Why I’m Not Turning My Facebook Photo Blue, White & Red.

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paris eiffel tower

For more: Show *this* to all those saying “Muslims are the problem.”

Symbols and unity are beautiful, elephriends. The author is urging, merely, that we can slow down.

Some of the most hateful and bigoted comments we’ve received today have been from folks, understandably angry, with red-white-blue profile pics. There’s nothing wrong with them, as a symbol of unity and grief and love. But we can do more: and we must. See Jamie’s article below to see what she’s actually urging, as well as the video. ~ ed.

Original Editor’s note. I read Jamie’s letter, below, earlier today, and asked Jamie if I might share it with you dear elephant readers. We then had the ensuing conversation, which I think underlines her point: there’s nothing wrong with changing your profile picture, of course…but:

Waylon: I haven’t changed my profile for the same reason, more or less. We need to actually walk our talk, not just post colored pictures. Elephant has received so many bigoted comments from hateful people with their photos in red, white and blue today. It means less than nothing, often.

Jamie: Exactly. I understand some people have their reasons for it and it is meaningful to them. I’m not even saying don’t do it. The point is to be mindful of why you’re doing it.

Waylon: Yes, that’s why I said often. It’s not bad, it can mean something, but if it’s just a speedy quick social media tip of the hat, well, better to slow down and feel this tragedy and walk in kindness more fully after doing so.  ~ Ed.

I won’t be adding the French flag filter to my Facebook profile photo.

I’m also not writing condolence and prayer messages on my Facebook feed, tagged with #PrayforParis.

It is not because I don’t care, or that I don’t feel the profound shock and sadness for what has happened.

In fact, it’s because I find it so absolutely awful that I’ve chosen not to engage in this way. I feel that just changing my photo, writing a few words and a hashtag on social media minimizes (even cheapens) the tremendous, horrific reality of what is going on all around the world, not just in Paris. From suffering arises another trendy social media gimmick, another way for us to show the world how “clued in” and “with it” we are.

Why do we change our photos, really? To show solidarity? But what does that even mean and how does a temporary Facebook photo do it? I’m not trying to be provocative, insulting or offensive toward people who have changed their photos. I understand that people have of their own reasons for doing so. In saying this, I’m not saying we shouldn’t participate or that it’s all and only a bad thing.

I’m saying: can we please just be a little bit more mindful as to what we’re churning out on our feeds?

Personally, my own Facebook settings are highly private, so only my friends see my posts. For me to change my profile photo or make a statement will only be seen by my friends; I don’t think I need to prove my stance, solidarity or affiliations among people I call my friends. The people I know in Paris—or any other place that is hit by tragedy—are in my thoughts and in my messages; I just don’t feel the need to broadcast this to the world. I’ve found ways to reach out to them directly to find out how they are, and offer support in whatever way they need now. This is my way of responding to a conflict that I feel is more meaningful than merely changing my photo. Again, just because my profile pic remains un-filtered, doesn’t mean I don’t care or that I’m not engaged.

A large part of my work now involves reading about and researching the violence that is implicit in our everyday lives, the insiduous harm that is done to people just like you and me in every corner of the world—in first or third worlds, in peaceful cities or conflict-ridden states, to every class, race, gender, sexuality, ability and age.

Every day, as I sit with the reality of all this violence, I wonder what it would feel like to have a truly equal, peaceful, respectful, loving world; and how we can begin to make that happen in our own small sleepy villages or heaving city centres, wherever we call home and whatever may be happening there.

I believe that’s the question we should be asking every single day if we really want to do something to show solidarity and support for France, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, the refugees, Syria, Palestine, the Yazidi community, the Nigerian girls, the shootings in the U.S., the Nepal earthquake victims, the women in your neighbourhood who risk assault every time they leave their homes, the young girls destroying their bodies trying to fit into the world.

Let me be clear again that I’m not saying you shouldn’t change your photo, or post a prayer for Paris (or anywhere else). By all means do. But please don’t let it stop at that. Please don’t just get swept up in a social media frenzy and do it because it “looks good” or “feels” like the right thing to do. Pause for a moment just to ask what it means to you to filter your pictures and hashtag your posts: What do you hope to achieve with it and will you be able to achieve it fully in this way? Would you also change your photo if there had been an option for Lebanon, Kenya, Nigeria, Turkey, Palestine…or any other country in the world that suffered just as incredible a loss, even if you’d never heard of the place?

Why or why not?

What else could you be doing—whether or not the news is filled with distressing headlines—that would be (more) meaningful, bring about tangible support, in your world right now?

Please let those millions of lives lost in conflict be worth more than a quickie photo change or an easy hashtagged prayer.

Let them be the reason you do something different and really kind today, to share support and effect change for even a single person.


For more:  5 Must-Read Quotes regarding the Tragedy in France.

How to slow down, and why:

Author: Jamie Khoo

Editor: Waylon Lewis

Photo: Moyan Brenn/Flickr

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Jamie Khoo

Jamie has loved writing and words from the moment she started to read. After getting her MA in English, she went on to pursue a career in writing and has had her work published in magazines such as Elle Malaysia and Time Out Kuala Lumpur. Sick of being told by mass media and society what “beautiful” is or isn’t, Jamie founded the website a beauty full mind to challenge conventional beauty ideals and create new definitions and conversations about what beauty can mean for all of us today.

Say hello to her on Facebook or drop her an email at [email protected].

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anonymous Nov 20, 2015 6:54am

Taking this position is analogous to not hugging a family member of the deceased at a funeral and expressing your condolences because that’s what everyone else is doing. It’s not profound enough because it’s just a repetitive act. You’re overthinking.

anonymous Nov 18, 2015 1:05pm

Yeah….It's so easy to tell others how to express themselves when a tragic thing happens. Most of these horrible things happen, in my opinion, because people don't embrace each other, with all their differences, so we only continue those horrendous actions on another level when we refuse to accept how we express each other's individual grief. Comparing how a person reacts to one tragedy versus another is not acceptance either but judgement. Instead of telling each other how to grieve, let's each do what we can. Maybe we can practice acceptance and love for a few minutes today.

anonymous Nov 18, 2015 12:29am

Praying/showing symbols of support and doing something tangible ie. donating are not mutually exclusive. This author is casting judgement on how many of us are so hurt and try to show support in any way we can. Let's not cast such judgement when we need to embrace love.

anonymous Nov 17, 2015 10:55am

I truly think you missed the point as to why so many people changed their profile picture. Unity. To stand as one people as opposed to divided nations. It has nothing to do with proving anything to anybody. It is a sign of a more united society as a whole. A sign that these kind of acts and hatred and disregard for human life do not go unnoticed, are not accepted, and absolutely can not continue to happen. The blue, white, and red represent more than just the events that occurred in France; but a uniting of nations, and the people of those nations, and the governments of those nations, and the realization that our world has a serious problem with the idea of radical Islam and terrorism in general. It does not mean that people do not know other things that happened the day before, or any other tragic events that happen on a seemingly daily basis in different parts of the world It means that this event struck close to home. This event occurred at the places that we all visit on a daily and weekly basis, restaurants, sporting events, and a concert; all places we consider to be safe havens, and safe places that we can feel comfortable taking our families and our children too. This movement reaches far beyond just the colors of the flag, and honestly am somewhat surprised you as well as many others do not get that fact. This is a movement toward love, and wanting to do whatever it takes to push this movement forward, and overtake or at least suppress the idea that is radicalism, hate, and overall disregard for human life, regardless of race or nationality or religion.

anonymous Nov 17, 2015 10:18am

I can’t comment on this article because the premise is flawed.

You are guilty of the fallacy of relative privation:

“The fallacy of relative privation, or appeal to bigger problems, is an informal fallacy in which an opponent’s arguments about issues are minimized, deemed unimportant, or dismissed on the grounds that more important topics and issues exist, regardless of whether these problems are relevant to the question at hand or not.

