We need to look beyond social media for solidarity


This idea of showing solidarity isn’t malicious – just misguided. No one should be arguing that showing solidarity for one event means that they are not caring about the others. I do wonder, though – what role is solidarity meant to play in solving the issue? Is it to bring comfort, or it just a way of people trying to show that they care? Who is it really aimed at?

These “shows of support” can often create a lot of unnecessary and unhelpful noise. Instead of focusing on the root causes, we end debating profile pictures and hashtags. While the problem we face is quite fundamental and serious – when is the last time a hashtag changed the world? A “social media revolution” to happen once a month, but last time I checked, terrible events are still happening every day, all over the world.

Here’s what’s confusing to me:

Why no #‎PrayforBeirut‬‬‬‬‬‬, when a day earlier 42 people were killed in terrorist attacks?

Why no #‎PrayforBaghdad‬‬‬‬‬‬. when on the same day as the Paris attacks 19 people died in a bombing at a funeral?

Why no #‎PrayforSyria‬‬‬‬‬‬, when the average daily death toll in that country is over 100?

And finally, why no #‎Prayfortherefugees‬‬‬‬‬‬, who after walking across countries for months, carrying their only belongings slung on their backs, are now be blamed for attacks by the very same terrorists they are fleeing.

Western media sources based in first world countries are understandably more preoccupied in reporting the Paris incident, as it’s much closer to home. Attacks in Beirut, Baghdad, Syria seem much more common-place. But they shouldn’t be, and treating them as such is surely part of the problem. We can argue that what happened in France is unusual and particularly shocking, based on the idea that European capitals with police and intelligence services should have control over what is happening on their territory, but this entirely misses the main issue. When we highlight one particular massacre, we merely accept the status quo that other massacres – those which do not become major stories, with wide ranging 24-hour news coverage and an accompanying hashtag – do not make it to our consciences. We do not hold vigils in the victims’ names or alter our profile pictures.

And, in doing so, I think we advocate an excuse or justification synonymous with the idea that “some lives are simply more valuable than others”. Natural instinct drives us to care more for our families than our neighbours – or not caring as much about others. But the amplification of such multiple standards without responsible behaviour can bring such problems closer to our doorstep. How sustainable is it for the societies to continue living out of differences growing endlessly?

The solidarity and empathy shown by so many for the Parisian victims is not something I disagree with. One can say a prayer for Paris if one likes, but it is a preposterous manifestation of our modern society for a passive expression of “solidarity”, supported by corporations like Facebook and Google, and followed by thousands of “supporters” who follow the trend, is to be perceived as to be admired.

We must look for stronger, more valid, and proactive ways if we really want to effect change, and truly do justice for the victims of the atrocities in Paris and globally.


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