There’s a Tina Turner song that goes “We don’t need another hero.”, but actually that’s not true. Everyone needs heroes.
An article came to my attention with the headline: “Angel of Death: Iraqis Cheer Their Champion Against ISIS”
(See: http://www.vocativ.com/world/isis-2/iraqi-angel-of-death-meet-isis-worst-nightmare-in-tikrit/, which is also the photo source.)
Personification, that is putting a face on an intangible, makes it more real. Just as Mickey Mouse conjures up Disney and Superman, Batman, Captain America and others stimulate the imagination through comic books. Any time you can put a face on a concept – you have helped people visualize and identify with that concept.
In this case it would appear that the Iraqis want to picture a hero in the struggle against ISIS. In this case, a hero has been created that personifies their ideals and provides inspiration. The hero here is an average person, a university professor, who has now taken on a higher calling.
In this case a new kind of warrior is on display to help others rally to the cause and provide whatever support they can.
This kind of personification is especially important at both ends of the digital/literacy spectrum. At the upper end, the immediacy of Twitter, Flicker and other social networks helps to promote the image and its cause.
When dealing with a population that has a low literacy rate, the importance of images increases, perhaps exponentially because the target audience is unable to process written communications.
The bottom line is that personification is an old fashioned tool that still works well, even in the digital age.