A well-known example of this fallacy is the response “but there are children starving in Africa”, with the implication that any issue less serious is not worthy of discussion.”

anonymous Nov 17, 2015 8:35am

Don’t over complicate things, its just a gesture that Facebook put into place. It does not matter if you choose to or not no one cares, the fact you have written a whole article about “the color of my facebook photo” just shows you have too much time on your hands. It’s a quick 2 second change “if you wish too”. Nothing more nothing less

anonymous Nov 17, 2015 7:23am

What has happened in France is a slap in the face of all man kind, it is a slap in the face of every country and every ruler of such. That being said we need to pray for peace in this world. How is it that we can watch one group of terroist kill inncocent people, because we do not believe the wat they do, and we still let corruption run rampent in our democratic society? Political correctness is a smoke screen for media to pick and chose what stories they want to promote, its the way they can turn their agenda into a cancer that over throws ever logical way of thinking. Peaceful peope do not go and kill innocent people because they do not believe the way they do or in the god they do. Let us turn the future generations back to respecting other beliefs even if it is not your own. Teach the future generations that honesty will always be the best policy, respect and love for every human will stop the needless killings and the bloodshed of more innocent people. May God's love and mercy be with the nation of France and may we all live to see the day that no more lives will be lost to political correctness.

anonymous Nov 17, 2015 7:21am

Appreciate your point of view but I do find it insensitive to judge how others are trying to make sense of this horrible tragedy – what purpose is adding this negativity? I don't understand why the need to do this – to judge the way others are dealing with this – sure it is a little gesture but why spend the time to add more negativity in this? your words are not helping this healing process

anonymous Nov 17, 2015 5:19am

I think you got it all wrong! It means respect for those free souls lost in the most horrid way And their family. I have to show how I feel! And this is the best way for many of us far away and heart broken..

anonymous Nov 17, 2015 4:46am

If the author of the article does not feel like changing her avatar , so be it . Why write an article about it . Just stay in the shadows , This article does not just miss the mark , it seeks importance . In other words: Dear people dont offer prayers or light candles to show your solidarity , just leave it IF you cant do more ! Thumbs down to this article . !!

anonymous Nov 17, 2015 1:41am

Gee!! Looks like many of you missed the point Jamie Khoo had made; she wasn’t against nor for the colors on your photos. She’s saying we need to do more than just that and being more mindful and do more wherever you may be. Just a show of solidarity by a simple change of color means nothing at all if you don’t actually do more for humanity whether near or far! Start being kind with your family, relatives, neighbors and friends! We don’t colors for that!

anonymous Nov 17, 2015 1:30am

hmm ok, great, but couldn't you keep doing all the great things you say you're doing, as well as ALSO supporting the cause with symbols?! One does not preclude the other. I think you were just trying to sound catchy and you ended up broadcasting this article anyway. Same bullsh*t in my humble opinion. Coloring a profile with blue, white and red is no disservice, and doesn't stop ppl from working actively into changing things for the better, whether as citizens, boters or humanitarians. Whether it was intended or not on your part, this letter has a misplaced judgemental and contradictory side to it that isn't as helpful as assumed.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 11:39pm

You don't need to change your profile picture, you don't need to explain why you didn't. If anyone cares then they are obviously missing the point. The point is to show unity in how we can at a glance, from scrolling through our posts, confirm that most people NEED to express in some way. That events that occurred are so blasphemous that this sort of behavior is obvious. I do understand that some young and ignorant teens may pose and take a selfie with duck-lips and put the france flag as a filter on it just because it is "trending" but come on, even if that happens don't waste time thinking about that.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 11:13pm

Hey,if you don't want to add the French flage to your Facebook profile pic,then don't. But don't you think it's kind of mean to disparage the gesture? Back in the days when 100% of people with HIV developed AIDS and died of it,many of us wore red ribbons. Wearing the ribbons didn't cure anything those ribbons demonstrated that the vast majority of us cared about what was happening,and I believe that show of awareness helped drive research and development that means HIV is no longer an absolute death sentence.

I have close friends who live in Paris. They understand the gesture and they appreciate it. They also know that I'm in my early 60s and I'm fighting terminal cancer. There is very little I can do except to say publicly, "I care that this happened, I'm not indifferent."

Adding the French flag to your Facebook profile pic isn't the only way to do that, and I don't assume indifference in the people who haven't. But I'm a little tired of passive-aggressive 'compassion-bullying.' Most people *are* good at heart; they want to do something to help others and most of the time, they can do little more than to show their awareness, and when possible, donate money or goods. Articles like this only give people the impression that demonstrating their sympathy and empathy is not just meaningless but unwelcome. I'm sure that isn't the author's intention but ultimately, that's how it comes off.

Personally, I'd rather live in a world where people show they care.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 10:56pm

Praying/showing symbols of support and doing something tangible ie. donating are not mutually exclusive. This author is casting judgement on how many of us are so hurt and try to show support in any way we can. Let's not cast such judgement when we need to embrace love.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 10:34pm

She did not offer any clear alternative actions or next steps to address the terrorist attacks. 75% of the article was disapproval about people changing a picture, yet there are no links to any articles/further reading to better understand ISIS or what happened in Beirut/Baghdad.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 9:46pm

I changed my profile picture because one of my best friends who lives in Paris and she is french was in the area where that happened. I asked for prayers for her and her friends who was there. And I would do the same if that would happen in any other country and there would be my family or friends.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 9:00pm

– Love this article and it mirrored everything I felt yesterday. However I should explain the reason why I have become the worst form of role model and why I do not share my views on how people choose to grieve.

The profile picture gesture really is just the latest meager offering of the Living Room Revolution. It's an epidemic that's infected the western world. I have to be honest, I hurt today, but not nearly in the way I should. I've become desensitized to the point that I'm unable to create that dark world in my mind, the one which once allowed me to vividly place myself in the midst of such terror. It was the ability to be scared that drove my to desire to make a difference. Alas, I've given up, no longer feeling the need to update my profile picture in support nor actually doing anything at all. I've become skeptical, cynical, resigned to the fact that we are actually powerless in the face of man's worst atrocities. Perhaps updating an FB profile pic is the final glimmer of hope for those people. Maybe they are still connected in a way that I was once upon a time.

I think I'd refer to that as hope and although I have none left to share, I certainly don't want to live in a world without any at all. So post your pictures, prayer for peace, hope for better, sometimes that's all we have left to do.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 7:43pm

Thank you for sharing this. It is important to see, and understand, more than one point of view on all matters. I have felt similarly, but didn’t put it into words. Honestly, I’m not sure I completely understand why I am feeling a need to not change my profile pic or hashtag a “prayer”. Thanks again. Well written.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 7:30pm

So much judgement in such horrific times.

We feel helpless and all experience grief in diverse ways and as such respond to it as individuals. There is no script for pain and grief. Let us honour the freedom to speak/write as we feel, not condemn!

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 6:55pm

This is about showing solidarity. a unification of multi-cultures spanning the globe not under any single flag except that of the people that suffered this time. Why assume it's just an empty gesture when it may be just a symbol of unity?

This article is very judgemental and I along with my family and many others, care greatly and feel hollow following events in Paris. If this is the single easiest thing we can do, better than doing nothing, surely?

Vive La France

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 6:42pm

Dear, If you don’t feel like doing it then DON’T DO IT. Easy as that. Respect other people’s point of view. It’s their way of showing their sadness and solidarity to the good people affected by that tragic event. Everyone has the right to post whatever they want, it’s their choice. It’s just a matter of “mind your own business” thing I guess. No hate, just sayin.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 4:39pm

For someone to tell me that I've made a horrific event 'cheaper' due to my choice of profile picture is absolutely absurd. I don't judge whether you do or don't, people have their reasons. But to slate millions of strangers over their choice of SOCIAL MEDIA PICTURE is ridiculous.
You're trying to say youre better than us for having a view which is pointless. Many people choose that filter to show a united front against extremists and extremists alone.
To write a post about this is the tacky thing…CRITICIZING peoples choice of both mourning and support for those in need all for the sake of recognition as a blogger is absolute insanity.
Why do some people just have to make themselves look different in this world?! To prove theyre above others, there is no real reason for that profile picture to you than standing out.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 2:48pm

The word from Paris is that people appreciate the support, Charlie Hebdo ask for no prayers as Paris has enough religion. The support is phenomenal because France took on the dominant religion in the dark days of history and stand for a secular state. The other possible flags you mention are not of countries that back its citizens equally hence the support for Paris and the greater the horror. All loss of life is comparably tragic but this is not what the support is about.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 2:02pm

Disappointed in this article. Doing something because it feels right can be perfect. What is the author doing – reading, researching and wondering about world peace? Doesn't sound particularly active to me. The flag is a symbol of a group of people, usually a nation, standing together. We do feel closer to people who share a similar history, culture, language or values. Why wouldn't we? Nothing wrong with a symbolic gesture of any kind to say 'here we are; we stand together'. Vive la France

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 1:47pm

I remember when the floods hit Boulder and people from around the country and around the world were posting caring statements. I thought it was kind and a good reminder of the connectedness we feel to each other. Maybe it was more kind the people who volunteered or the people who donated needed goods but I was affected by those caring statements and I imagine that people in Paris may feel similarly. Not everyone can volunteer or donate or whatever more significant change this article is suggesting. I understand not wanting to become complacent after performing a symbolic act of caring and resisting symbolic actions so one can focus on other kinds of actions. But I think the author is saying something more. I don't mind piggy backing—if something happens that wakes us up we might as well use it. This article seems to be piggy backing on the tragedy in Paris to promote her own agenda of taking seriously the violence that exists in our communities. Somehow the Parisian attacks didn't wake me up to this. The violence in my community is connected more to domestic violence, poverty and mental illness than the ideological war that is happening at the international level.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 1:29pm

All these comments arguing abut Facebook profile pictures… "Imagine" there's no Facebook. Would we have all this disagreement? Does this matter one way or another?

This morning i wasn't really feeling the French filter. It bothered me. I was going to message my wife to explain how I felt. then I realized that's not what the world or anyone in it needs- More of my wisdom bestowed upon them.

Instead I wrote to my wife and daughter and told them I loved them. I then listed the many things about them and my life with them that I am grateful for.

