EVENTS unfolding in the Middle East this week have been unbearable to watch, particularly when we as individuals have limited power to change the course of them bar writing to politicians who barely respond. 

The actions of Hamas against Israeli civilians were abhorrent, and have rightfully been internationally condemned.

What that doesn’t mean however is that the actions of Israel against Palestinian civilians are justified or can be hidden behind their reasonable right to defend themselves as per international law.

A reasonably uncontroversial standpoint, not difficult to comprehend. You would hope. 

In the age of social media activism, particularly when main platforms are being run into the ground by billionaire adult-children, disinformation is rife – and it’s proving to be more expensive for Palestinians in this scenario. 

As goes the selectivism that online activism is best known for – some tragedies are deemed worthy of viral outrage, some are not.

Things are shared so frivolously – especially by ill-informed celebrities and influencers who are notorious for sharing performative activism as and when it’s demanded of them – without any critical analysis of its content. Or indeed, the education and often complex levels of understanding that would be required for them to be deemed a credible source.

The consequence is that millions of users are then exposed to, and are then free to share, disinformation on their own platforms. And Instagram outrage culture lives to see another day. 

READ MORE: Israel Hamas war: Palestinians and Israelis have own victim narratives

Kylie Jenner, the most followed woman on Instagram, shared and then subsequently deleted a post on the matter, pointing to the likelihood that she shared it without really understanding what she was sharing. But at the click of a button, gave access to that information to her 399 million followers.

Or Erin Foster, who boasts a following of 614,000 people, and who posted confidently that the occupation of Palestine was a myth before deleting it. 

I have followed both women for years; neither within that time have been prominent activists on the complex geopolitics of the Middle East. Which tells me that their new-found activism is based purely on the emotion likely triggered by a Canva infographic that appeared on their own social media feeds. Neither can be pegged as a legitimate source of information on the issue.

It didn’t stop them from taking it upon themselves anyway and therein lies the problem.

Because both women will be a credible source to those that take their word at face value – whether that is the reality or not.  It’s a disinformation tragedy, that is not feared nearly enough and it feels particularly jarring when it rears its ugly head at times when lives depend on it.

The lives of a million children no less. 

I have written before about outrage culture online, what it feeds and how easy it is to jump on an issue without engaging in critical thought. The events of the last week are a prime example. 

Of course, the atrocities we witnessed in Israel are bound to evoke outrage, condemnation and a range of deeply difficult emotions. Social media has desensitised us as human beings to many things but god forbid we ever reach a point of jadedness that we will witness such horror and not feel compelled to speak against it.

But one thing it has seemingly successfully managed to do is entrap that natural outrage neatly into a one-dimensional box. 

According to prevailing narratives this week we must not speak of Palestinian suffering, as though it takes away from Israeli suffering. It is insensitive to speak of the context around instability in the region; as if we are incapable of fathoming why atrocities like this happen and what breeds them. Or that two truths can be comprehended at once. Even though, without that context, we will never seriously be able to establish a meaningful peace process.

That’s the thing with Instagram activism, it’s all aesthetic outrage, and no tangible solution. 

Our rage is to be reserved solely for Israel in this moment, despite the very necessary context that as we speak, more than two million civilians in Gaza are trapped under heavy bombardment, with no access to water, electricity, food or humanitarian aid of any kind. An eye for an eye leaving the whole world blind in real-time.

The conflation of Hamas and Palestine is being used as a tool to dehumanise Palestinian civilians and justify their brutalisation and ill-informed online aesthetic outrage activism is doing the heavy lifting.

Even global leaders are not immune to this widespread simplification of extreme complexity.

I have watched Joe Biden take to the lectern on multiple occasions over the last few days to speak passionately about how he stands against terrorism whilst in the same breath confirming that he will arm Israel to the teeth with weaponry that will be used to flatten hospitals, schools and refugee camps to the ground in Palestine.

The cognitive dissonance an attestation to the increasingly one-dimensional nature of our response to global events – and our transparent tendency to value some lives more than others.  The ever-tolerant and infamously level-headed Suella Braverman MP has gone as far as to suggest that waving a Palestinian flag may be akin to supporting terrorism. Our brains have truly gone to mush.

It is not lost on me that at such a crucial moment, some of the worst and least capable leaders in world history are at the helm of decision making, and needless violence will inevitably prevail as a result. 

Collective punishment is a war crime and the complete siege of the Gaza Strip by the Israelis is no less a terror event or atrocity than that which took place in Israel over the weekend.

It should not be controversial to make this point and arguably speaking against the Hamas terror whilst simultaneously failing to denounce Israeli terror ensures the continuation of the violence that we are apparently so vehemently against.

Is it that social media activism has collectively corroded our ability to engage in critical thought? Or is it that Palestinian lives are purposefully being valued as less than others?

I’d argue that both are at play, and that the former gives rise to and enables the latter – whether intentional or unintentional. 

The unbearable consequence of it all? Palestinian children will die as the world sits back, likes, shares, reposts and – worst of all – watches on with impunity.