Why we should stop fighting about tragedies on social media
At this moment, there is a supreme shade-fest going down on all of my social media timelines and it’s not about the usual stuff like who took whose man or who uses too many filters on their selfies, either. Believe it or not, many of my friends are up in arms about people choosing to change their profile pic to reflect their support for the Paris attacks. Their arguments for and against are numerous, with some citing that displaying such support for one tragedy is a slight to the others, but I think there are some things we all should consider before we tear our friends down about the way in which they express support or display grief.
First off, we’re becoming desensitized.
I said it but I wish it weren’t true. Many of my friends are American, and I don’t think we realize that the way our media spins these tragedies doesn’t give us time to truly digest or grieve anything properly. Unfortunately, this is just not an easy problem to fix. As quickly as acts of violence occur, they’re sensationalized in the news and spread like wildfire on Twitter and Facebook. What this means is that as tragedies are trending, our sadness about each event gets worn thin. As a result, we sometimes focus on the most prominent catastrophe in the news.
Perhaps some of your friends live under a rock.
I spend my day digging through the news and there are still bits that I miss if I’m not thorough. So before someone gives someone else flack for not recognizing an event they should consider that it’s unlikely they value the lives of one group over another or want to pick and choose which tragedies to post about. (That would be an absurdly morbid type of bias, after all.) It’s better to just share news we feel is underreported with each other with the understanding that it may be the first time some of our friends are hearing about it.
Many people are simply followers of what they see.
Over the years, I’ve policed a lot of stuff on my timeline as completely false or satire. After I did this enough times I realized that some of my friends don’t dig too deeply into the articles they share. They see eye-catching headlines and don’t bother to check if the news site is even reputable. Or they share things simply because they’re popular. The same thing goes for actions that they see are popular. If everyone changes their profile pic and someone doesn’t want to feel left out, they might consider changing theirs too. This act has nothing to do with solidarity for victims of a tragedy and everything to do with solidarity amongst their Facebook friends.
It is possible to be the change you want to see.
If your gripe is that people are focusing on one tragedy, then set an example. One of my friends posted a lovely collage of several flags and offered a simple, blanket message of prayer and support. Shortly after, I saw similar posts popping up. The method worked well and all feelings were spared. So yeah, let’s do more of that.