, before the arrest, even before the shooting. As a society, it is our duty to learn about each other and become comfortable with the infinite amount of cultures and religions that surround us. Hate and racism are still alive and thriving, some in more areas than others, and that is not going to change with a few arrests. We need to change in unison and realize that there are larger problems that we must address.

Where is the line between killer and terrorist? Why don’t we see Hicks the same way we see Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s, the suspect who is currently on trial for the Boston Marathon bombings? They both instilled fear into American citizens, (Bostonians and Muslims respectively.) Of course, the situations are different – the number of casualties differ, as well as the reason that the murders even happened.

Would the situation be different if Hicks was a Muslim American instead of a white American? Would his injustices be deemed a terrorist act without considering that this is just another act of violence?

If the media’s wrongdoing is still unclear, take airplane crashes for example. The first question is always: did the crash occur because of an accident, or was there criminal intent involved? If there was criminal intent involved, the second question depends on the culprit’s race. If he is white, the media has to determine what mental illness he has. If he is Muslim, the media does not have to determine anything, but rather assume that it was a terrorist attack.

Refer to Image 1 and Image 2.

Image 1: A google search of Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525.
Image 2: A google search of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which Zaharie Ahmad Shah piloted.


The main problem does not even lie with the actual shooting. It happened, and now we have to trust our justice system to rightfully send Hicks to jail. It is the coverage in the media, or lack thereof, that is the problem.

When the media does a terrible job in covering these shootings, we, as a society, are still evading the overarching issue. When the media does a terrible job in covering the shooting, people don’t think it is important. The media should not be the only ones dictating what events are worth talking about.

Don’t get me wrong: the media is useful in many ways. By using it, we can stay updated with what’s going on in our world. However, there are still many flaws to the media including how it is affected by bias, and more importantly, as I stated earlier, how people rely on it to get news.

Because of the lack of representation in the media, the audience rarely gets the full spectrum of any news story, meaning multiple perspectives. In several media outlets, the Chapel Hill shooting is presented just like any other shooting, which would be fine, except this is not any other shooting.

There is no doubt that people are tainted with Islamophobia in America, which makes the deaths of the young adults seem insignificant. Islamophobia has instilled fear within Muslim Americans, yet nothing is being done about it. The media is making the situation worse by somehow dehumanizing Muslims, and putting them in a lesser category. The question remains: why did the media evade mass coverage of the shooting?

Stories were aired on television and published in major newspapers much later than the actual shooting occurred. Because of the lack of coverage, people from all over worked together to share the story through various social media accounts, including twitter. #MuslimLivesMatters became a huge trend the night of the shooting because apparently major media outlets did not think so.

How uncanny is it to wake up and learn about three devastating deaths through social media instead of through television? In hindsight, twitter did a much better job informing people about the deaths, (as well as the lives), of the three victims. They were all charitable and hardworking, and always ready to help people.

Let us band together and forget about the media’s horrible job at covering the loss at Chapel Hill, but rather celebrate the Internet’s reaction. Social media was able to bring this story out of the weeds and into the eyes of millions of people.

Let us keep the story of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha alive. There is no better army than the one that merges for the same cause.

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