“But Facebook, in the last year, why didn’t you turn your profile pictures
green and white for Pakistan (132 children killed in their classrooms, December), or green and white for Nigeria (100-2000 killed in their villages, January), or red, black, and white for Yemen (137 killed at a mosque, March), or green, red, and black for Kenya (147 students killed at university, April), or red, black, and white for Syria (146 killed on the streets, April), or green and white again for Nigeria (145 killed at mosques, July), or red, black, and white for Iraq (180 killed at a market, August), or green and white again for Nigeria (145 killed at markets/mosques/matches, September), or red for Turkey (102 killed at a rally for peace, October), or red, white, and blue for Russia (219 killed on Metrojet Flight 9268, October).”
This post was shared by many on my Facebook timeline. Each of these acts of terror left dead bodies and wounded lives. I appreciate the sentiment. It is a very noble thought. But it is also pretty hypocritical of us to expect Facebook to do something about this when many of us had only passing concern about the incidents when they first took place.
At the end of the day, Facebook is just a platform and it is guided by markets that are more important for it. Facebook isn’t there to guide us in any way. It is just there – a platform for us to connect on – not to guide our conscience.
So while we ask Facebook why it didn’t come up with a filter for Beirut, the question we really need to be asking is whether something as inconsequential as this is worthy of our outrage.
Getting outraged is easy these days. But if you really wanted to show concern for Beirut was anyone stopping you?
Should it pain us? It should and probably did (if you knew about it). Death is never easy to deal with; and to see life wasted is torture beyond words.
But mostly, we dismissed many of the past instances because it was in the Middle East where such incidents are pretty common. The death toll in Iraq has been above 700 every month for over a year, but do we really care? Yes, there is shock and perhaps sadness, but beyond that we numb our senses and look away.
It is also the way we dismiss what is happening in Kashmir – the turmoil in the State seems have entered a never-ending cycle but how many in India are really concerned?
The Western countries have forever been a clique. Their interests are aligned – economically and otherwise. They support each other in war and are ‘developed’ nations. So when one of them is attacked, it feels like an attack on the alliance itself.
Are they more important to the world? In economic terms, yes. Can you really put a price on life? No. But it is perhaps fair to say that France is in a position to get more support for every life lost rather than Beirut, and that is what we need to change.
The inequality that makes one nation more important than the other – you could argue it has always been the way – but does it always have to be that way? The divide is unfair.
To say that Facebook is involved means little. The human suffering is real while everything we see on Facebook is virtual. It never does anything more than provide fleeting relief.
If we really did have a problem with their change in policy, we could have got off Facebook and made the company notice the mass exodus. But we are still there, sharing and trying to show we care.
As Iyad El-Baghdadi, an Arab Spring activist, said on his Twitter timeline, ‘Everybody wants to do ‘the right thing’ provided it’s easy, cheap, quick, simple and doesn’t take a lot of work or thinking.’
Sounds a lot like using a filter to change a Facebook profile image.