The Difference In Attention Between Notre-Dame And Sri Lanka Highlights The Issue We Have With Selective Grief

This is nothing new, sadly.<br />

The last couple of weeks have seen a couple of events that really shook the world. First Notre-Dame caught fire on April 15 and 900 years or so of history nearly went up in flames. However, that paled in comparison to the tragedy that unfolded the following week on Easter Sunday when a series of bombings occurred in Christian churches across Sri Lanka, leaving hundreds dead and several hundreds more wounded.

With such disparity between the two events – one was literally just a building and the others involved the death of hundreds – you’d think that a majority of the attention would be focused on the Sri Lanka tragedy rather than Notre-Dame. Sadly that’s not the case.

Between the millions upon millions being pledged to rebuild Notre-Dame to the many hoaxes and opinion pieces about the cathedral, the building got the lion’s share of the world’s attention while Sri Lanka got barely anything by comparison. In fact, Al Jazeera reported that Google searches for Notre-Dame outnumbered Sri Lanka 7 to 1, especially within the Western hemisphere.

The disproportionate amount of attention to a building compared to actual human life is completely insane and this highlights is a problem the world has with selective grief and how we all are guilty of it.

Yes. Yes it is.

Now that’s not to say that the Western media didn’t cover the Sri Lanka bombings. But compared to Notre-Dame, it was like a drop of water in the ocean. Whereas people shared posts about the cathedral and bathed their social media in the colours of France, virtually none of that happened when Sri Lanka went up in an explosion.

Selective grief isn’t anything new and near-identical cases have all occurred very recently, such as the 2015 attacks on Paris and Beirut, and the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and Nigeria. People like to tout about living in a globalised world and human lives being equal everywhere, but this notion is just a mere illusion.

Whether its race, religious, how we were all raised, or various other reasons, an argument can be made that the West only really cares about what goes on in the west because it’s “ours” and same goes for those in the East. People relate to what is familiar to them and this results in lopsided coverage of events. Look up Australia’s coverage of Sri Lanka and a good portion of the stories you’ll find revolve around the Australians who were killed rather than the bombings as a collective whole. That’s not to say that this is bad, it just shows that we’re conditioned to look after our own first before worrying about everyone or anything else.

If you truly cared about people equally, then shouldn’t you be putting up the Sri Lankan flag on your Facebook profile rather than the French flag? Shouldn’t you give a shout-out to the hundreds of casualties rather than a 900-year-old building? Wouldn’t all that money for Notre-Dame be better served helping those in Sri Lanka?

But are we though?

This also isn’t to say that you should be criticised for grieving Notre-Dame instead of Sri Lanka. It’s not as simple as a maths exam where there are right and wrong answers. Grief is personal and something everyone goes through differently. Someone might’ve visited Notre-Dame several times before but not Sri Lanka, hence why they would tweet something about the cathedral rather than the bombings.

But what it does mean is that we’re all hypocritical of selective grief. We mourn those who we want to mourn, and we ignore those who we want to ignore. If we were to be a truly globalised world, then everyone should’ve been focused on what happened in Sri Lanka rather than Notre-Dame.

But what those two events highlighted was humanity’s own hypocrisy and how far we need to go when it comes to truly showing solidarity with your fellow human beings instead of, you know, a literal building.

We Don't Need Your Conspiracy Theories About Notre-Dame, Thanks

What is it about conspiracies that make people disregard common sense?

Nearly 900 years of history and culture went up in flames on April 15 when the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris caught fire, and needless to say that the subsequent 24 or so hours afterwards have been a bit emotional.

There has been an outpouring of support as many people have pledged to give what ever aid they can (some in the form of writing a check for many millions) in helping to restore Notre-Dame, including billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault (aka Salma Hayek’s husband) and France’s richest man, Bernard Arnault.

But in the midst of all the love that’s being shown for Paris, there’s also been deluge of conspiracy theories claiming that the Notre-Dame fire is a hoax.


While no official cause for the fire has been named yet, it is reported that investigators are treating it as an accident, However, this hasn’t stopped hoaxes, conspiracies, actual fake news, and disinformation campaigns from quickly spreading across the internet.

