Facebook flags for France: Is there a point?

By Katie-Lauren Finn – Deputy Features Editor

Paris has been subjected to a terrible terrorist attack which left 129 dead and around 352 people injured due to suicide, grenade strikes and Kalashnikov shootings. After these tragic events occurred there has been a global reaction. The London Eye, Empire State Building, Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Christ the Redeemer, Tokyo Tower, as well as many other monuments in many other countries, have shown their support by lighting up in blue, white and red to convey their countries grief over the horrible events and show their support.

The French colours have not only been spread across monuments – the colours can be seen all across social media. Facebook users are using a French flag filter over their profile photos which Facebook offers as a “temporary feature” to their current photos. In light of this touching gesture, people have been criticising the use of this filter saying that they are being “ignorant” to all the other things that have happened this week or that they are purely changing their photo due to narcissism. I thoroughly disagree with these criticisms. I changed my profile picture for the same reason others have, to show the people of France that they are in our prayers and that we care. We care that they have suffered and we care that they are in pain and we will support them.

If Facebook offered us a way to show support to the victims of all other tragic events then I would do this too. We can only change our social media in a way which is offered to us. Just because my profile photo is French it doesn’t mean we don’t care about everyone else. Just because it’s on social media it doesn’t mean we’re doing it for attention. These critics need to stop making arguments over nothing at all. I’m showing my respect in my own way, as many others are in theirs.

How having red, white and blue across my profile picture can be seen as egotistical or rude is beyond me. We should be focusing on helping the injured, remembering the lost, admiring the heroes, grieving with the survivors and finding a way to overcome this tragedy and promoting peace. Not debating about who’s uploading support on social media in a pursuit of gratification.

I cannot speak for the people of Paris myself, but surely seeing so many people from all over the world with profile pictures filtered with the French flag has to be comforting. Knowing that we are on their side and we won’t stand for terrorist attacks and violence. I like to think if England suffered something similar, or any country for that matter, then France would show their support with the colours of our flag too. Most of us cannot be there, helping, but we can show France we care.

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