Yes, I mourned for France; no, I didn’t change my profile picture

Not everything needs to be glorified on social media

More stories from Meghan Hosely



As a student journalist, I’m embarrassed to admit I rarely read the news. But for some reason, on Friday, Nov. 13, learning about the Paris attacks implored me to take a closer look.

While I can’t explain why I decided to log onto CNN’s web page and keep up with the breaking news, I’m glad I did. I was absolutely horrified as I read and listened to newscasts.

So when my Facebook timeline filled with people sending their thoughts and prayers to the people of France, I was happy to see others took the time to educate themselves on what was happening that Friday night.

It was even impressive to me when people changed their profile pictures to the almost transparent French flag, showing their support.

However, the next morning, when I logged back onto Facebook, my timeline was filled with nothing but profile picture changes. This time, instead of being impressed, I began to question people’s motives.

I’m not saying it was wrong for anyone to switch their profile picture. One of my friends said he did it because he wanted to show awareness so others would read about it themselves.

I wondered though if that was everyone’s motive to change their pictures, or did most give into peer pressure?

Let me point out that it’s more than okay to support something and not put it online for the world to see.

It’s possible for all of us to know what’s going on with the world, without Facebook telling everyone else that we do.

However, I know a lot of people wouldn’t have read about the attacks in Paris if it weren’t for people changing their profile pictures. But what about the other attacks during that time?

Take Beirut, Lebanon for example. It was another city that came up in conversation plenty of times in the days following the Paris attack because it also fell victim to terrorism. But not once did I see anyone changing their profile pictures to Lebanon’s flag. Did Facebook even give users that option?

If we’re going to raise awareness about ISIS, and if we have the tools (like the internet) to do so, we absolutely have a responsibility to be thorough. An attack is an attack; people lost their lives. Parisian lives don’t rank higher on the totem poll than the Lebanese. Not one person’s life does.

Also, a question I’ve been asking myself lately is, what now? Most of the pictures I’ve seen with France’s flag overlay have been replaced again, as if the problem is over and done with.

Newsflash: ISIS is very much alive. This problem is relevant yesterday, today and tomorrow. Showing support and informing yourself doesn’t start and end with your profile picture changing.

Next time you consider sharing something on social media, ask yourself why you’re sharing it. Is it to impress others, or is it because you’re truly trying to make a difference? If you are doing so to raise awareness, that’s great. I back that up 110 percent.

But if you’re sharing something just because a majority of your friends on social media are doing so, realize it’s okay for you to show support your own way, not based on how you think it’ll look to others.