Now we don’t condone that sort of stuff here at GOAT but for the purposes of keeping everyone informed on what to keep an eye out for regarding all the hoaxes going around, here are just some of the most ridiculous theories and fake news articles going around regarding the fire:

  • InfoWars (ugh) claiming the fire was deliberately started
  • Far-righters stoking anger by claiming all the people who responded to videos of the fire with “smiley faces” are Arabic
  • A fake CNN account claiming the fire was an act of terrorism
  • People trying to link an unrelated 2016 event to the fire
  • People sharing a fake video around of someone shouting “allahu akbar” while Notre-Dame was burning

It’s honestly quite ridiculous that something like this is even happening and it brings up a very important question that we must ask: what is it about conspiracies that make people disregard common sense?

A little is an understatement.

Plenty of studies have gone into just how people get hooked on hoaxes and the lovely folk over at The Conversation have put it all together in a nice little article (which you can read right here).

To sum it all up very quickly, people are suckered into believing conspiracy theories due to:

  • People being annoyingly stubborn in their beliefs and their caveman instinct of imposing structure to things they don’t quite understand (hence the obsession with patterns)
  • Peer pressure because people wanna look cool and stuff to their friends
  • Getting facts and myths mixed up, especially when reading things that attempt to debunk myths

No, there isn’t. There just isn’t.

There’s a worrying trend of ridiculous hoaxes coming up whenever a major world event happens and it is something that needs to be nipped in the bud right now. Notre-Dame going up in flames was just an awful sight and what we need right now is sympathy and empathy, not disinformation and fake news.

So to all those pushing idiotic conspiracies and hoaxes about the fire, keep it to yourselves and go back into your basement. Those are not welcome here or anywhere, thanks.

Malcolm Turnbull Spent $250k Of Our Taxpayer Money On Social Media Stuff Last Year And Disappointingly, Not A Cent Was Used On Animal Memes

Only one Facebook post from 2017 had a dog in it. One!

With the rapid rise of platforms of Twitter and Facebook over the last few years, politicians have been forced to shift their attention towards upping their social media game, sometimes to the detriment of everyone on earth (*cough* Donald Trump).

Our previous PM, Malcolm Turnbull, was admittedly pretty handy with his socmed game as he was pretty good with sharing consistent tweets and FB updates. He may not be the most revered PM in Australia’s history but at least the man knew how to take a selfie.

But much like his run as PM, Turnbull’s social media game is actually not all that cracked up to be and the Australian people ended up paying the price for it. Literally.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Turnbull spent $246,000 of taxpayer money over the last year for expenses billed as “e-materials”, which in this context means things like website costs, social media ads, electronic surveys, and production of online content such as videos.

It’s a lot of money but ol’ Malc was perfectly entitled to spend that much moolah on tweets and FB posts. During the 2017-2018 financial year, MPs were allowed to spend up to $134k on “office expenses” and were entitled to spend $1 on every enrolled voter in their electorate. With Turnbull’s Wentworth electorate logging in at around 102k registered voters, that gives him an extra $100k or so to spend.

Comparing Turnbull’s “e-materials” bill to other MPs, he is by far the biggest spender. Next on the list is Kim Carr, who spent “only” $107k, followed by Barry O’Sullivan, who burned through $105k. In fact, the average MP expenditure in this area was only around the $5000 range.

Interestingly, Tony Abbott spent just $446 during the exact same May 2017 to June 2018 period that Turnbull spent $246k. Make of that what you will.

In terms of bang for his buck, Turnbull’s social media strategy didn’t seem to work despite all those taxpayer dollars since he, you know, got booted as PM by Australia’s new daggy dad, Scott Morrison.

Even more disappointingly than spending that much money is the fact that not a single cent was spent on any animal memes. In fact, out of all the FB posts he shared over the past year, only one had a dog in it. One!

Meet Alpha. He's a firearms & explosive detection dog with the Australian Federal Police. He was a very welcome (and protective) visitor this morning for 'take your dog to work day'.

Posted by Malcolm Turnbull on Friday, 23 June 2017

Turnbull didn’t leave behind the best – or any – legacy as PM, but not spending a single cent of that $246k on any meaningful was a big missed opportunity to claw back some brownie points with the Australian people.

Instead of sharing selfies of himself, perhaps he should’ve invested more time familiarising himself with wholesome cat content instead. It wouldn’t have hurt his tenure as PM any more than what he did with his non-animal social media game that’s for sure.

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