Political Snippet: Paris & the Facebook Flag.

I have chosen to NOT nake my Facebook profile picture a French flag. I wasn’t surprised to see it appear on FB profile pictures only hours after the Paris violence. This is a typical social media response to what is a huge tragedy. But there is more to this than an apparent simple, empathetic responce from social media, and those who use it.

Mark Zuckerberg posted an opinion on the FB flag app that, whether you like the man or not, pretty well hit the nail on the head.

My nterpretation of the above is:  It is the response tothe Paris attacks that is part of thethe problem. We are so selective in how we – “we” used in the universal sense – chose which tragedies are important enough to warrant a widespread response – or a FB flag app – and which aren’t. It is a response that is basically saying only certain human lives have value. Other deaths due to extremism of any – and many – types happen every day, and yet go unacknowledged both in news services…and on social media! The incidents are either too remote, or victims too poor, or of no political value, or of no financial value or – horrifically – insignificent! The whole world doesn’t revolve around iconic cities, which is how it could be viewed, though knowing that, I also live in a city that is a potential target. Surely in a world where we hope for universal compassion, universal responses to terrorism of ALL types, universal sorrow and empathy…even the death of one bystander would be considered too many, and worthy of a universal response. Unfortunately, thousands die, and go unacknowledged…by FB, or otherwise. 

In another article I read – which was empathetic, but realistic – they stated that “By making ISIS go viral, we are helping them promote their own sadistic ends” which was exactly my initial thinking a day after the tragedy, when the blanket reportage ramped up to hysterical levels. They don’t need a PR machine – they have our nedia to keep their name up in lights. The ISIS hierarchy must be clapping each other on the back, and saying…job well done! 

 Sometimes I wonder if we are not our own worst enemy. Reporting the same information over and over infinitum dulls us to the impact of it, as we change channels again, as yet another news service blanket covers the event. The dead of Paris deserve better! 

Facebook blows with the wind. If it’s a gay issue, create a rainbow flag app. If it’s a sensationalist terror attack, create a flag app for (insert name of country here)! What of Kenya! Palestine! Beirut! What of the “collateral damage” in Syria and Iraq! Perhaps multi-flag profile pictures will come next! 

Despite my assumed cynacism of how we now approach tragedy, I do send my heartfelt sympathy and empathy out to Paris. I would be a poor example of humanity if I felt otherwise in the face of so many innocent people dying. It is just that my FB profile picture will not indicate so!

Liberty; Equality; Fraternity!

Tim Alderman (C) 2015

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