Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 22 November 2015





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Facebook's French flag filter:

Let us show solidarity with Paris

In the aftermath of the appalling Paris terrorist attacks, which left over 129 people dead, Facebook activated its Safety Check feature for those in the city, it operates so as to help users to alert friends and family of their safety.


Safety Check is a feature activated by the company during natural or man-made disasters to quickly determine whether people in the affected geographical area are safe, however the feature that is garnering the more negative media response is the French flag colour filter they introduced which is similar to what Facebook offered when same sex marriages became legal in the United States. Many have taken to their keyboards to express their dissatisfaction when it comes to lazy social media activism. In response to the trending topic #PrayForParis, many have expressed their disdain either stating that it is an indolent attempt at feeling involved or have taken the other route to be resentful as a post war nation who received no such empathy vie social media.

Which however is the most disappointing because you would think that we as a generation of Sri Lankans for whom terrorism was once our everyday lives would, of all people, stand in solidarity with Paris instead, we've reduced ourselves to unnecessary social warriorism. It's true that we must remind ourselves that all countries in the world are facing daily attacks and unfair deaths, every day, somewhere on this vast earth, thousands are wrongly being killed but the true concern is when will we understand that all lives on this earth count?

Every country that faces a tragedy must have an "I am Safe" option on Facebook. Every soul that is being unfairly killed should earn a hashtag. People, politicians and especially the media shouldn't be indifferent to any unfair death. We should mourn every human dying in an attack, no exception, no excuses.

If your argument is that no one prayed for our country when we were going through trouble times, that's where you fail at humanity. Let's pray for our fallen men as much as we're praying for Paris, Let's see each other as equal human beings; not as different countries. Let's take initiative to stop dualities. Let's be one in our view on death. Compassion and empathy do not come with a price. So let us bear in mind that when we pray for Paris, we don't just pray for Paris. We pray for one hundred and twenty nine human beings whose lives were cut short.

We pray for nearly a hundred more injured. We pray for countless traumatized and for those left behind to pick up the pieces. We pray for a whole other category of victims - those wrongly labelled 'terrorists' for the religion they follow or the colour of their skin, and those who struggle against terrorism on a day-to- day basis whose stories don't make it to the news. We pray there won't be another bombing of Paris, or Lebanon or Iraq or Syria or Afghanistan or Israel or Palestine. While social media is often easily criticized for being ill-timed or for lazy hashtag activism, at a time when the world is hurting, every bit of support helps.

Some people believe in praying, others believe in displaying, even if it is by simply changing your profile picture, show that you care.

- Dimithri Wijesinghe



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