Millennials have grown up with terrorism and in recent years there’s been a serious increase in attacks in the media, with England experiencing three attacks in as many months.
There are a lot of factors as to how this is affecting us as a society and a generation, and how we need to adapt.
“I think people are still shocked, obviously it depends on where it happens, for example [the attack on the ice cream store in Baghdad]where a little Australian girl was killed… Most attacks that happen in Iraq and Afghanistan, the two big ones, get very little coverage in Australian or international media,” said Andrew O’Neil, a terror expert from Griffith University.
“I think a lot of the focus however, is about what’s happening at home and that’s understandable because strikes at your home base are going to be more concerning for people,” said Mr O’Neil.
“The bottom line is statistically, Australians are far more likely to be killed by terrorism when they’re travelling overseas and that’s just the reality,” he said.
But terrorism is still something we should be vigilant about.
“ISIS is acting very opportunistically because they’re losing territory in Syria and Iran, they’re thinking they need to keep their brand out in the marketplace of ideas. So, by claiming responsibility for these various attacks they get to keep their group in the minds of people around the world, that includes Western media, Western citizens, including Muslim citizens of those countries,” explained Halim Pane, an Islam expert from Griffith University.
Mr O’Neil explains that the media coverage of terror attacks has become much more intense in the last few decades. Everything is instant now, it’s reported on Twitter immediately.
“Yes, it’s about the media but it’s also about the images conveyed by the terrorist groups themselves. ISIS has been very effective in putting the images of god in people by putting those appalling videos on Youtube of mass executions by atrocities carried out against so-called enemies of the caliphate,” he said.
Psychologist, Daniel Antonius, unpacked some of these ideas in his article on The Conversation, where he discussed PTSD symptoms increasing even in those not directly exposed to the attacks.
“The explanation might be the intense media coverage of terror attacks,” he said.
“I think we should be telling people about what’s going on, children especially, they’re seeing it on the news and hearing about it at school,” said Mr Pane.
“So many things in society attract more deaths than terrorism, but terrorism is publicised in a way that these other causes of death are not,” he said.
“Sadly, terrorist attacks, more than wars, are now claiming visibility in the news headlines in most regions of the world,” said Itzhak Levav in ‘Terrorism and its effects on Mental Health’.
Mr O’Neil agrees that with the intense media coverage we have more of a responsibility to talk it through with our children, but he stresses to keep it in perspective.
“I think there’s a tendency to exaggerate, to inflate the threat, we need to avoid creating a state of existential anxiety,” he said.
So Western society need to be aware of what’s going on, but not exaggerate the issue.
“We’re talking about a different kind of terrorist now, they’re very low-key,” said Mr Pane.
Mr O’Neil explains ISIS is a bit like Al-Qaeda, in that there are a lot of attacks being carried out in the name of ISIS, “was Osama bin Laden sitting in Pakistan orchestrating all those attacks… probably not. And so similarly, the idea that the ISIS leadership are planning all these attacks… it’s a bit far-fetched.”
“It’s about perspective, it’s about trying to keep perspective on the nature and frequency of the attacks. Most of the attacks have not been mass casualty attacks, they’ve been unpredictable but they haven’t been largescale,” said Mr O’Neil.