Solidarity shouldn’t be a post on Facebook

Megan Maher

By now everyone has heard about the terrorist attacks in Paris. With at least 129 people dead and hundreds more wounded, the whole world has been reeling in the aftermath of the violence. Within hours, millions of people all over the world started posting their condolences using #PrayForParis to make their voices heard. Buildings all over the world were lit with the French national colors and every news agency was telling their version of the events that night.

As soon as I heard what was going on, I immediately glued myself to the television, trying to get every detail I could. After spending four months studying abroad in France last year and leaving Paris a day before the Charlie Hebdo shootings, this attack definitely hit close to home.

After everything that France has been through this past year with the shootings in January, the beheading in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier in June, and the Thalys train attack in August, the media has extensively covered this country. But not as much as the event’s on Friday Nov. 13.

While this can be good because it makes it hard to stay ignorant about the attacks, what I find troubling is the fact that all the media outlets are trying to outdo each other on the gruesomeness on the night’s events. One CNN reporter went to so far as to talk about the suicide bombings outside the Stade de France, then proceeded to show the blood and pieces of flesh left from the attacker.

Other sources like Fox News are comparing the ISIS attacks to what Adolf Hitler did to Paris during World War II. While France is preparing for war with Isis, trying to compare this attack to others throughout history is distasteful to say the least. History is history for a reason and we should not try and repeat it because something similar happened many years ago.

The media has also been trying to pull every little detail from the night, from the reactions of the people of the city, to the reactions of other places around the world. The American media is leaving no room for grief as they are interviewing survivors, showing pictures and video of the carnage throughout the night, and trying to figure out the most horrific way to describe the attacks.

With the attack, came an outpouring of solidarity throughout the world, most of which happened on social media. People began posting pictures of Paris, putting the colors of the French flag on their profile picture, or writing French quotes even if they didn’t speak a lick of the language.

Some have used social media poorly over the past few days. An example is people using Facebook’s “check-in feature” to say they were safe even if they weren’t anywhere near Paris at that time. But there were some people that used it in a positive way with the hashtag, “PorteOuverte,” which was created to help both French and non-French speakers find shelter during the times of the attack. The hashtag, meaning “open door,” was a great tool to help people find safety during the chaos. Things like this are what social media should be used for, not to gain likes or copy the rest of your friends so you look like you’re paying attention to the world.

While this was an unprecedented attack on the French nation, attacks like these happen often in places around the world. But because Paris has so much more access to the media than countries like Syria, Kenya, or even Lebanon, which people perceived as violent already, much of their coverage is overlooked if it even airs. So in reality our society needs to stop showing support for likes. We need to show support because it is the right thing to do.

We also need to stop being so ignorant to everything else that goes on around the world. We have become so desensitized to places in the Middle East getting attacked, or just any news about ISIS in general that it takes attacks in a huge metropolitan city to finally wake every one up.

So in the words of Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Joann Sfar, “Terrorism is not the enemy. Terrorism is a mode of operation. Repeating ‘we are at war’ without finding the courage to name our enemies leads nowhere. Our enemies are those that love death. In various guises, they have always existed. History forgets quickly.”

In the future, use social media wisely so that you are making a difference, instead of just being part of a herd.