It was nice to see Facebook change to red white and blue this weekend, just like it was nice to see the rainbow profile pics a few months back to celebrate pride and diversity.
Most of us are horrified in regards to the Paris horror, and some of us are aware of other horrors at are happening throughout the world. We cannot do anything to change the situation for the thousands of people affected. However, the profile pic change just goes to show that people have empathy and they care. And it’s a symbol of solidarity, albeit a change of colour.
Everyone is free to change their profile however they want to, to represent whatever they want to, in whatever way they can. We are powerless to stop many of these atrocities. But one small gesture like changing a profile picture makes us become one in some small way.
Peace and Love!
UPDATE – 16/11/15:
There has been a lot of posts regarding the terror in Paris over the last 24 hours. Some are rightly pointing out that there has also been deaths in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Nigeria and other parts of the world. Facebook has not provided the facility to change profile pics for these other countries flags. Some have even said we should not be brainwashed into only responding to what has happened in a western country. I kind of agree, but that is not my motivation for changing my profile. The truth be told, I feel powerless as I cannot help out directly and I’m over 10,000 miles away.
Here are some of the responses to a comment on my FB feed regarding the profile picture change.
D: “I do think there should be a flag that represents the world. There have been many terror attacks all over the world. Yet the attacks in the west are the ones that get all the media attention. How would you feel in you lived in Nigeria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc but to name a few who live with this threat everyday? Isn’t the life’s lost there worth a mention other than the back pages of newspapers? I am not trying to take away what we feel about the atrocities in Paris! It would just be nice to show solidarity with everyone! Not the attacks the media select for us?”
T: “I understand what you’re saying Malcolm, but when it happens (as it surely will) again and again and again, what are we actually going to do? Changing our profile pictures or lighting a candle to make ourselves feel a little better seems so futile and vain. We are just putting off facing some unpalatable truths.”
Me: “Changing a profile picture WON’T drive away atrocities. But as ordinary citizens of our respective countries, we have our governments who are responsible for deploying troops or other organisations to fight on our behalf. There are some (many) occasions where I don’t say or do anything on social media. Here’s some reasons why:
1. People don’t like over-politicised posts
2. As an individual, I can’t change the situation.
3. People use social media as a way to ‘forget the troubles in the world’. That’s why cute cats get more ‘likes’ than the latest air strike casualties…
I’m not ‘giving the fight up’ when I change my profile picture. I’m just being honest and saying ‘I care about what is happening, but this is my gesture to show my solidarity.’ I could say the same thing about posts regarding fighting disease or tackling racism or posting about a missing person or trying to persuade someone to vote Labour, or complaining about the state of education now that it is being left to ‘market forces’.
I choose to post what I do if I think it will make a difference, even if it is a profile pic that ultimately won’t make a difference! I also choose to post something when I actively know it won’t make a blind bit of difference. But sometimes I may be proved wrong… I just don’t know it, because the majority of my FB friends do not react to anything I post. Or shall I blame the algorithm that ensures my FB posts do (or don’t) reach my ‘followers’?”
UPDATE – 17/11/15:
A friends response to the same criticism on a thread…
T: Rather than criticising people and belittling them for what is, in their eyes, an act of compassion, why not use this opportunity of reflection and grief to highlight what is going on everywhere? When events happen closer to home, or in a place which people can relate to much more, they are bound to feel more connected to them than in places they have never heard of. When London was attacked, it rocked me to my core because I knew those places and knew people who were affected by that.
I am proud to have many Muslim friends, one of whom is from Lebanon. And that connected me, however tenuously, to the events on Friday in Beirut. And is the reason that when showing my gesture of support, I chose to show it for Beirut and Paris.
I belong to groups and try to counter misinformation about Islam on a daily basis. Rather than bitching at people for only worrying about European victims, educate them. Most don’t know or are detached from it. Make sure they know. Speak to them, share articles. But being arrogant and aloof from public displays of genuine support to others because they don’t do it for everyone, will just piss people off and an opportunity will be lost to educate people about the suffering which is happening on a daily basis elsewhere…
The above comment is exactly where I stand on this.
I believe people need to stop the trolling mentality and clear their minds for peaceful thinking. The irony of hiding behind the keyboard of your computer or touchscreen of the smart device has been missed. Accusing people of not being aware of what is happening in the world is just as bad as what we are being accused of…