I did this(which is pretty out of character for me) for every person effected by this tragedy. I stepped out of my comfort zone. I tried to be a little nicer to everybody I interacted with today. I'm trying to put just a little less of what I believe is behind these tragedies into the world…And a little more of what I believe we need into it.

Arguing over intentions and pictures will not change anything…guaranteed. Do what you need to do, but please do something kind and from your heart. Something unrelated to social media. Some people have expressed they have nothing to give. As a human being you always have something to give that can change the world. If we all changed ourselves just a tiny bit every time something like this happened, we would be moving in the right direction. Not only in spite of these terrible people and events, but because of them.


anonymous Nov 16, 2015 1:04pm

I'm right there with ya Jamie! I think understand completely what you're saying: do it if YOU FEEL compelled to do so. Please do not do it because everyone of your friends has. Do not do it because you think others will like you better if you do.

Remember that whole ice bucket challenge bullshit?? "I challenge Jamie to throw a bucket of ice water (on a hot day) over her head. If she doesn't, she'll have to give X amount of money to this charity." Or commercials that say, "Buy X amount and we'll donate to [insert charity name here]!!" And then there's my personal fav, "Donate and WE WILL GIVE YOU a t-shirt/blanket/bag so you can show off to your friends that you care."

~the cynical optimist

    anonymous Nov 17, 2015 3:35am

    Absolutely agree with you! The whole ice bucket thing was such a load of rubbish! People only did it because of what their friends thought. I was given such a hard time when I refused to do it. And what a waste of water!

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 12:48pm

I respect your choice to take time, considering the tragedy and your reaction to it. However I strongly disagree with your opinion of others who have chosen to be supportive in the manner you find objectionable. The choice to show solidarity is an individual right. My feelings dictated my response, both coloring my profile pics and sharing significant memes. My Friends who are French, each contacted me, expressing gratitude that I’d identified myself as someone they could talk to about it. My Like minded Liberal Family and Friends had no issue with my choices, in fact the two people who, like you had negative feelings about this subject just happened to be politically my polar opposites. Their responses sang the praise of Trumps proposed wall and decried the acceptance of ANY emigrants. Perhaps if you’d allowed consideration of the reasons many of us made the change, your article would have left a better taste in my mouth?

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 12:37pm

When I first read the title of the article, I got so excited because that is how exactly I felt. People follow whatever tragedies are put in front of them creating more of it. It's sad and very scary what is happening. I don't even want to travel anymore because you never know where all hell is going to break loose. All I know is what you put your attention to, it expands. It doesn't add to the healing of the planet. It does the opposite. People don't believe in peace or love. That's why we have war and terror to begin with. It's the law of attraction in action. There are more facts to know and understand for me to go and change my picture. I rather not put all of my energy and attention into tragedies.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 12:14pm

There have been many people killed and we are currently living out circumstances where many more are likely to die soon…. And we are discussing a Facebook profile picture? No disrespect to anyone’s opinion, but I think maybe we are all distracting ourselves from the bigger picture here. We should be focusing on how we can heal the world not something as relatively insignificant as a profile picture.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 12:05pm

I totally agree with jamie khoo. Also I don't think Facebook would have been inundated with Russian flag filtered profile pictures had the Paris events happened in Moscow. And of course people who have a personal connection to a country or an event are in a different position from everyone else when something like this happens. My question goes out to all those people who don't have that connection and modified their profile picture anyway. I do believe people are sincere but at the same time Facebook does create a platform where it is just as easy to 'take a stand' as it is to write "happy birthday" to someone you don't even keep in touch with.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 12:02pm

I am sorry but in my humble oinion this article is intellectual claptrap and totaly misses the point.
I believe it is inportant for ordinary people to show solidarity and take part in the process of trying to win the hearts and minds of the vulnerable who are brainwashed by the aggressors into becoming terrorists.
Far better to do this than demand an eye for an eye like the governments and politicians who are too quick to fuel a never ending spiral of violence.
By spreading the meassge of peace, love and solidarity we are doing something positive rather than lethargicly standing back in an intellectual air of superiority. Personally I believe in the power of the people and only by standing together and making our feelings known can we ever hope to win this so called war on terror. We won't win it by dropping bombs and killing people. That battle we have already lost.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 11:58am

I agree with Maria. I'm not sure why there are people who have taken such a stance against the profile picture changes. At the very least, it doesn't harm anything. I know people in Paris who say that they have taken comfort in the solidarity shown by the people who change their profile pictures. I understand if you don't want to change your picture – so don't. I didn't think anything of it when I saw unchanged profile pictures. But don't assume that you know the stance or actions of every person who changes their picture, just as I don't assume you're uncaring and selfish because you don't.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 11:42am

She says "The people I know in Paris…..are in my thoughts and in my messages; I just don’t feel the need to broadcast this to the world. I’ve found ways to reach out to them directly to find out how they are…".

If we knew people in Paris – we would reach out to them directly; its the people we don't know to whom we feel we are saying 'our thoughts are with you at this dark time'. We are trying to connect with them indirectly, the only way we can, to show that we (in our masses) care. It is NOT motivated by 'the need to broadcast this to the world'. That's a little bit cynical from someone who promotes a 'beauty full mind.' Sorry, but that smug moral high ground that sleights the motivations of others is ever so slightly offensive….

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 10:39am

“Some of the most hateful and bigoted comments we’ve received today have been from folks, understandably angry, with red-white-blue profile pics. ”

I read all of the comments and found those disagreeing with the author quite respectful when providing their very valid points. Unless these “bigoted” comments were deleted, I don’t see the anger.

Also, living in Paris and being a 15-minute walk from the attacks on Friday, just like I felt comfort from seeing American flags waved worldwide post-9/11 (where I also was) I feel the same comfort from friends and family who changed their profile picture to express their support. My husband gave blood, but other than that option, there was not much we could do this weekend to further help, as we were all told to stay inside. So I’m not sure what more the author wants us to do.

This article was written in poor taste (and the title? Total click bait, which I fell for), and unless this young girl was in Paris, she has absolutely no authority to be expressing her disapproval on how others express support. Shame on her.

    anonymous Nov 16, 2015 1:51pm

    Yes, many comments have been deleted.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 10:12am

Why don't you respect everyone and do your own thing as others do their own thing and just keep your opinion to yourself? Just because you have a different opinion does not in any way mean it is more important or worthy of being imposed upon others. I have not seen one person yet who has shown any disrespect. So just shut it down man and leave it alone.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 10:06am

I understand what the author is trying to say, but the fact is that for some of us it is all we can do. I’m a low income mom of two little boys and sometimes it can be hard to just keep us fed and a roof over our heads, so as much as I want to and as much s it kills me that I can’t, there really is nothing I can do to show support except to change my pic, and there is a lot of us out there that are in the same situation, so we do what little we can, even if it is just adding a filter to our pics.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 9:48am

I don't think anything that's happening on social media is in any way taking away from the tragedy in Paris and all over the world. Frankly, it sounds like the people in this article are just being too damn cynical. This isn't a natural disaster like Katrina where we can help with relief efforts or give money to charities. What can we as a human race really do in the face of this kind of terrorism? I understand this is how you feel but I think you should take a step back and realize that even though changing your FB pic and attaching a prayer to a hashtag might seem insignificant, but I think the greater side of it all is that we as a human race can unite under one common banner against one evil force. Sure it's not like we're all grabbing a gun and marching into ISIS's backyard but perhaps for the French, when they see millions have rallied behind them, it can be a very powerful and meaningful act.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 9:36am

We did it not only to support/sympathize France but also to persuade others to pray for peace and spread awareness all over the world..

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 8:53am

Why are you assuming people are stopping at showing their support and prayers to this wonderful city by only posting the French flag on their profile picture on Facebook? How do you know this isn’t only the ‘beginning’ of showing their support and they are continuing to offer support in a practical way? I know many people in my circle of influence that are reaching out in very practical ways to offer support. I think we should celebrate and honor and celebrate one another in the process for the sincere efforts.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 8:34am

“A large part of my work now involves reading about and researching the violence that is implicit in our everyday lives, the insiduous harm that is done to people just like you and me in every corner of the world—in first or third worlds, in peaceful cities or conflict-ridden states, to every class, race, gender, sexuality, ability and age.”

So share and educate. Use your fb timeline for that. Doing so may lead others to donate to those in need. That would be a great next step in showing support.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 8:26am

This is so true, some people doesnt even think for a moment. They just change their profile pics just because, they saw their social friend do it, because its trendy, feels like you belong. And people will see you really care even if you dont. Why not flag of Syria, why not Lebanon's, why only now. Changing profiles will not bring back the dead you know. Its hard for them to pray for France cause no one will see it.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 8:19am

Seriously, who cares. Do what you want to do. Be yourself and not worry what others think. Especially on FB.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 8:11am

even the smallest thing can catch our eye and bring us to a deeper mindfulness… such as a French flag on someone’s facebook page. who is to say how that mindfulness manifests for another individual?

