ONLINE EXCLUSIVE OPINION BY JENNY DEVRIES
Over the weekend, the world turned out in support for Paris and the victims of the mass shootings. A lot of people took to social media to show that they stood behind the over 120 Parisians who lost their lives, adding a French flag filter to their Facebook profile pictures and including #PrayforParis in status updates. But I will not be updating my picture or my status, and here’s why:
I heard what happened in Paris. I watched the news coverage, and my heart broke again and again. But I wondered if changing my picture and adding #PrayforParis minimizes the terrible reality of what is happening in our world.
Posting the picture creates a feeling of change, without having to do anything more. So, though you might change your picture to show solidarity with our French allies, you need to consider what that change means. It means yes, you support France, but you’re ignoring the problems that other countries are experiencing, and reducing their importance.
Not only is France suffering from terrorism, but so are Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, refugees, Syria, Palestine, even the U.S. We’ve been exposed for so long to these issues, that we become desensitized, almost, to these mass casualties. And talking to my friends, we noticed there is less media coverage or visibility about other tragedies, if not none whatsoever. Even, for example, if we are exposed to tragedy in countries of Africa, it happens so often that some have stopped listening.
Please, don’t get me wrong- there is nothing wrong with showing support and love and empathy. All I am asking is that people support without exclusion, and to educate themselves. Instead of posting, I choose to read about these conflicts. By educating myself, I can engage in and help others participate in productive conversation that goes beyond a simple post and thinking they’ve done your good deed for the day.
I’m not trying to say don’t change your picture, just be aware of why you are doing it. Don’t post it because you feel like you should, or because others are doing it. If you post something in support for Paris, don’t let your support stop there. Let those millions of lives lost be the reason you decide to do something good today, to effect change even it is just for a single person.