THE BLOG

Aleppo: The Hidden War Is Not Hiding With Tech

09/02/2017 16:42
Antiv3D via Getty Images

Those that know me know I'm a little, well, emotional. I'm a modern day chap who's not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve and show empathy.

It's been on the rise since I've had kids, to the extent the right Andrex advert will get me to shed a tear. But that's the tip of the iceberg with what we have to watch every day at the moment, with social and news feeds around the world full of emotionally driven content.

So as I mentioned I'm late writing this and the excuse is, every moment I have sat down to do so there is yet another shocking report on the news about either the crisis in Syria or a terrorist attack in Europe that has taken my attention (or this week it's Trumps vast swathe attack on peoples free will).

One Sunday night during the holiday period I sat down with my wife after the kids were in bed, put on our latest boxset (Man in the High Castle season 2 at the time) and started looking at our phones (who says romance is dead). This was fine up until I clicked onto the videos in my Facebook feed reporting the bombings in Aleppo.

Within minutes I was in tears, it was over the footage of a teenager holding his one-month old baby brother who had suffocated when their apartment building was bombed and collapsed on top of them. The rest of his family was dead, all his relatives were dead, and this boy was stood shuddering in a corridor of a bombed out hospital clutching his poor lifeless brother, as if that would make him come back to life. Despite the efforts of others around him he wouldn't let go of his baby brother.

These distressing scenes along with the scenes of mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, grandparents, clutching onto babies and children, all dead, got to me. So much so I had to turn off my phone and the boxset and Mrs B had to calm me down before the rush of emotion burst my heart.

Now I don't write the above to distress you, nor do I encourage you to go and watch these videos, we all know about the humanitarian crises happening across the world and this is where the thought for my article this month has come from.

Human, animal, plant (though to be quite frank plants don't really register when confronted with the above) suffering isn't new. Bombs aren't new, wars aren't new and death of innocent people on a vast scale isn't new. But never before have we ever had so much free access and contact with the actions that are happening in the world today.

As someone who adores new technology I'm not sure whether to be impressed or appalled by this new generation of 'live' carnage. I feel near helpless sat on a comfy couch, in a leafy green part of London, yet as a generation we have never been so empowered by the tools handed to us 'millennials'. But we are not helpless. We can all collectively help and fight what is happening in the world right now and each and everyone has a voice or an action and can make a difference.

We can make a difference by;
a) Not just 'sad face' reacting to an article or post and forget: a better route is to hit share and comment on why we should take action and more over what action YOU are going to take and you encourage your network to take as well, this tactic actually works, as no one takes more notice of you than your social network.
b) Do donate: money is great but if you don't have any to spare, clothes, food, and your time are all things that are needed. I made a donation to Save the Children after researching who was the best charity and would make sure it got to those that needed.

Now you might be thinking OK, what has this got to do with tech? Well, what hasn't it got to do with tech?

Had I not seen a live stream of footage I wouldn't be writing this, and that's a pretty impressive feat, don't you think? As we go into 2017 and start looking at new technology that will take us forward it's important to remember the foundations that it is being built upon.

This live stream was taken by someone there, on the ground, using their phone, in their hand. They used an app to take 30 photos a second, that app quickly compressed the hundreds of photos and rendered them into a video. That video then got transmitted to a 4G phone mast from there it was passed to a satellite in outer space and then back down to Channel 4 News who pushed it to server in California and then they sent it back to London for me to see on my phone, in my hand, in my living room.

It was research online that led me to Save the Children, an online transaction that took my funds and it will be an international digital transfer that gets it to the right place.

I will never be able to bring back that 1-month old baby and its unlikely that in my lifetime I will live a day where there isn't some atrocity or injustice happening somewhere in the world. But I can make a difference and I can do so harnessing the power of tech to educate myself, to take action and to share with others.

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