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 7:50am

I have changed my profile picture to demonstrate I am thinking about France. I agree these things can be seen to cheapen the real tangible grievance of the events, but I change my picture much in the same way I wear a Poppy for remembrance day just a few days ago. I too joined in a commutative silence at a rugby game stadium, to acknowledge and show respect to our long standing neighbours. I change it to show that although it was not on my doorstep, not directly affecting me first hand … I will still grieve for France and for the dead, for Europe and for all peoples against terrorists. If you disagree with that, you are welcome to.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 7:39am

I’ll relate these words to another subject: Wearing pink for breast cancer does nothing. There are more types of cancer than breast cancer. Do you equally wear colours that represent every other form of cancer? By all means, wear pink if you want and publicly pray for breast cancer but I won’t. I think slower about the colours I wear and about what I can do so I wont wear pink to support those affected by breast cancer.

Personally, when I see a porch lit in blue I feel a smile start deep inside of myself and radiate out. I feel warmth. I feel reminded that my brother is not alone, that I am not alone. This blue light two streets down helps to make me feel that we are not alone. The same goes on April 2nd when I see someone wearing blue. Wearing blue on April 2nd and “lighting it up blue” for Autism Awareness only got rolling a few years ago. It still isn’t rolling like some other causes. I didn’t look at all the focus on other causes such as breast cancer awareness and think “that diminishes autism because people publicly support those with that horrible disease and not this condition” or think “you wear blue one day a year or buy a single blue light bulb and do nothing else so your gesture is essentially meaningless.” It’s not meaningless. If that person two streets over does NOTHING else, it has still helped me. I hope if they are directly affected by autism they drive past my home and have the same feeling seeing my blue floodlights.

I changed my photo because I felt it was a way I could extend the tiniest message to one bleeding country that they are not alone, not because I thought quickly about being part of some meaningless cool crowd or because I want my support to be “private.”

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 6:44am

I do understand where you are coming from and now I would like to do the same from my point of view. The French Flag symbolises liberty, equality and togetherness and if ever there was a time the world needed those 3 things this is it. Additionally, Paris itself symbolises racial unity, there is every colour, every religion and every race living together harmoniously, yes it has had its moments but they have been successfully worked through. Paris is a multi-cultural success story. Likewise the victims on Friday night are of many and varied ethnicities. Paris is like the whole world in one city. The French flag doesn't mean only French lives matter, it means all lives matter because all cultures live here. I have seen the most hateful, racist posts about people only care for Paris because it is white and it breaks my heart when I look around at the different people I see walking up and down the street. Social media is trying to make me feel that my lack of pigmentation equates to a lack of compassion. People are getting hundreds of thousands of 'likes' for this divisive nonsense. There are many intolerable acts of terrorism being committed all over the world and you can't change your profile to the flag of every single one, but you can represent the one city that is made up of all these countries and flies a flag of liberty, equality and fraternity, all the things that terrorists want to rob us of.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 5:44am

I don't understand, Why so cynical? Why questioned people about their way of support to what happened in France? It's their choice nobody force them to do it, like nobody ask your opinion. you actually contradict everything you said.if you don't like the flag filter then don't there's no need for this crap! Some people change their profile picture, because that's the least they can do, you shouldn't even questioned it.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 5:18am

Well, at least it spread the news and raise the awareness much faster (trust me, there are many people who use Facebook more than any other published/broadcasting media). It means that there is higher chance to reach to the persons that can help in practical way as the author mentioned in the article. Also, I believe that people who changed the profile filter for Paris (even if I am not one of them) are either just showing their moral support which is also an important one in many forms of support and doing what they are able to do at the moment. And that does not necessarily mean they are not acknowledging or ignoring chaos or suffering to the other parts of the world.
By refusing such a manner, you must also reject other forms of expressing your feeling/emotion for other people in your community. It is like you are saying please just send the birthday present, saying happy birthday is cheap and waste of time; just send me the money for my hospital bills, don't call and pray for me.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 4:34am

Jamie I agree withyou. We have become keyboard warriors. Changing our photo does nothing! Instead of that we should get up, connect to others and answer their queries, clear their doubts and actually DO something. For a few years now, I have been on the path of the greater Jihad (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jihad) where I strive to educate myself and others on whats really happening. If someone really wants to change photo then why only france? why not Iran, Iraw, Beriut, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Japan?

Get off the keyboard, do something useful! you are just fullfilling the terrorist agenda by changing your photo nd giving them more publicity.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 4:24am

Dear Jamie Khoo, who told you that social media reflect our lives ? Please don’t compare your life to ours. Did you ever thought that maybe, people behind their social media lives also hang out, meet people, drink wine, make love and think by themselves ? If I look around me (at least in Paris), I think yes. But you can’t see it if you focus on people’s social media profiles and feeds.

Do you think I’m french ? Maybe… who cares ? Do you think I’ve flagged blue/white/red my photo on FB ?

Don’t worry Jamie Khoo, nobody juge you at this point. Deep breath and let people do what they feel is good for them and for others. We should start by trusting people, don’t you think ?

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 4:03am

I understand – and to a certain extent, agree with – the general message of this post. However, as I am sure many people have stated in the comments, this option of expressing support through social media is the only way many of us – people who do not have the money to donate/fly there, people halfway across the world who are unable to help in any other way – are able to make a difference. Maybe some people do it just because it is a trend but if out of a hundred, at least one really truly cares and if all these hastags and media coverage attracts the attention of someone who IS in a position to help, to me, it is worth it. Additionally, the sheer coverage of the tragedy in Paris has actually brought to my attention to the true horror those at Syria, etc. are currently facing – not just me but many others as well who were previously ignorant. Worth it? Very much so, I think.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 3:53am

Jamie! I hear what you are saying and try not to take what you are saying about this kind of solidarity as an insult. You use words like gimmick etc but you yourself changed your Facebook photo to have the rainbow flag with the tag choose love to show your support for gay marriage (I assume). How was that any different to people showing their love and support to France?

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 3:44am

Great article that encompasses the terrorism we are okay with…

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 3:44am

so what have you achieved by staying behind your keyboard? you want to feel different from people? want to shine?
we are just trying to show support and you are here spreading negativity

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 2:58am

Facebook will not really ever be the place to thrash out the worlds issues in a series of shares, but it can gather some general improvement in understanding – if people take the time to read and think not just post and like.
The trick with FB is that one moment you are reading about the origins of terrorism and the next you are watching a dog eat a toffee… Makes perspective a tad hard to gain wouldn't you say.
I think what peeves me with the profile pic change is when people I see having no interest in anything controversial or distasteful are suddenly all colours and quotes. That's feeble. But then FB breeds some feeble, and rightly so, it's an outlet.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 2:08am

To the author, whilst you perhaps feel good that you’ve thought about this, put it all in writing and some people are talking about it; you could have written some things on how you proposed people could help. Bearing in mind that to some, the social media like filtering photos could be the best way for them to express solidarity and to some an utter of prayer is the most effective; e.g. people who are delimited in physical, mental and financial means and all they have is an access to a computer that perhaps majority are paying to use them by the hour. IT IS BETTER THAN DOING NOTHING. Whilst you write about how you feel; you could have also written something about what you are actually and practically doing apart from writing and observing how the social media is being used to promote and communicate an air of global solidarity in times of adversity. No offence intended.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 1:39am

You mention Palestine, yet you neglect to mention the Israeli's who are being stabbed daily by the Palestinians. Men, women and children. You, like 99% of the world, are driven in your opinions based purely on what the media feed you

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 1:27am

Not many people can do as much as you. sSome of us don’t have any friends from Paris. The least we can give is showing people from around the world ‘hey Paris, im from Malaysia will uphold you guys in prayer and we are for you (but sorry can’t be there with you). If can’t be there with them, then the most some of us can do Is change profile pic to support from afar…. After all, we are all so small..

