With the death of Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi on Oct. 20, international politics changed greatly. In charge since 1969, Gaddafi’s presence was felt worldwide with his outlandish leadership style and disregard for the scorn of the international community. Those in Libya are grateful for the coming change in leadership, as are many around the world. While I do not believe it is right to be happy for the death of any person, certainly Gaddafi was a source of evil.
What shocked me most about the coverage of Gaddafi’s death was the prevalence of first-hand accounts of his last moments. In our digital age, anybody with a cell phone or other technology can quickly document events. This will completely change the sources where history stems from in the future. History will be much more first-hand and opinionated.
Numerous YouTube videos emerged of Gaddafi’s nearly lifeless body being jarred by Libyan civilians. One video even showed civilians cheering around his dead body. The videos, which are quite graphic, say something about our modern society.
Perhaps we have become too accustomed to violence. This may be because we are merely interacting with a screen when we see such a video, but this detracts from the true situation. Reality is not digital. Reality is stuffed with humanity, which we fail to recognize by becoming desensitized to interactions with non-human objects.
As a society, we must evaluate what crosses the boundaries. With the prevalence of technology, privacy is becoming a comfort of the past. To what extent can we permit this? I believe that degradation of privacy is taking away from the value of each person.
Gaddafi certainly committed heinous crimes against his own people and others, but do his final moments deserve to be broadcast to the world amidst cheers?
These are questions that our society must answer as technology increasingly becomes a part of our lives. I would argue that while the ability of technology to provide openness is absolutely important, we as a society cannot forget the humanity behind these and all situations.
Paul Levy is a freshman majoring in physics.