One week after one of the world’s major cities was torn through by bullets and bombs, citizens of social media are in the midsts of discussions on foreign policy issues, immigration, refugee crises, profile pictures, hashtags, religion and mourning.
If there’s a fight to be picked, you’ve probably seen it. A blog post, an opinion article – it seems like most everything is being said.
I’ve always been fascinated with this new wave of activism driven by our online platforms that really do have incredible capacity to connect the globe. Again, we have watched these online forums cause great schisms among us.
Facebook helped people check in safe around Paris. The French signaled open doors and safety around the city with the hashtag #PortesOuvertes. Monuments around the world were lit in the tricolor flag, not to mention the millions of overlayed profile pictures and “throwback” posts featuring the Eiffel Tower.
I’m left wondering if the Internet saturated with red, white and blue is all we have left to give of our thoughts.
After hearing news of the horror in France, we were left grappling to find some form of condolence or solidarity with our fellow human beings. How do we mourn tragedy in a digital age? How do we move forward and brace ourselves for the onslaught of the debates on foreign policy and American politics we know will ensue? We are in the heat of the battle, the thick of the storm, and we are trying to get our bearings in this world we live in today.
I don’t have an answer to whether or not it was more right to change your picture to a French flag. I don’t believe I’m most qualified to judge the morality of the hashtag #prayforparis versus #prayfortheworld. I am pinged with guilt when I realize that is all I have done to think on what has transpired.
Yet I find myself pulled in opposite directions, between fighting a superficial outpouring of digital grief and expressing genuine concern for people in a place far away that still hold meaning to me.
I scroll through my newsfeed and am met with streams of polarizing arguments and strong words, as if we all know the best way to move forward.
When tragedy and evil rear their ugly heads, answers don’t come simply. Hashtags don’t always rescue us, and more words pounded out in statuses don’t always equal more positive action. We have seen the beauty and the ugliness of what it means to be a person these last several days. In days to come, may we walk through the mess with grace, love and humility.