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 1:13am

I never do the filter things.. but this time I did because this is in response to a tragedy and, equally disturbing, a sign of a larger future threat. It's the only way I know how to show my love & raise longer awareness on this issue. I know it doesn't articulate 1/100 of the grief I feel for these people.. Realistically, I don't think it'll do much in terms of future protection either. But I think that making it old news quicker sounds even worse.. Because although I don't want us to be scared, I really don't want us to be unaware of terrible capabilities of evil people. So this is my way of contributing to the media, in a loving way.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 1:05am

Being sanctimonious and critical of how others show empathy does not often win people over to your cause.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 12:46am

I didn’t change my profile either.. I almost hit the ok button to do so and then thought about it.. We’re in a new age where social media is the new press and what ISIS wants is to spread their message through publicity. If ISIS didn’t have a voice on Facebook, Twitter or was able to produce violent videos on YouTube they would not have as much of a hold on misguided 20 year olds who are brainwashed into putting on suicide vests. To defeat ISIS we need to silence them first.. It’s time for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to take responsibility for their roles in tragedy and actively start working on shutting down ISIS.. Creating an option to put up a French Flag profile is a cheap attempt to self promote their social network when they should be spending their money and time on tracking these bastards down..

    anonymous Nov 16, 2015 12:34pm

    Yes, I agree with what you said. TakingTaking real action by shutting them down is the most appropriate response, not whining about who’s getting the most social media attention and definitely not nitpicking at whether or not people’s profile pictures were changed. Where are our priorities? I was thinking recently about how to locate all the twitter and YouTube accounts that recruit these kids and try to flag them to be shut down! These social media giants have so much power and influence but are playing a huge part in these tragedies by allowing these accounts to stay active.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 11:49pm

I changed my facebook profile picture. but being from Iraq where we suffered indiscriminate terror attacks from the same groups for the last few years. I didn’t hear and not expect to hear people say we stand with Baghdad. but neither was said when it happened in beirut, egypt, russia, nigeria, Iran, thai, china, Philippines, indonesia or Israel. Nevertheless I’m fine with people expressing solidarity with France and I do stand with France. I just hope more people realize that we are people too. and think about the entire world. We should always have sympathy for each other. no country or civilians deserve it.

    anonymous Nov 16, 2015 10:11am

    Fromiraq, perhaps you would like to tell all of the young men and women from our armed forces who returned from Iraq maimed for life both mentally and physically that they did not stand by Iraq…. or the families of those who didn’t return at all. We are not perfect in the UK, far from it, but we give more of our hard-earned money in overseas aid than any other European country. And when we get involved we are wrong and if we do nothing we are wrong. The world is evolving all the time and we cannot get involved in every situation. There are too many internal conflicts and civil wars for us to understand. This week’s terrorist might be next week’s hero. Look at Martin McGuinness, former IRA terrorist, now a member of parliament. Things change. But there are many, many amongst us who have compassion for all of those who are suffering that you refer to and don’t you dare suggest otherwise.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 11:23pm

I’m sorry but I found this article condescending and a little self-righteous. I don’t post on fb very often and so when I am moved to use social media as a way of expressing how I feel it isn’t done lightly or cheaply. I changed my profile pic to the French colours because I wanted in some small way to honour those who were murdered. This may seem trivial to you but I don’t feel that way. This article plays devils advocate for little cause – it has nothing to do with real discourse on terrorism. I get the irony of my saying that and still engaging by commenting but your generalisations while I get are well-meaning are ultimately offensive and I couldn’t help but post something.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 11:14pm

How do you know if people doing this on social media aren't taking further action personally to help or do something else? Have you asked all of them?

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 11:10pm

I appreciate what you are saying here. While I do think that some people on social media are probably doing it because “everyone else is doing it” the majority really do want to show their support and they should if they want to. You have no idea how much it may actually help those in Paris to see the support. Also, how do you even know what those same people may or may not be doing beyond showing support on social media? Have you asked them all?

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 10:28pm

Alternatively, social media posts / profile pic changes can be seen as a tool for expression of grief, which most humans need to do with others who are experiencing that same grief. It may seem contrite in the big picture of impacting change, but publicly acknowledging personal distress / dissatisfaction / sadness allows others to feel comfortable doing so as well, and ensures that tragedies are collectively mourned instead of silenced. Both those who chose to change their picture, and those who comment about why they aren’t changing their picture, are contributing to the collective conversation about the tragedy. Both are preferred to no conversation at all, in my opinion. I feel hopeless about what happened in Beirut and France, angry about the misinformation that is swirling around, scared for my Muslim friends, terrified that it might happen to a band that I know personally next time, and disgusted with politics. The literal only thing I can do to ease any of these feelings right now is post about it on social media. So, I disagree with this article, wholeheartedly, because it completely disregards the need for humans to deal with grief and other emotions surrounding this tragedy in their own personal manner, in the way we do almost everything these days – through social media. The author’s assumption that people are changing their profile pictures as a way of “doing something” is very off-base, and elitist, too. She’s allowed to deal with her grief however she can and she shouldn’t judge others who chose to do it by changing their profile pictures, or assume that means they aren’t going to be doing anything else to change the world in addition to their actions on social media. I haven’t changed my profile picture because I felt it wasn’t representative of all the hundreds of thousands who have been affected by terrorism recently, but if there was something which would represent that I might do it. This doesn’t make me feel as if I have no other responsibility to affect change in the world. In short, changing a profile picture shouldn’t be associated with a person’s choice to affect changes in other areas of their lives. It should be seen as an expression of grief or community in the most active social platform available.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:56pm

I did apply the filter after giving it some thought. I will not have my emotions, and the expression of them policed by hipster randos on the internet.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:39pm

a typical hipster!

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:25pm

I respect your reason for not changing your profile picture to the filter; nonetheless those who did also expect the same level of understanding from those who choose not to (including yourself). Sometimes just keeping it to yourself is sufficient…rather than blogging about it. It’s similar to giving a minute of silence to the victims in official occasion…we choose to honour the victims by changing our profile photo (for a specified timeframe) as a symbol to our friends in France that they are in our thoughts and prayers. It’s the very least that we could do.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:20pm

I didn't write this article, but I appreciate her urging us to slow down and feel and change—that intention is not enough–it's a great starting point.

An author wrote this article. We believe in supporting meaningful dialogue, We don't need to agree with everything on elephant—this isn't an echo chamber Fox News/MSNBC yes-men club—rather, we need to support meaningful discussion. This world, God knows, needs to regain an ability to agreeably disagree. It's a good way to learn and grow, or see in the end that your original opinion bears the weight.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:20pm

I didn’t write this article, but I appreciate her urging us to slow down and feel and change—that intention is not enough–it’s a great starting point.

An author wrote this article. We believe in supporting meaningful dialogue, We don’t need to agree with everything on elephant—this isn’t an echo chamber Fox News/MSNBC yes-men club—rather, we need to support meaningful discussion. This world, God knows, needs to regain an ability to agreeably disagree. It’s a good way to learn and grow, or see in the end that your original opinion bears the weight.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:13pm

And here we go, French flag being projected all over the world and facebook makes a French flag DP filter. I wonder why FB never created a Palestinian flag filter where hundreds die each month? Or maybe a Syrian, Iraqi or Afghan flag? A Pakistani flag after 16th Dec tragedy? Its exactly this "Selective" Humanity and Imperialistic mindset which leads to hatred towards the west. I condemn Paris attack but i also condemn the hypocrisy of western imperial mindset.
#MarkZuckerberg #Humanrights #Unitednations #ParisAttack
A Muslim Can not be a Terrorist & A Terrorist Can Not Be A Muslim!

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:12pm

Jamie, the mere fact you wrote this post indicates you are trying to drawn attention to yourself or are acting like you’re ‘clued in’ or you wouldn’t have posted it, right? If your friends already know your views on issues like, why the long narrative? Sounds like trolling to me.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:00pm

People have all kinds of ways to express themselves why would anyone stifle that expression or even comment on it? Waylon your conversation with the author in the beginning is judgmental and bordering on “knowing better”

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 8:36pm

The people of Paris were brutally attacked. Yes, other places were also brutally attacked, but let us not diminish the attempt of people sharing their condolences by politicizing the issue. Let us applaud every attempt to comfort those in need without demanding that more be done.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 8:36pm

I have friends and family that live in Paris and before the checking in, using the check in feature, we weren't sure if they were okay. In Irish tradition you light a candle and put it in your window for those who you want to find their way home, or for spirits you want to find you on certain nights. Changing my photo was my way of lighting a candle in cyberspace for my friends and family when their status was still unknown. I think that this symbolic act, something I do in daily life (light candles for people) is something that achieves a sense of hope, and loving kindness that is visible to them.

I wouldn't change my photo if one of the other places you listed had an option because I don't have family historical roots there, and I don't know anyone there. Many people in Canada have historical roots and extended family in France because we have a large French speaking population here, which is why you probably see it a lot on your news feed. I don't think that changing my profile picture has done any harm…

I've actually seen more people bitching about the profile photos than sending well-wishes to France. Pretty sad.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 8:29pm

Coming from a man who is far away from france, don't know anyone from france and cannot send some money for support, changing my profile picture does mean that I care because as of now, that is the only thing I can do for the tragedy.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 7:50pm

Thanks so much for posting these thoughts. You really put a finger on exactly what I was working my brain around to figure out why changing my profile picture is just so discomforting. Yes, it is thoughtful and whatnot, but you hit it on the nail– you’re only showing your online friends that you care. What does that matter? How does that help the afflicted families? It doesn’t. Will they feel better when FB publishes the statistic: “1.2 millions users changed their profile picture to support you!” (since that’s the only way they’ll know). Well, I hope it does, but by really empathizing and not making it a gimmick is what counts. This is a complex multi-national issue and changing one picture will not make a difference. Actively researching, taking a stance, volunteering, spreading knowledge, voting, etc. that’s what will make the difference.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 7:36pm

“Would you also change your photo if there had been an option for Lebanon, Kenya, Nigeria, Turkey, Palestine”

Palestine? Would you care to elaborate what terrible terrorist attack befell the people of Palestine? I’d hate to think you would sneak in a cheap political smear against Israel into this heartfelt plea for kindness and compassion. It’s pretty obvious to anyone reading this that “one of these is not like the others”.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 7:24pm

I was just waiting for the super self-righteous person to declare loudly that they were not going to change the colors of their Facebook picture for reasons x, y, and z. “The people I know in Paris—or any other place that is hit by tragedy—are in my thoughts and in my messages; I just don’t feel the need to broadcast this to the world” but you do feel the need to broadcast to the world in an article that you’re above changing your Facebook picture to show your support. Right. In addition to assuming that all of us who have changed their photos aren’t inward-thinking about the events and haven’t thought about the implications of the tragedy in addition to the tragedies occurring in other countries and what all of this means as a whole. You could have posted a more effective post without criticizing a giant portion of the population. Grow up girlfriend!

