There is a persistent belief in the power of media images to transform the events they depict. Yet despite the instant availability of billions of images of human suffering and death in the continuous and connective digital glare of social media, the catastrophes of contemporary wars, such as in Syria and Yemen, unfold relentlessly. This article considers today's loosening of the often presumed relationship between media representation, knowledge and response under the conditions of “digital war”. The author contends that the saturation of information and images of human suffering and death in contemporary warfare has not ushered in a new era of “compassion fatigue”. Rather, algorithmically charged outrage is a proxy for effects. It is easy to misconstrue the velocity of linking and liking and sharing as some kind of mass action or mass movement. Humanitarian catastrophes slowly unfold in an age of continuous and connective digital glare, and yet they are unseen.
By entering this website, you consent to the use of technologies, such as cookies and analytics, to customise content, advertising and provide social media features. This will be used to analyse traffic to the website, allowing us to understand visitor preferences and improving our services. Learn more