I’m thankful to be able to say that the vast majority of social media this weekend has been filled with outpourings of support and solidarity for those who suffered as a result of the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday. Whether that support is pitched towards those who were attacked, their loved ones, or those left fearful and confused by the unthinkable atrocities enacted upon France’s capital city, one thing is clear: we stand united.
Well, nearly all of us.
Amidst the sea of blue / white / red profile pictures, defiant hashtags, and messages of hope and determination, there’s always one or two people who feel a need to run their malicious mouths; people who suggest that the declarations of hope, the prayers, and the positive thoughts broadcast over social media are ones fuelled by a desire for attention and egotism rather than ones of compassion.
Maybe changing our profile pictures to display the French flag doesn’t thwart the terrorists behind the Paris attacks, and maybe posting that “Our love and prayers go out to those who have lost family and friends” doesn’t turn back time and stop the tragedies from occurring, but in retaliation I ask this: what good are you doing by disrespecting those who feel a desire to aid those in need, but don’t have the money or means to do so in any other way?
These posts of solidarity aren’t the cries of an attention-seeking society, but ones of a people standing strong in the face of terror and fear. It’s to remind those in Paris who feel like they’ve lost everything that they aren’t as alone as they might be feeling. And it’s a reminder to us all that, in the face of the inhumanity plaguing the planet right now, the people who give a damn far outweigh the monsters who don’t.
Hoping to make a difference, no matter how small or isolated the effect may be, is a far better way of using social media than using it to denounce or condemn other people’s use of it – especially in times like these. So if you think about saying something stupid again, do everyone a favour and keep your mouth shut.