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 7:12pm

I agree with Phil… my knee jerk reaction is how unbelievably ironic it is for someone who predominately writes about females being judged on their looks ends up being one of the biggest bigots of the Paris attacks. Seriously Jamie, that anecdote about how you and your circle of friends responded kills me. I haven’t read any response to the Paris attacks that have been so shallow besides Ann Coulter and her kind.

I wrote an impersonal response on my facebook page which asks you the rhetorical question of whether not a little is enough. I in no way shape or form think you have the right to lay the burden of the world on everyone’s shoulder. Nor do I think you have the analytics to back up any kind of data that suggests people who sympathize with Paris did not or would not sympathize with previous atrocities. You’re bringing about an issue that doesn’t even exist, so here on this forum I’ll ask you, what is your flipping problem? Nobody thinks you’re a bigger person for chopping people off at the knees.


anonymous Nov 15, 2015 7:05pm

Comments may only be seen by friends but profile pictures can be seen by anyone. If you don’t have connections in Paris you really don’t know what to do to help. Coming from someone who lost a dear friend 3 years ago I support the profile picture change just seeing profile picture after profile picture in memoir of the person(s) that passed gives you comfort to know your pain is being heard and people are in the way they can are reaching out to you to show their condolences and support. I myself have my settings to friends and acquaintances so more people can see if I post anything like this. You don’t have to change your profile picture or post something on social media to show support but for many that’s all they know to do or can do if they may be struggling in life themselves. So to say it’s simply a “quickie photo change” or “media frenzy” is demeaning to its purpose and disrespectful to the people who don’t think of it like that. It is a memoir for the deceased. Just like the photo, flower, and candle setups you see being placed around Paris. Memoirs are memoirs no matter where they are. You don’t have to participate and you’re not a bad person for doing so but be respectful of people’s feelings on both sides of the profile pictures.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 6:56pm

I didn’t change my photo because it looks good or I wanted other people to think I pay attention. I did it because I felt terrible and I don’t know what else to do. I don’t personally know anyone in Paris, but I felt what a horrible, unjust tragedy this was, just like there are horrible, unjust tragedies in Kenya, Libya and elsewhere. I agree that changing a profile photo is the least we can do, but at least we are recognizing there is a problem. And if I was a victim of the attacks that would still mean something to me.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 6:41pm

I think it’s insulting for you to assume that people who change their Facebook profiles to show support ARE NOT doing other things, particularly, when you, the author, did not suggest what good things other people might also do AND you did not provide examples of what you have done yourself. Because in addition to praying and changing my profile photo, I have worked on behalf of human rights, for decades. I have volunteered, I have lobbied (not for pay), I have demonstrated, I have written letters to world leaders, I’ve talked face to face with legislators, I’ve spoken up, and I’ve donated my time and money. What else would you have me do? What else have you done besides “read?” You don’t know the people who do this. Why assume what you don’t know? And where do you get off telling other people what and what not to share on Facebook, or anywhere else? Symbolism and solidarity in times of tragedy is natural, and essential. We are social, empathic creatures. It’s a good thing. There will always be some bad apples. Don’t take what is a good thing and try to make a point when you have not demonstrated what actions you yourself have taken.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 6:21pm

We do it because we are sending a message back that we are united against these forces of evil.

It all makes a difference, not EVERYONE sets their FB profile to super-secure.

These dregs did not commit these atrocities as a battle in war, they have not made a dent in our population. They did it to send a message and deal a physiological blow… By unifying which is making global headlines, we are responding by dealing our own physiological blow and sending THEM a message that they have not broken our will, they have merely strengthened it.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 6:06pm

I see that you have plenty of time to write a long, impressive article about your opinions on the act of changing the profile picture on facebook or any other social media. I don’t hate it, I love how eloquently it is written, and, for the sake of world peace: I honestly can’t wait for you to walk all the talks you’ve written above. It’s very true that we all can do better than merely changing our profile photos, exactly the way you said it.

By the way, on behalf of many other curious readers here, I have a few questions for you:

What kind of “walk the talk” are you suggesting that is better than the act?

Would you be walking all the talks in your impressive article?

What are you suggesting to those who are compassionate but under no capability to reach out to the victims (poverty, disability, economic, politic, etc)? Are you suggesting these individuals should not be grieving at all?

What do you plan to achieve by writing an impressive article like this?

Actually, my last question, what exactly have you done?

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 5:11pm

I appreciate the call to action, that yes we should transcend changing profile photos mindlessly but also this article makes some assumptions that needs validation: 1.) That people do mindlessly change profile photos to be 'on trend', and that 2.) people who do so have no desire to take action. I think the profile photo feature exists as an avenue to express support, like writing a status or a tweet on how we feel about what just happened. Why can't we just celebrate that? It's cool Facebook provided that avenue. I read this article ranting about this but lacking suggestions on how to take action concretely. Would appreciate some info on what we could do further if that's the ask.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 4:54pm

Your point is well taken regarding meaningless actions. You should do things with a purpose. I think you could have gone further. Your wrote a lot, but didn't say much substantive. Sorry if that sounds harsh, it wasn't meant to be. What actions can you take to support a beleaguered population. What would you like to see to support the Syrians being slaughtered by ISIS? How do we prevent the terrorists from using our goodwill as a shield to import terrorists to a well meaning land. Complicated issues. Sometimes changing the facebook photo says just that. I wish there was more I could do because I recognize your pain. For now, this is the proverbial "light in the window" Paris. We're thinking about you. Sometimes that's enough until we can figure out the next steps.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 4:36pm

Completely agree with all this. To the point where it was quite strange reading this, as I almost felt like I could have written it.

It would be interesting for people to question their logic using different examples. If Jerusalem was the victim of an attack, I wouldn't use an Israeli flag filter as my picture (despite having some very good Israeli friends), as that might suggest I support Israel's actions toward Palestine. It is the same here – I have some very good friends in Paris and thankfully they are okay. However for me a French flag doesn't represent them, and I'd worry that people would think I am showing solidarity with the actions of the French government if I were to use the flag filter.

The other issue is that by representing the nation state of France as the victim, you are doing EXACTLY what the perpetrators want you to do. The terrorists cite the French government and their bombing campaign as the reason, but the French government were note the target or the victims here. The victims were the innocent people who got killed, and my solidarity is with them rather than the flag.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 4:04pm

This person states in her article that she is in the middle of this violence??? How??? By reading and researching about it.. Try living it honey, then u can speak about being in it…

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 3:30pm

I understand the sentiment of this article. But isn't anything (including changing profile pictures) that brings awareness to this situation a positive step? The fact that it took "Paris" to get many to look deeper into the impacts of ideology and terrorism isn't the best situation. But is could be pivotal in gaining the support needed for change. Social media will always be a part of that moving forward.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 3:22pm

“I won’t be adding the French flag filter to my Facebook profile photo.

I’m also not writing condolence and prayer messages on my Facebook feed, tagged with #PrayforParis.”

Except that you did on your twitter? Or is this article just about Facebook.

    anonymous Nov 16, 2015 3:11pm

    Great point, exactly what I previously pointed out about walking the talk and actually taking the steps the post-it note quote that was attached to the EJ email and believe that is those steps were taken, this article possibly would not have been shared or the author would have wrestled out her own discomfort or criticism of why she doesn't like the issue at hand.

    "I’m also not writing condolence and prayer messages on my Facebook feed, tagged with #PrayforParis.

    It is not because I don’t care, or that I don’t feel the profound shock and sadness for what has happened.

    In fact, it’s because I find it so absolutely awful that I’ve chosen not to engage in this way. I feel that just changing my photo, writing a few words and a hashtag on social media minimizes (even cheapens) the tremendous, horrific reality of what is going on all around the world, not just in Paris. From suffering arises another trendy social media gimmick, another way for us to show the world how “clued in” and “with it” we are."

