Tag: bad stuff happened somewhere
So, uhm, apparently on my way home from my most recent stay in the hospital, some awful stuff went down in Paris. And as usual for anything of this calibur, social media thinks it can make it all better if people would just change their icons and insert platitude hashtags.
No thank you.
Now, before I continue, I want to make it clear that terrorism in any form is horrible and I don’t condone it in ANY way. (Because you know someone is going to interpret this Post of Unpopular Opinion like that…)
It’s, just… changing my profile picture does what, exactly? “Support France and the people of Paris” is an awfully vague statement. Call me a party pooper, but overlaying the colors of the French flag over my fat face… doesn’t really do anything to, you know, locate the perpetrators, collect evidence that would lead to their conviction, provide monetary and logistical aid to the wounded and their families. Changing your icon does not do any of those things, ever. Only people on the scene can do that, and people on the scene have no time to be busting out their phones to fart around on Facebook.
This is just like that one time where there was a campaign encouraging people to change their Twitter/FB icons to, what was it, 80’s cartoons to raise awareness for child abuse. And I was all “what the crap, how vague and ineffective is that? Changing your icon will not end child abuse. Not by a longshot.” Classic feel-good slactivism is what that is, feeling like you’ve contributed to a cause by doing what is essentially nothing at all.
So, all you people swapping icons to support a cause or to “mourn” with a locale that has suffered a tragedy… Please, please think about what you are doing and whether or not it will influence the outcome in any way. (Spoiler: It won’t.) If you want to Do Something About It, put your feet on the ground and get to it by, you know, volunteering for the appropriate organizations. Or if you’re too far away or otherwise unable to act directly, go donate to said relevant organizations. Enough with this “I’m going to change my Facebook profile to support/protest X” bullshit, because you’re just diluting your own message.
Bonus rant: the #prayersforparis hashtag!
Um, okay. I know your hearts are in the right place (the above notwithstanding), but… you DO know that France is a very secular country that highly discourages public displays of religion, right? While it appears to be a Catholic country because of all the historic cathedrals and such, in practice it is very big on religion being a personal thing that the state should have no influence in, like imposing a religion on everyone. It’s even uncomfortable with religious displays/expression in public places because it could be interpreted as support for one religion over another. Surely you may recall controversy about Muslim students wearing their hijabs in public schools…?
So, yeah, about that #prayersforparis hashtag that I’ve seen floating around? It’s actually quite inappropriate and does not respect the French stance on public displays of religion. Put another way, it’s like telling an atheist person that you’ll pray for them despite KNOWING they are atheist and would therefore find such a thing at LEAST a little offputting. In this case, the secular “our thoughts are with you” alternative is actually the best one you could use, if you must make such a platitude.
I understand that prayer is a common, powerful coping mechanism for many religious people, but it’s essentially their version of the “changing my social media picture will solve everything” trick. You can pray until you’re blue in the face, but prayers will not catch the perpetrators, get them convicted or provide medical/practical/monetary aid to the victims and their families. Actual hard work and donations to the appropriate charities will!
(Want a good, helpful hashtag to cling to? #PorteOuverte (literally “open door”) among the locals who provide shelter to those either directly affected by the attack, or are stranded because of canceled flights. And it’s an example of “action, not platitude” at work!)
In the absence of directly assisting in those things or putting your money where your mouth is, the best thing you can do is to go about your lives and aspire to do good. Don’t feed into mob mentalities, don’t give into revenge fantasies, because that stuff just brews racism and violent thoughts and hate and… it just feeds into the cycles that lead to these incidents happening. We as human beings have this really bad habit of using Bad Events like terrorism or shootings to “otherize” people and lump them together as the enemy, and that doesn’t really help anyone. It happened after Pearl Harbor, it happened after 9/11, it happens every goddamn time that a large amount of people die because of violence, as if we think we can justify hate and vengeance and we forget that whole “an eye for an eye makes the world blind” thing.
“But I’m just blowing hot air,” the person who gets called out on openly talking about his violent revenge fantasy says. “I’m just talking. I’m not actually going to do (super violent thing), I know it’s illegal. But I’m just so MAD.” Still not okay, because it inevitably influences you to form prejudices and biases that don’t need to be there. I’m not saying “don’t get mad about stuff ever” but rather, funnel that into something constructive or at the very least won’t make the situation worse.
This unpopular opinion was brought to you by the itch on my belly and my cat rubbing on my chair.