Social Media: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

For every horrendous human atrocity (that makes Western media headlines), there is a social media reaction. People who don’t normally post political opinions or comments, or even follow the news want to share their thoughts with the world. It is a strange phenomenon, but it has somehow become a normalised form of behaviour in our society.

Friday 13th, sparked a variety of opinions on social media platforms. Five main categories of thought can thus be observed, including their counter comments.

Firstly, some Muslims felt obliged to apologise for their religion. Then there are the Muslims that comment on the latter, clearly stating that they must not apologise for their religion, as ISIS does not represent their beliefs.


Secondly, there are those that blame the refugee crisis for what happened. They are simply reflecting the views of right-wing politicians. Then there are those that express strong counter arguments to the latter – explaining that the refugees are not to blame and that they are fleeing the same terrors that just hit France.


Thirdly, there are those that show their support to France by using a transparent version of the French flag superimposed on their Facebook profile picture.  Then there are those that  refuse to change their profile pictures, as they see it as an outrage that we, as a society, have a selective form of grievance. That we overlook the human tragedies happening elsewhere. Hinting towards the idea, and in some cases, clearly stating that white lives bear more importance, or so it would seem, than non-whites. Thus creating a ‘Them’ and ‘Us’ rhetoric.

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The fourth main stance that can be observed, is the idea that France had this coming to her. That since the 1970s most of the Western hemisphere has made some awful political decisions, and that their policies with regards to the Middle East are rotten to their core, outdated and need to be changed.


The Return of the Boomerang

Another social media reaction that can be perceived as a post-incident reaction, is the coping strategy of the French people. Many people are scared, and shaken as another attack may be waiting around the corner. On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who refuse that their freedoms, and love for life be reduced to a life of fear. Consequently encouraging people to go about their lives, and even go that extra mile, such as this amusing Facebook community page.

Lastly, there are those that adopt a more general perspective on the incident and call for world solidarity. This last trail of thought is not exclusive to all of the above. It is a theme that seems to be a widespread conclusion, however, the reasoning leading up to it can be very different at times.

All in all, these are just mere observations, but what can be said of them? And what do they tell us about our society? These questions bear many possible answers… In the meantime, almost two weeks have passed since the horrible attacks in Paris, and my Facebook newsfeed has gone back to its usual business – featuring posts from The Lad Bible, for example.




An Attack On Our Way Of Life

On Friday night, France was a victim of a series of terrorist attacks, killing at least 129 people.

Paris attacks

The chosen locations are interesting, in the sense that the attacks were not on the really ‘glitzy’ and touristy parts of Paris. Instead, the bombers targeted places of leisure:  a football stadium, a concert hall, and various restaurants and cafés.

What’s more, they chose a Friday night to commit these atrocities. Friday nights, in Western culture are typically known as the day, where one can ‘let down their hair’, ‘kick back and relax’ – or so to speak.

When I first heard about the attacks, I was scared for the people in Paris, some of them close friends of mine. I reassured myself that they were safe, luckily they were – for some, it was unfortunately not the case. Then I started to research the subject in more depth. When I had time to digest the unpleasant information, my initial fear and worry, soon turned into anger, as I realised that the attacks were not upon individual citizens, or on France as a state, but on the Western way of life.

France spread the famous words “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”, and the spirit of revolution throughout Europe, after their own bloody battle for freedom in 1789. Many historians argue, that Europe as we know it today would not exist without the legacy that the French Revolution left behind. This may be a romantic vision of France’s impact on Europe, however, it still holds a special symbolic value in modern Europe, and Western culture. France is one of the first European countries where the people stood up for their rights, and fought for the many freedoms we enjoy today.


Facebook post

Given the terrorists’ choice of venues; the significance of Friday night in Western culture; and the symbolism of France in Europe, it is clear that the attackers wanted to hit the people of the Western hemisphere – or any other culture that shares the same freedoms – in the place where it hurts the most. That is our comfort zones, the places we feel happy in, and where we forget about the stress of everyday life. Whether that is whilst watching a football match, going to a concert or enjoying a meal and some drinks in the company of people we appreciate.

This feeling can, somewhat, be found in Bono’s  comments on the Paris attacks, stating “This really is the first direct hit on music we’ve had in this so called war on terror”. Music holds a special place in every society, and the fact that IS defines concert-goers as ‘idolaters gathered in a party of perversity’, further enhances the idea that the main target here, was our culture.

Bono is not the only artist to have commented on the tragic events of Friday the 13th. Many opinions can be found on social media, and Madonna for instance made a touching speech during a concert on November 14th.