Exploring the world of social media

WEEKLY #10: From the Front Line to Front-of-Mind

I really found this week’s blog assignment to be fascinating. In so many ways, war is this distant thing that exists not as something I don’t want to think about, but more so as something beyond my imagination.

Reading through the accounts of different soldiers  only really made me want to read more. I was moved by how dedicated many of them are, even while they don’t fully agree with the war itself. I was equally disgusted when learning about soldiers who abused their power and maliciously targeted innocents. I was particularly struck by Andy Olmsted’s blog. Having myself witnessed death in a very real way, I was struck by how someone can take on a profession that they know bears such great risks to their life. And the thought of dealing with that as a person in their early-20’s or even late-teens is even harder to comprehend.

I think one of the reasons why I found this topic to be so interesting is the fact that in the past year, I’ve developed close relationships with a number of people who were formally Marines or served in other branches of the military. I’ve always been intrigued about their experiences and reflect on how those experiences affect their personalities, passions, and attitudes. As I watched different videos online, I pictured these friends in the different scenes. I pictured them behind M-16s. I pictured them passing time in the desert of Iraq or in camp.

Talking to these friends led me to not only look at social media about the war, but to also look at social media that reflects military culture. My friends introduced me to a video from Marine boot camp and a Facebook page set up for Marines to reminisce about their first year in the service. The page has more than 13,000 fans. (Disclaimer: the Facebook page tends not to reflect what anyone would consider P.C. commentary. Just another element of Marine culture, I guess).

I found the various social media sites online to be pretty powerful and effective in painting a picture of war. The pictures weren’t always pretty, but ultimately, I think that talking about war online is a good thing. It gives those of us who are at home a better appreciation for the dynamics of war, the lack of an ever-present black and white, and the courage of our soldiers.


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