The role of mass media in our societies is difficult to overestimate. It shapes our way of thinking in a subtle manner. We may even use a quite trite analogy: it is like air; we breathe it, but we cannot see it. It takes part in forming our world view and attitude. Even if we did not notice and think about it before, now, just talking to the people in east of Ukraine, we can clearly see what kind of news a person watches, and if they do at all. This is true not only in Ukraine. However, the degree of control over mass media, and since minds of people who watch it can differ.
The problem I have faced in my home city was the way people do not question the information they are given. And what is more, they accept and defend an opinion they have just watched in the evening news as their own nurtured idea. People can become influenced even not watching any specific news channel; social networks do the job цудд. Thoughtless ‘sharing’ spreads information with the speed of sound.
What does it have to do with the topic of our project ‘Minorities in Mass Media’? People are so caught up in their prejudices that they heard from mass media and social networks, that there is no chance for them simply to go and check, whether they are true. Especially due to the latest events that shook and terrified the whole world. Mass media can make us afraid and distrustful, which renders the further contact with people impossible.
This is the mission of the Dehnungsfuge. To go to those, who will not make a move, and make them meet. Everything after that comes naturally. When people of goodwill come together, there is no way they will not communicate and make friendships. That is what I have experienced in this eye-opening project. What is even more interesting that even though I was born and raised in Kharkiv, it was the team from Dehnungsfuge that showed me the hidden history of my home city by visiting a community of Karaits.
The necessity of this project may not seem obvious for some. Nevertheless, we should never underestimate the power of personal knowledge. It is true, that people determine what is written in press, but it works the other way round as well. Mass media can become a weapon of mass manipulation. For example, the level of control of Soviet state over people’s minds was absolute, which is characteristic for every totalitarian regime. And the tragedy of Crimean Tatar is a glaring example of how a peaceful nation can be proclaimed a public enemy overnight. Who knows if anything could be changed if people had another source of information, or personal knowledge. We cannot change the past, but we can try to make people more open-minded, especially in such a critical period of our history. We should make mass media a way to bring people together by finding a point of contact, instead of emphasizing divergences. And our hope is, that Dehnungfuge can be that seam for consolidating our differences.