Just over 11 months after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Friday 13th 2015 saw the day in which over 120 Parisians lost their lives to yet another senseless act of terrorism.
The series of co-ordinated attacks occurred at the Bataclan Concert Hall, a Cambodian restaurant, and the Stade de France where people enjoying their Friday nights lost their lives at the hands of monsters with explosives and machine guns.
Although the siege is believed to be over, the aftermath has only just begun. #RechercheParis (SearchParis) is a hashtag currently being used on Twitter where people are asking for any information users may have about lost loved ones they haven’t had contact with since the attack. The exact death toll is still unknown, and there are many more injured people in hospitals as we speak, unable to communicate with these people looking for them due to their injuries. Events like this cause panic and mass hysteria for all, but especially for those who can’t get hold of a loved one.
Cue Facebook’s Paris safety check system: a simple notification people can activate on their timeline to let their loved ones know they are safe. Though a small act, it can give huge comfort to the friends and family of people directly impacted, and is a thoughtful measure implemented by the social media giant. Unfortunately, however, even such a simple tool finds its way into misuse: cue the unmindful individuals who, from the safety of their homes in different countries to those the system is designed for, are checking themselves as ‘safe’ as well, for no good reason at all.
It is a privilege to be in a position of safety and security in the world right now. With last night seeing not only Paris come under siege, but 41 people murdered in Burj al-Barajneh, Lebanon, by 2 suicide bombers, and Japan being put on high alert after a 7.0 earthquake struck just off the south western coast, a bit of respect and thought in regard to those who are suffering goes a long way.
The act of clicking ‘safe’ for these people is, we can hope, motiveless and more an act devoid of thought than one that disregards the severity of the situation altogether. This isn’t me blowing something out of proportion, I’m simply considering the pain and anguish of the victims lying in hospital and their distraught loved ones whilst these click-happy social media users fanny around on Facebook without thinking.
The support of people from around the world far outweighs the carelessness of these acts of sheer stupidity, but before you decide to share that you’re safe using the Paris safety check system, take a moment to consider if this feature is really aimed at you; try to be compassionate, considerate, and thoughtful of your fellow man’s anguish and pain, and just don’t do it.
Share thoughts of condolence and tributes; share images of the world uniting with Paris; make your support known through the use of the hashtags. But don’t share posts that commend fear tactics, or spread bigotry about religion or immigration being to blame – and do not sign that ridiculous petition currently making the rounds on social media, otherwise you’re just fuelling the fire.