Carstens: Facebook trend doesn’t encourage proactivity

Courtney Carstens

Another Facebook trend has yet again not prompted proactivity toward anything beneficial. This trend sparked from a good place, a place of solidarity. However, much like trends tend to do, its meaning was lost in the shuffle.

The filter commemorating the lives lost from the Paris terrorist attacks can still be found on countless Facebook profile photos, even weeks after the event took place. While the gesture is not a bad one, it’s clear that people jumped on the band wagon for band wagon’s sake. And of course, this means the real purpose of the filter was forgotten.

The reason the filter was created was to show U.S. solidarity with the French. But let’s not just apply that filter; be proactive.

Filters have been trending off and on since their creation in Facebook’s early years. For example, when the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, a filter was created so those in support could put a rainbow over their photo. While the newest filter of the French flag is an excellent way to show solidarity with one of our oldest allies, it does nothing to promote any actual change. Putting a filter on your Facebook profile picture doesn’t mean anything unless you are willing to do something more to help with whatever cause you are advocating for, in this case Paris.

To apply that filter onto your Facebook picture takes seconds. What else could you do for the cause? Just applying that filter on social media means very little when you aren’t taking more active steps toward effecting change.

If you wish to advocate for something, then by all means play an active role rather than taking the quick way out. For example, send a donation to France, send letters full of hope to those who have lost loved ones in the tragedy or help with a charity. Changing your profile photo is a nice gesture, but finding a way to play an active role is the best option.

This was a positive promotional act that Facebook did, but in addition to providing this outlet to show support, an encouragement to Facebook users to be active in helping those impacted by this tragedy would have been an even better thing to do.

This trend that has encapsulated this social media site isn’t being fair to the other countries that also lost citizens during the same week as the Paris attacks. I never took part in the trend because, personally, I don’t think we should show solidarity for just Paris alone. Many families across Europe and the Middle East are grieving for their lost loved ones, and yet all we hear about is Paris and how we need to help them.

What about Lebanon? What about those other countries? If we are going to talk about helping Paris by putting the spotlight on the French capital, we are neglecting to recognize those families that had loved ones killed outside of the Paris attacks.

As a nation, if we are going to advocate, then we need to be active in that campaign on a citizen level as well as an official level. If we are trying to show solidarity, then by all means show it, but don’t just show it when it only concerns our own people. The terrorists attacks were a tragedy, and as allies, we should stand together for the right reasons in an active way.