By Batsheva Haber
Over the last few days, you may have noticed that many of your Facebook friends have been replaced with French flags. Perhaps you yourself have donned the flag over your everyday selfie. The purpose of this is of course to show solidarity with the French people after the horrific terrorist attacks from last week. I for one have found myself more and more frustrated by this phenomenon, and I have to ask myself why.
Is it because my country has been under a rising wave of terror and no one seems to care? Partially, but while it frustrates me that Israel’s nightmares are being ignored, my mother always taught me that two wrongs do not make a right.
So maybe I’m annoyed because when massacres are happening in Kenya no one reacts, as apparently only Western life matters? That definitely doesn’t help, but it also does not make the gesture wrong in of itself.
So perhaps it’s because while we are showing solidarity, Europe is condemning Israel and boycotting my hometown? Maybe, but I’d like to think I’m not that petty.
And then while scrolling through Facebook via the French colored glasses, it suddenly hit me. The real reason I’m upset is that THIS is how people are responding to the attack. This, and this alone. They make a slight change to their Facebook picture for a week, and then go on with their lives, feeling like they have made a difference.
I’d be the first person to speak for social media and the power and influence it has. However, I must express now what I have said in the past: Social Media is only influential if it triggers change, not if it replaces it!! Symbolic gestures are not enough to help the people of France, so they should not be enough to wipe our conscious.
So here are 5 things you can do instead of changing your profile picture:
- Educate yourself!! One of the most upsetting videos I’ve seen recently is this one, where Buzzfeed asked their employees questions about ISIS. These people, who are not only public figures but the preferred news source of many young people, could not answer ANY of these very basic questions. ISIS is growing all over the world, torturing and murdering people on a daily basis, THE LEAST we can do is stay updated on what is happening. We owe that to the people who are suffering while we do nothing. So spend about 5 min of your daily internet time on this. (And no, watching that Buzzfeed video does not count)
- Donate some money to help the terrorist victims in France. Trust me, any small aid you can give will be a mile more helpful than dressing up your profile picture.
- Contact your leaders. Let them know that you think combating ISIS and radical Islam needs to be a priority. If you are American, consider signing this petition.
- Raise awareness – No, changing your picture is not enough to “raise awareness” to the French plight or to those suffering under ISIS rule. So use what you’ve learned to make an infographic, write a blog post, or host an event in your community to raise awareness. Anything works as long as you are doing it your way
- And last, but definitely not least, pray. Often with things this tragic, there is only so much we can do. So I turn above. I ask God to provide the victims’ families with the strength and relief that none of us can grant them, to heal the injured, to protect the people of France and the rest of the world, and to help all our other actions above make a real difference.