Are You a Member

of the Facebook Police?

Social media connects families, friends, and even complete strangers from across the globe. Thanks to instant access to information, we can now aggregate news based on the interests of those who are “virtually” closest to us. In light of the recent terrorist attacks that rocked Paris last Friday, scores of social media users changed their profile pictures to Parisian flag overlays symbolizing empathy and mourning. One after the other, the jazzy, transparent profile accessories filled my timeline.

I make it a habit not to judge. There are plenty of things that I do not like and many more than I find offensive. Yet, when it comes down to my engagement on social media, I opt out of the controversy particularly when it involves the loss of life.

What about Beirut? What about Kenya earlier this year? Where are their flag overlays?

These are all important questions that could stimulate awesome dialogue.  Instead of taking the “let’s talk about this” approach, many people on my timeline aggressively called out friends and family for being #TeamParis.  As someone who rarely changes my profile picture, opting for the new flag feature never crossed my mind. The Paris “brand” is one of the strongest we’ve ever experienced, especially here in the United States. Go to any affordable home goods store and you’ll find replica photos of the Eiffel Tower sold to millions of people, many of whom have never stepped foot on France’s soil. There is a commercial connection to Paris, which captivates people’s attention. We immediately connect the city to that awesome Parisian-themed baby shower we went to last month.

My brain aches when I think of the terror in Beirut, the abducted girls in Nigeria, or the 147 killed at a Kenyen university. And I completely acknowledge that the coverage of these events is minimal in comparison to Paris. However, I also recognize that people empathize with familiarity. Despite being thousands of miles away across the Atlantic Ocean, people “know” Paris.

Every global atrocity matters. But if someone chooses to acknowledge the loss of life in one part of the world and not in the other, then that is their choice.  If we’re unhappy about media coverage, then we certainly have a responsibility to call out bias.  But before we place the blame squarely on them, we must ask a tough question of ourselves:

Do we take the time to look for alternate news sources?  Or are we posting from the same ‘ole sites?

Please do complain about unfair access to media.  It’s what makes our nation great.  However, you gotta also assess whether you maximize the gift of social media and create your OWN platform to highlight what’s important.

I refuse to be a member of the Facebook police.  It’s just too tough of a job.

There are many lessons to be learned. Some people have an aching heart for Paris. Some people just like to change their profile pictures to something new.

Either way, it’s not my business. And life is always easier when I stay in my virtual lane.

How does your timeline look with the recent surge in media attention to international affairs?