Terrorism and the social media circus

No you didn’t stay strong after Paris. No you didn’t show a resounding show of solidarity after the dastardly attacks that have killed around 130 people and wounded more. Last night an unknown number of highly trained terrorists from ISIS bombed and opened fire in multiple parts of Paris as a an act of revenge against the French government’s involvement in Syria. A horrific act condemned world over, for the French people it was a return to the nightmarish experience of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

I was shocked at the inhumanity of the events but as with most things in life, my mood turned towards rage. And it was not because of the attacks. It was because of the tsunami of stupid on social media. Facebook and Twitter are the gifts of our generation that have changed the way we function. But it won’t be an understatement to say that they’re also the Louvre of human idiocy.

The hashtag #PorteOuverte was used by Parisians to offer temporary shelter to anyone in need. Facebook even reintroduced their ‘Safety Check in” feature for those in Paris who wanted to inform their loved ones about their safety. But who told this dude in India to use it? Maybe the same guy in Delhi who used it during the Nepal Earthquake. This is what I’m talking about. The shameless and ignorant use of social media to leverage tragic events for attention.

As I was preparing to write this article I rolled my eyes at Facebook’s suggestion to change my DP to the French flag theme. I even saw a couple of friends do it. Here’s my question. What the hell are you achieving by doing that? How are you ever going to affect the events half way across the world by changing your goddamn DP? Nothing is more futile than putting up statuses about “solidarity” unless you’re trying to start a dialogue. But people are smarter than that and they know they aren’t changing anything of worth. They’re just fishing for likes.

Here’s a suggestion. Want likes to stoke your ego? Pout and pose, flex and click or just write something funny. But using such tragedies to put up sappy social media posts is lame, lazy and downright insulting to the actual victims. Want to do something productive and actually contribute? Donate some money or actually put in work if possible. The maximum I have ever done is donate Rs. 100 through Facebook for the Nepal earthquake relief fund. That’s all I have to show for all my Facebook activity.

But there’s another nobler way of using social media for good in such times. Especially during terrorist attacks. Try and start a dialogue and understand more about the victims and the perpetrators. Read more, write less. And when can you actually claim to “Stay strong”? When you reject the terrorist propaganda and not blame one single community for everything that’s wrong in this world. That’s what they want! This is a recruitment drive for them. They’re driving a wedge between us and you’re letting them succeed if you paint everyone with a broad brush.

That’s the broad brush of ignorance and prejudice. The West and progressive parts of the East believe in individuality. How about we apply the same principle here and say that it was a bunch of fringe individuals who did that? Because that’s the truth. They don’t represent a single religion and never will.

Does the Islamic world have a problem? No. Is the middle east screwed up? Yes. Are all middle eastern people responsible for it? No. It is very important to know the facts and think calmly before forming opinions. Please do that in these hard times and I guarantee you, the terrorists will never win. They don’t win when they kill us. They win when they turn us against each other.Stay strong.

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