I am saddened by what happened in Paris but I won’t be changing my Facebook profile picture to the French flag

** This isn’t addressed to anyone specifically. This is purely observational thought. I wrote this with nobody but everybody in mind. 

I don’t do viral things on Facebook. When people did the ALS bucket challenge, I didn’t do it. When people changed their profile to a cartoon, I didn’t do it. When same-sex marriage was legalized, I didn’t do it.

Now everyone is changing their profile pictures to the French flag, I once again won’t do it.

I am not against being public on social media with my concerns, sadness, emotions over things. I just don’t do it like this.

The first thing that bothered me about it is that the feature to change it says it’s a “temporary” change. So is our mourning temporary? What kind of message are we sending? For us to care about the aftermath of this senseless violence is only a temporary thing.

The instant you welcome something like this, a tragedy, into your profile picture, you are sending a message that this thing is important to you. But once you change it back to the normal profile picture you had, does this not matter to you anymore? Is your own face without the French flag more important than sending the message that you care?

I’m not trying to be an asshole about this, but I don’t want to be an asshole either by temporarily showing you that I care. It’s only been a couple days and I’ve already seen friends revert back to their normal profile picture. Their sadness for this tragedy is only worth a couple days. At least that’s what it’s telling me.

Why are people doing it? Are they really sad and mourning or are they just doing it because it’s the thing to do? Remember, your sadness is only temporary. A reversion to the regular profile picture tells me your own glamorous photo or your own joy in sharing your latest best photo is way more important than mourning the sadness of people dying of senseless violence. When you make your Facebook profile — most notably your image — your platform to show how you care or what you stand for, it shouldn’t be conveniently temporary. And changing your profile picture to the flag doesn’t mean you are doing your part to truly support the cause either.

Charlotte Farham is making big waves because she is also taking a stand against this trend. She is originally from Paris but her reason for not changing her profile is exactly what I am trying to say.

I won’t be changing my profile to the French flag even though I am French and from Paris. The reason for this is that if I did this for only Paris this would be wrong. If I did this for every attack on the world, I would have to change my profile everyday several times a day. My heart is with the world, no borders, no hierarchy, I hold every human’s life with value who is attacked by extremist beliefs whether they are based on religion, prejudice or profit! Don’t be part of the “us and them” mentality which the war mongers want you to do!

The Paris attacks is not more important than all other tragedies around the world. Favoritism toward one and not the other is not right. Sure, that’s not what the user is thinking with the profile change. But that’s the message it sends. The Beirut attacks somehow is not worthy even of a temporary change. I’m not sure even a temporary change was available for refugees or victims of natural disasters.

I don’t need to publicly display to everyone that I am in mourning. If you know me, you know that I am. I have been praying and I hope one day, we don’t have to see this kind of pain again.

Facebook’s heart may be in the right place with this “temporary” option. But it just allows us to represent ourselves as people who care for others temporarily — if it’s convenient.


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