The first thing I do when I wake up is to check my phone—Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. The morning of November 14 was no different. It was a Saturday so I was able to leisurely check my social media accounts. When I opened Twitter, I knew something was wrong. All the news outlets were tweeting the same thing: the Paris attacks.
Since I rarely watch TV, I get my news from the Internet, which I prefer because you can choose what stories to read. If I watched TV news, shows that tend to border on sappiness, I would be angry and/or crying all the time. Not that I can avoid that altogether on the Internet.
After I checked Twitter—the more level-headed social media platform, if you ask me—I moved to Facebook, where I learned that other shit went down on the same day: an earthquake in Japan and a bombing in Beirut.
Social media is great for disseminating information. It also allows people to share their views much easier. And share their opinions, they did.
There was the relatively harmless slew of online prayers and the ubiquitous #PrayForParis hashtags. More “cultured” people used the French version, #PrierPourParis. If the events in Paris had happened a few years ago, I would’ve probably be one of those annoying atheists posting about the futility of prayers and the use of said hashtags. And then there were those who were indignant at how people were only praying for Paris when there were far greater tragedies, which have been overlooked by the media.
For some Filipinos, it was their moment to shine the light on the lumad issue. I appreciated that, but I felt like some of them were being a little too smug about it. Like, “Oh, you know about the earthquake in Japan and the bombings in Beirut? Pfft. That’s nothing. I know about the lumad killings.”
Is this the new hipster? Is there a competition on who could cite and grieve for the most obscure social issue? And the funny thing was, some of the people who were preaching on how we should be directing our attention to our own country’s issues instead of a tragedy thousands of miles away, haven’t shared anything about the lumad issue prior to the Paris attacks.
A slightly harmful post that I saw was of someone saying that the Paris attacks were a result of France taking in Syrian refugees. He also wrote that ISIS used the refugees as a Trojan Horse for terrorists. His posts were accompanied with links to news articles that didn’t support his statements.
This wasn’t helpful because that’s how fear and misinformation spread. People who don’t actually read would think that his captions were the gists of the articles he was sharing, when, in fact, they were merely his theories.
To clear it up right now, reports say that none of the known terrorists in the Paris attacks were Syrian refugees.
Facebook then rolled out an update that allowed you to temporarily change your profile picture with a French flag overlay, and people had a lot to say about that, too.
I’m not discounting the merits of such posts. Sure, I would like to know why I care more about a tragedy in France than our own country’s problems. (I think it’s somewhat related to why I feel like my life is better represented in American TV series than sappy teleseryes. But that’s another point altogether.)
Yes, I would like to care about Japan, Beirut, the lumads, Africa, and other lesser known tragedies, but I’m not going to pretend that I suddenly do just because someone guilt-tripped me into it.
I get it. We just want to be heard. And social media makes us feel like we’re not just screaming into a void. I just wish the screaming didn’t come with a subtext that says, “My scream is superior compared to everybody else’s.”
Edited by Allan