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Why did the death of little Rayan in Morocco move the world so much?

Why did the death of little Rayan in Morocco move the world so much?

Last week the world held its breath for six days following the rescue of a little boy who fell down a well in Morocco. Five-year-old Rayan had fallen 32 meters into this hole that was too narrow to pick him up. As rescuers raced against time to dig a trench and reach the little victim, the excitement caused by this accident grew and crossed Moroccan borders. The whole world ended up having its eyes riveted on the village of Ighrane (northern Morocco), the emotion reaching its peak on Sunday when the rescuers extracted the body of Rayan, but too late. Deciphering an emotion that has become global.

Why did the “Rescue of Rayan” move beyond Moroccan borders?

The dissemination of information was done in a fairly traditional way: by the local media first, whose articles were taken up and by the population who visited the site. “The accident was strongly relayed via social networks which constitute a new and very influential way of obtaining information”, observes Stéphanie Lukasik, teacher-researcher in Information and Communication Sciences at the University of Lorraine. With their photos, videos and hashtags, the direct spectators “brought more distant spectators to the spot”, specifies the teacher and sociologist of the media, Marie Lherault. But this explanation alone is not enough. The difference is that this accident was followed live over several days. “This both gave time for the information to spread and created a soap opera phenomenon, while fueling the hope of a happy ending”, sums up Marie Lherault, also author of Television for Dummies.

When drama is personified, the mileage death rule collapses

However, the event was not arrested in time, but in action. “And the word emotion comes from the Latin emovere, which means getting in motion”, explains Robert Zuili, clinical psychologist, specialist in emotions. The unfolding of the “rescue of Rayan” was all the more gripping as it was fed by the progressive advance of the rescuers, the images of the pit dug, of the population arriving on the spot, etc. With the climax: the uncertainty of finding the little boy safe and sound. “In addition to being in the movement, the public was in this suspense which contributes to the anguish. All the ingredients were there to arouse a very strong emotion, ”adds the psychologist.

Why was the “Rescue of Rayan” so publicized?

With the news, however, we are faced with buildings collapsing with families inside in China or deaths in an earthquake in Chile. However, these dramas do not have the same resonance in us as the fate of Rayan, 5 years old, stuck in a well in Morocco. “When the drama is personified, the rule of dead kilometer collapses”, analyzes Marie Lherault. As a reminder, this unfortunate law wants the media to give more or less importance depending on the distance that separates the readers from the victims of a tragedy. An accident in France will be treated more than an accident of similar severity in New Zealand. And here, the victim was a 5-year-old child, which “always generates a stronger emotion than when it comes to an adult”, continues the media sociologist. Rayan’s drama was personified: from the little face of the smiling boy, and by contrast, the videos in the bottom of the well on which you could see him bleeding and barely breathing.

For the expert, the drama can be compared to that of the little Colombian Omayra Sanchez. Her name may not mean much to you, but the photo of the young girl stuck in a mudslide, black eyes staring at the photographer’s lens from Paris Match, maybe more. In 1985, the 13-year-old girl who could not be rescued died live and in front of the press following an agony that lasted several hours. His photo remains one of the most famous in photojournalism. Rayan, is not the symbol of a catastrophe or a conflict, but he “brings back a fear”, analyzes Marie Lherault: that of the child who falls and who cannot be recovered, at the both near and unreachable.

So why has this drama federated so much?

“There is nothing that generates more solidarity than to think of someone who is going through a tragedy with their child. This is what unites the most, because it is the worst of evils and no one wants to experience that, answers Robert Zuili. Then there are those who are afraid that it could happen to them, those who are angry about how such an incident could have happened. Those who are in pain, because it reminds them of the loss of a loved one and, finally, there are those people who cling to joy, to the hope that everything will end well. »

Rayan’s drama also illustrates our need to come together around an event. “The media ceremonies bring people together, whether for sporting issues or to follow dramas. We find a form of communion, ”says Marie Lherault. According to Stéphanie Lukasik, this accident above all “affected” and “showed above all that people have a need for humanity beyond borders and differences”.

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