    Twitter: " Jamie Khoo ‏@effortlessjamie Nov 13

    Oh my god. What's happening to our world? Love, light, thoughts & prayers to all in France #PrayForParis"

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:51pm

No one spoke up when the Nazis started to terrorize Europe and look what happened. People need to start speaking up against terrorists, even if it is only a Facebook post.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:48pm

I put a similar sentiment onto my Facebook page and got some polite flak from some people on my friends list for doing so. They claimed that they stood ‘in solidarity,’ but as I asked, with whom? In what? Is it really your fellow man or just your fellow man that looks like you and lives quite near you? Like you, I think that changing a profile picture – indeed, doing so by dint of an automatically available app that does it for you – is not a gesture that speaks of anything particularly profound nor generous. Rather, if people read an article on ISIS, or Saudi Arabia, or the traditional, peaceful message of Islam, then we would all be a lot further forward than we are by these Mexican-wave show gestures. I’ve seen friends post incredible right-wing hatred on their walls today, whilst still grinning up from underneath the ghostly colours of the French flag – it’s a horrid mess of nonsense and misplaced sentiment. Great article, thank you

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:47pm

The thing is, it’s not about superficial support. It’s an immediate way of showing up and showing solidarity, a way to throw up your peace sign and join a larger community of people who will stand against terrorism. Don’t be so quick to assume that act is all we’re capable of, just click a few buttons for a new profile pic setting. Your article is demeaning and self-rightious.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:40pm

I understand the sentiment being expressed here; but I think it’s a rather selfish perspective in the sense that it only imagines what changing a profile picture means to and for the person changing it. It would also be worthwhile to find out what acts like this mean to and for the consumer of such acts. I can tell you as a victim of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans that such expressions of solidarity in the wake of tragedy are comforting. It doesn’t matter whether people are changing profile pictures for gratuitous or selfish reasons, or whether it’s accompanied by a greater self reflection an the need to do more. If I were French, simply logging onto Facebook and seeing my flag appearing all over the place would make me feel better, as it did when strangers expressed solidarity with New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Their intentions or follow through didn’t matter to me then, and I suspect it doesn’t much matter to the French now. What matters to those on the receiving end is simply knowing people care.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:35pm

I think it’s a way of unity on a very vast level. I can’t do anything. I have no words. I have grief for them.. It’s not a lot, they’re right. But it’s something. Seeing all the people who are able to come together, even with just social media, is positive. People who are on a high horse need to get off of it.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:23pm

Actually it’s not just your friends who see your profile picture, it is public. It shows support and I m certain 99 % of those who changed their profile did it because they really felt the need to show their support. And it Is something a beginning maybe. So please stop trying to be clever. It would have been worse if there was no movement like this. It’s visual it motivates it’s good and leads to more. You should change your profile picture as well instead of lecturing others.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:15pm

I know this is a repost of Jamie's letter by someone else so this is to both the sharer and to Jamie.

I am a writer myself, and think and write a lot about issues that affect me, the world, humanity. Often these thoughts aren't published or put out into the ether because it's my personal way of working out my thoughts before I decide how to act on them. I have seen that a lot of people on here are unhappy with this article. I myself am not angry or upset about you expressing your feelings on this matter. However, what you have said has warranted a reaction from me.

In short:- Saying why you personally aren't using social media to show support in a 'tip of the hat' sort of way about the horrors that have happened recently is fine. Unfortunately, using an open letter and then allowing someone to share it on a social site will be seen as hypocritical to some and ironic to most. Especially as you have taken the time to write a detailed article about the problems with social platforms when your writing career and publicity you will get from writing articles such as this, is greatly enhanced by them. In addition, stating in the same article that putting messages of condolence and prayers on a status isn't actually doing something practical is somewhat misplaced as personally, writing a letter or article is very similar to someone writing a status. You've used a slightly self inflated way of putting this idea across and your very eager to not tread on any toes and to sit on the fence in some areas which also renders this article a little defunct. To me, it doesn't feel articulated in a particularly helpful way. It seems to have been a more cathartic process for the author. The main essence that something must be done is true – but this comes in all forms. There have been books and ideas and mistakes and love that has changed the world. Most people in all of their wonderful, unique and personal ways do their best and the least practical thing to do, moving forward, is to write an article/letter judging how people choose to grieve and react to tragedy.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:58pm

I know this is a repost of Jamie’s letter by someone else so this is to both the sharer and to Jamie.

I am a writer myself, and think and write a lot about issues that affect me, the world, humanity. Often these thoughts aren’t published or put out into the ether because it’s my personal way of working out my thoughts before I decide how to act on them. I have seen that a lot of people on here are unhappy with this article. I myself am not angry or upset about you expressing your feelings on this matter. However, what you have said has warranted a reaction from me.

In short:- Saying why you personally aren’t using social media to show support in a ‘tip of the hat’ sort of way about the horrors that have happened recently is fine. Unfortunately, using an open letter and then allowing someone to share it on a social site will be seen as hypocritical to some and ironic to most. Especially as you have taken the time to write a detailed article about the problems with the social platform and then complaining in the same article how writing something on a status is not actually doing something practical. Writing an article is very similar to someone writing a status. It’s a slightly self inflated way of putting this idea across and your very eager not tread on any toes and to sit on the fence in some areas which also renders this article a little defunct. To me, it doesn’t feel articulated in a particularly helpful way. It seems to have been a more cathartic process for the author. The main essence that something must be done is true – but this comes in all forms. There have been books and ideas and mistakes and love that has changed the world. Most people in all of their wonderful, unique and personal ways do their best and the least practical thing to do is to write an article judging how people grieve and react to tragedy.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:27pm

Whilst I agree it should totally be a personal decision to post the tricolour over your Facebook page I would like to explain why I did it. After having a great evening in with friends on Friday night I woke to the shocking news about Paris on Saturday morning. I live in an entirely different country and felt helpless. Only 2 weeks ago I was in Disneyland Paris. I wanted to express my horror and my upmost sympathy to France and those who lost loved ones or who were caught up in the terror. I have been amazed and touched by the response on social media. It has shown me that most people object to this senseless violence. It also shows that everyone everywhere feels for the people of Paris and understands that it is only by chance it was not their city. Everyone expresses their grief their own way and for many people this is the only way to say they support those who are suffering. It is unfair to criticise that no other flags were used. We live according to the information we have and for many of us the killings in Paris were the first we heard and that is why it resonated so much everywhere. I would say to everyone join together always and express how you feel in the way that means something to you. Above all do not turn on each other. We need to stand united against this fanaticism. Liberte, eternite et fraternite

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:22pm

stop “shoulding” on me! stop telling me my “needs”

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:19pm

Ugh. Another reason that I cancelled my Elephant subscription. I think you all are receiving so many comments that you are categorizing as “hateful and bigoted” is because this article comes of as hateful and judge-y itself. While I might not necessarily live my own life on social media, openly sharing every single joy and grief, many do, and grieving takes many forms. Perhaps if this article did not come off as so superior, there would be less offended readers. There’s nothing wrong with being shocked, outraged, and/or saddened by the horrific attacks in Paris, and wanting to make some small show of support- if only on Facebook. The author wants to call out the online community for not providing enough aid to terror victims or for not doing enough to help end the problem? Fine- but why do it by implying “It’s stupid and probably shows a lack of moral character and empathy for putting a flag filter on your FB page!” Whether or not that was the author’s intention, that’s the way the article came off- and clearly not just to me, otherwise you wouldn’t feel the need to defend the author’s intentions at the very top of the page.

    anonymous Nov 17, 2015 12:51am

    Amanda, why else did you cancel your EJ membership?

      anonymous Nov 19, 2015 2:40pm

      Well; not 100% sure this thread is the best place to discuss it but, since you asked: the "Yoga for Black People" thing several years back didn't help. I didn't comment back then- I'm not usually much for conflict, I generally prefer to silently lurk online, absorb what seems useful and positive to me, and try to let the rest roll off- but I regret staying silent and not expressing my unease over the post; part of why I commented on this one. In the years since then, I have found that I extremely dislike the inordinate amount of clickbait, inappropriate-sounding headlines (much like the one for this article). Also, I'm uncomfortable with the tendency for editors to write snide little pieces that feel like attacks on "rival" yogis and bloggers (if there truly is such a thing in community which professes itself to be based on Buddhist ideals and yoga). The whole incident with Chelsea a few years back (since removed from EJ, I think) made me uncomfortable, but there was still enough about the Journal I liked to continue contributing. Slowly however, I feel like the content has gone away from being about a loving community of folks with enough similarities and common purpose to celebrate and embrace our differences to one where hipsters gather to bask in their superiority and point out exactly why they are so much better and more progressive than everyone else. For a while I contributed simply because I liked the notion of EJ being funded by "small amounts from loving readers than large amounts from controlling advertisers" (Facebook post by W); when I found that I was no longer a loving reader, but more like an offended bystander, gazing in unhappy malaise at content riddled with judgment and negativity; I stopped contributing.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:15pm

Great comments and what you say is so correct. The wanton violence from so many people mystifies me. I think it is a personal choice that I respect to change one’s colors. I also feel that we need to be careful in who we pick and choose to as victims of violence. You subtly cast Palestine (as do many on the talk back) as suffering from violence and completely ignore the ongoing stabbings, shootings and other means being used and espoused (such as songs encouraging children to “stab a Jew.” Either we condemn all violence or live with the fact that it will continue until we do.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 11:54am

I never do these things either. I skipped the rainbow flag, never used a hashtag for sharing compassion. I just share my thoughts accompanied by a good article. But it hurt me to see the entire world lit up blue-white-red, and oh yeah, something happened in that Middle-East part of the world too.

