Are you on Facebook? If you are, then you have probably received, been tagged in, or seen various pictures presenting a story about how the one or the other is a bad person, a hypocrite, or something else. Maybe you have seen pictures picturing two persons next to each other, in two different situations, attempting to show the one in a good light and the other in a bad light.
Take this picture, which I saw today, of the Indian and the Thai PM, presenting a narrative of the Indian PM as lazy and above his people, while the Thai PM is on the ground with her people.
I’m tired of these kinds of pictures. It is said that a picture say more than a thousand words, and it is true, but rarely do we consider which thousand words they are forced to tell us. Rarely do we question the author’s motive when we see the pictures. Rarely do we get the full picture, when we see these pictures of this or that situation, or this or that person.
Take a look at the picture above again. What do you indeed see? You basically see a picture of the Indian PM on his way somewhere, destination unknown for us. He’s sitting looking out of the window, either contemplative over what he sees or deep in his thoughts. Maybe he indeed is very worried about the flood. But he’s not being presented that way, rather he is being presented as one sitting well and travelling well, compared to the Thai PM, who is standing in the muddy water with the people suffering from the flood. But what do we know of her and her methods of getting there? Nothing, we just know that she is there. But in all truth, for all that we know the two could be in the same positions when travelling and being there. We don’t know how she travelled there, maybe she flew the same way as the Indian PM or even better? And maybe he will also stand in the muddy water with his people upon arrival.
This is just one example on how pictures are being manipulated to tell you more than thousands words of the creators narrative. I don’t know whether the Indian PM really is a selfish bastard or whether the Thai PM is a self-sacrificing saint, but the picture here attempting to portray it that way is manipulating.
More and more I lose my trust in pictures and the people presenting them as “truth.” There is simply too many examples on how pictures have been manipulated, presented with a fake narrative, or simply been used in a totally different story, as recently where BBC used a picture taken in Iraq in 2003 to tell a story about a massacre in Syria in 2012.
Be critical when people want you to by a story through pictures. In general, be critical.