As featured on PuckerMob.
Disaster strikes. Que the thousands of American citizens who believe that changing their Facebook profile pictures will make a difference to the lives lost in France. Believe me, I get that honest (albeit cynical) perspective. What difference is a post, a tweet, a two-second picture hashtag truly going to make? The answer is nothing.
Nothing but awareness. Your #PrayforParis post reaches your 1,000 Facebook friends who repost and share with their 1,000 Facebook friends, and suddenly the town, the state, the nation, knows about what is happening in a different country. Suddenly there are thousands of voices speaking positive thoughts. Suddenly there are thousands of prayers lifted. No, that might not be a physical, tangible difference. But for people across the world, this is a start.
When social media takes control of a major social issue, sh*t always seems to hit the fan. I wrote about this back in June with the same-sex marriage legislation. When the new legislation passed on June 26, suddenly, out of the woodworks, were hundreds of people who supported gay and lesbian marriage. They changed their Facebook photos. They proudly stated, “I’m so happy!” and “Today is a day in history!” and two seconds later they were back to their normal lives, keeping away from any real conflict or issues surrounding the huge change.
I’ll admit it, in June I was a cynic. I was pissed that people could so easily support something they hadn’t for the last months, years even. It frustrated me that people believed they were making a difference, taking a stand, when all they’d done was change the colors of their picture.
But as I think about the events in Paris this past weekend, and the news about the attacks that spread through social media like fire…I have to admit…tweets, posts, and red-white-and-blue-bannered-pictures do make a difference. Because everyone on my news feed has a French-colored photo. Because #PrayforParis has covered almost every social media outlet. And because, when I ask my eighth graders about the Paris attacks, they say, “Oh, that filter on Snapchat?” The world now knows, regardless of how.
So what are the steps of change? Here we are—thousands and millions of people with pictures of the Eiffel Tower and silent prayers in our heads—what physical difference do we make? We are a start. We are an epidemic. We are a social media disease that spreads and travels to people, young and old, country to country, continent to continent.
I’m standing behind my post, despite the stupidity. Despite the fact that my hashtag doesn’t physically change lives. Despite the fact that people who see it might only be compelled to retweet/repost it, and not actually do something. I still stand behind it. I stand behind the message it gives. The message of unity between people, between nations. Not only for Paris, but for Lebanon, for places and cities and people all over the world. I believe in humanity. I believe in positive thinking. And I believe in love. Love that starts with a simple social media hashtag.
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