Hipstercrite Life

Why social media silence on Paris doesn’t equal apathy.

I wrote a piece over on my Medium channel regarding social media and the Paris attacks.

I wanted to bring it over here as well.

In light of the tragedy in Paris, as I stared wide-eyed at the news trickling in, I wrote this on my Facebook and Twitter pages:

“When one doesn’t post on social media about tragic events, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care. They might choose to reflect or mourn in private.”

Adding to the worldwide conversation felt trivial, needless. Writing the standard “My thoughts are with Paris” or “ Hold your loved ones closer tonight” felt like understatements. Changing my photo to the French flag felt meaningless. There is nothing I can offer to my social media community at this time, nor do they need to confirm how sad and frustrated I am. They feel the same way.

(I am not judging those who choose to express their grief this way; for me, it just doesn’t feel right.)

However, a concern that pops up- a concern that one shouldn’t be entertaining when such atrocities happen- is that by not writing your thoughts, feelings or opinions on social media about such awful occurrences, you may be perceived as not caring or not paying attention. When you watch your entire feed fill up with well wishes and commentaries from others, you may feel that by not joining in, you are insensitive or apathetic.

But it’s ok if you don’t want to comment; we all express our grief differently.For many of us, our first thought is not to run to Facebook or Twitter and add to the conversation. To reflect as you go about your day, or to mourn in a private group of friends or family, is not wrong. And for the individuals who do deal with their emotions by articulating them on the web, know that your peers who do not express their emotions in such a manner are still mourning too.

With that being said, in lieu of discussing such events online, I would recommend not posting anything at all immediately after the news is released. Sharing unrelated content, particularly content that features frivolous matter, could be perceived as indifference. Upon hearing the news of the needless and brutal deaths of innocent people, one doesn’t need to see an article featuring a cat who learned to flush the toilet seeded in their feed, unless it is prefaced by an acknowledgement of the tragedy. If you choose to not grieve publicly, consider your friends who do.

There is no social media handbook that tells us how to deal with such events, but during aforesaid times it’s important to let judgement slip away.

We are all thinking of Paris, whether we say it out loud or not.

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  • Reply Keelin November 16, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Well said, and I thoroughly agree!

  • Reply nikkiana November 16, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    Wholeheartedly agree. I find in tragedy, I’m drawn to focusing on the blessings in my life…. and for me, participating and to some degree, even witnessing, the outpouring of grief that occurs online is just too overwhelming. My impulse is to pull away from the screen, and then if I feel moved to speak… Do so later on, after I’ve contemplated my words.

  • Reply toni November 17, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Completely agree with your post. For me the use of social media feels tacky at a time like this. As you said everyone has a way of expressing themselves, including choosing not to say anything at all.
    This article in the Washington Post said it well also: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/is-posting-support-for-paris-on-facebook-narcissistic-or-heartfelt/2015/11/15/d82ed0d2-8bec-11e5-ae1f-af46b7df8483_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_reactions10p%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

  • Reply Mirabella November 26, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Finally someone that understands. we all have the pressures on social media to fit into this cookie cutter person society says we have to be. some of us choose to be like they say we have to be, but some of us want to be the odd ones out. we are unique, we are retro, we are vintage, we are hipsters.

  • Reply Karen Melchior December 11, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    We all feel and use social media differently.

    Myself, I could not not change my profile picture (in to that silly Eiffel tower peace sign) I had to do something. Words weren’t enough. Friends were writing and saying they were ok. When you have been somewhere, war and terror is closer. I’m not French, but have around about 50 (real life) French acquaintances and Paris residents. I lived four months in Paris about 10 minutes walk from the concert hall.

    However by the time Sunday came around. I’d had enough. Too much. Everywhere. Selfpromoting. Blah. I didn’t go to the vigil and memorial in Copenhagen. I stayed at home.

    Social media is group-effects but also deeply personal and we all see and feel different things from our perspective.

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