So, for once, I superimposed the Lebanon flag over my profile picture in support. Not because I am so attached to the country, but to make people realise that their compassion is incredibly unequal. The Middle-East doesn’t really matter. A lesser cause.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 11:46am

Your article is beautifully written and true, and above all I think that no one should have to justify why he (she) does what he does. Sometimes it’s just a matter of a moment, of a feeling, people change their photo because it feels right to them, without further thinking about reasons. Some do it because many others did, but not because they blindly follow the crowd, but because standing together, especially in these kinds of situations, gives a reassuring feeling of being safer when not alone. Because their friends who lost someone might feel less alone by seeing it. They do it because they have the right to feel what they feel and express it, without people questioning them or interpreting the reasons they know nothing about, just as others have the right not to change it, without it meaning they don’t care, without it being a reason for others to criticize them.
Thank you.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 11:44am

We are all supportive and we are all praying for the souls of those killed in Paris. Those are private emotions and feelings of individuals and they express them the way they want. I think there is no need to use this moment when even if u differ from others in expressing urself to make own voice stonger than others’, just do as feel like and let other behave the vvay they consider correct, don’t try to be special….

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 11:16am

I’m sure most in France would take the solidarity over your sanctimony right now.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 11:00am

I find this very insulting. Social media is our worlds way of showing unity like no other in the past. Why not use this new technology to let our friends know that we are thinking and praying for them? I would never post prayers without personally and silently praying. Don’t use this as a way to disclude yourself and try to put a negative spin on what people are trying to do. This is an act of humanity, however small in nature, and every bit helps. We are showing Paris that we care, and that we are with them. Not trying to show others that we are “in the know”. Speak for yourself. I will do whatever small part I can to let the people of Paris know that I deeply care and pray for them, along with the rest of the world. Together everyone is making an impact with their small parts. It is by little acts that people unite and those small acts add up in a big way. I don’t expect all of Paris to see my caring, but when everyone joins together to show their love then it cannot be ignored.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 10:47am

“I don’t feel the need to broadcast my support to the world…but I DO feel the need to broadcast at length about the fact that I’m NOT broadcasting–and about how that makes me connected in a much more REAL way than everyone else”

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 10:43am

I used to have the same opinion as you, that people are just jumping on the bandwagon and doing something easy in order to feel connected.

But I live in Paris, in the 11th where most of the attacks occurred, and to be honest, scrolling through Facebook yesterday when I was home all day because the government had urged people to stay off the streets made me feel a lot better. It reminded me that Parisians aren’t alone, all the pictures and status’ of love and kindness brought a smile to my face while I sat inside refreshing news websites for more information.

Just my experience from someone in Paris.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 10:32am

People are so worried about being counter cultural that they miss the point. This article is worried about filters and posts being gimmicky expression of sympathy that cheapen’s the tragedy? However you express solidarity, you can do nothing to “cheapen” the tragedy. The world was robbed, we lost so many heartbeats in paris, in Lebanon and in japan. Whether its a social media post or a wreath laid on the stairs of the french consulate. All it says is that we care. its a symbol. Like a poppy on November 11th, its not my job to go around and make sure your wearing a poppy for the right reasons. Im just glad you wearing one because acknowledging tragedy matters, standing with the suffering matters. How you express it doesn’t. This kind of trendy counter culturalism doesn’t help express solidarity, its an empty gesture showing how unmoved you are by “Trends”, how austere and authentic you are in your sympathy. I’d advise this the writer of this article to write about things that matter in moments of tragedy, to share things online that matter. This isn’t different then sharing a pray for paris post, its just more self oriented.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 10:20am

Shouldn't Facebook be under scrutiny here? They implemented this new feature, so they should provide an explanation as to why they are being so selective.
Why all of a sudden did they decide to rush out a new feature after this incident?
Why have they not done this for other countries?
How do they think facebook users in say Lebanon would feel seeing this new rushed out feature available only for France?
I'm sure it would be upsetting for Lebanese people to see they have not been given the same 'solidarity filter' for their countries atrocities.
Perhaps facebook only rolled this out to Western countries that back the West in war?

Something is definitely off with this new feature, and the reasons behind its implementation.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 10:16am

Shouldn’t Facebook be under scrutiny here? They implemented this new feature, so they should provide an explanation as to why they are being so selective.
Why all of a sudden did they decide to rush out a new feature after this incident?
Why have they not done this for other countries?
How do they think facebook users in say Lebanon would feel seeing this new rushed out feature available only for France?
I’m sure it would be upsetting for Lebanese people to see they have not been given the same ‘solidarity filter’ for their countries atrocities.
Perhaps facebook only rolled this out to Western countries that back the West in war?

Something is definitely off with this new feature, and the reasons behind its implementation.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 10:08am

I support all people on earth. If there was a world flag, I would change my profile photo to promote that flag. Fighting fire with fire, isn’t the solution. We need to stop giving Isis the recognition they just accomplished. The more we focus our attention on some extremist group, or groups, we are giving them exactly what they want. As hard as it seems to say this, Love is the ultimate answer that will heal all wounds. My prayers are with all the families that have suffered these horrifying situations. We need to start with our youngsters, by teaching them to Love, not hate, and that goes for everyone world wide. We need to stop believing that we hold the only truth to anything, and just except that there will always be a diversity in our world, lets embrace it and Love each other where we stand. Theses extremists need more love than anyone else, because they are filled with so much hatred in there hearts. I’m not saying to go and hug or love a terrorist, I’m just saying we need to start with love, and love is the answer. Putting walls and barricades up, isn’t, that is living in fear, and fear is the opposite of Love. If you put a wall around you… you are just creating more fear within the constraints of that wall.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:59am

Hi I don’t suppose you would read this and I’ve never written comments in public forums before but I just had to say that your post captured almost exactly what I felt I’ve been thinking since the incident. Some of these opposing comments might make sense, but I believe it is a matter of perspective here. Personally I feel people, too many people, on my news feed, people whom I know personally to never give two shits about current affairs – not even this – change their profile pictures to a flag filter or hashtag a pray. I’ve seen more than a few people on my feed have SUCH casual conversations on their new profile pictures that now have more than a few dozen likes, and it makes me feel that these people are just glad they got the social attention, as they always do.

Some may also argue that you (and I) have changed our pictures in lieu of the passing of gay marriage in the United States, so this may very well seem hypocritical. I post pictures of graduation ceremonies and the amazing food I have each day, but (while some of you might) I would not choose to mourn any deaths over social media. A few likes and shares isn’t going to help me feel better. Before you post a status, I’m sure most of us know truly, what we seek to achieve with it. At least I do, and admittedly sometimes all we want is a little recognition. But no, not on the expense of people who died at a massacre. That sickens me so much.

That said, there are those who truly mourn for the victims and wish they could do more, just like I always do, and facebook gives them the option to do the only thing they can. Again, to each his own and I hope we can be united at such a crucial moment for humanity.

Thank you again for the article.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:59am

Hi I don’t suppose you would read this and I’ve never written comments in public forums before but I just had to say that your post captured almost exactly what I felt I’ve been thinking since the incident. Some of these opposing comments might make sense, but I believe it is a matter of perspective here. Personally I feel people, too many people, on my news feed, people whom I know personally to never give two shits about current affairs – not even this – change their profile pictures to a flag filter or hashtag a pray. I’ve seen more than a few people on my feed have SUCH casual conversations on their new profile pictures that now have more than a few dozen likes, and it makes me feel that these people are just glad they got the social attention, as they always do.

Some may also argue that you (and I) have changed our pictures in lieu of the passing of gay marriage in the United States, so this may very well seem hypocritical. I post pictures of graduation ceremonies and the amazing food I have each day, but (while some of you might) I would not choose to mourn any deaths over social media. A few likes and shares isn’t going to help me feel better. Before you post a status, I’m sure most of us know truly, what we seek to achieve with it. At least I do, and admittedly sometimes all we want is a little recognition. But no, not on the expense of people who died at a massacre. That sickens me so much.

That said, there are those who truly mourn for the victims and wish they could do more, just like I always do, and facebook gives them the option to do the only thing they can. Again, to each his own and I hope we can be united at such a crucial moment for humanity.

Thank you again for the article.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:51am

So, I do agreed with you saying that there are other countries in despair, and question what else are the people who changed the picture doing to help with the situation. First of all, I don’t really think that people care as why you didn’t change the picture, thats your choice. But, after YOU explaining why you didn’t change the picture, what else are YOU DOING to help with the situation in Paris, or any other of the countries that you mentioned. As much as you want to say that you are not judging or attacking the people who did change the picture, YOU ARE DOING SO. You are even questioning their actions by saying, Will you change the picture if it was another country like Nigeria, Turkey, etc. So, explain to all of us who did change the picture, what are YOU DOING? How are you recognizing the people who were attacked, murdered, etc.? Enright us and tell us, what should we do to make things better, given that you seem to know what should be done. Or, did you just right this article to complain about the people who changed the picture, and you are doing nothing either? What was the point of your article then????

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:50am

hey… the biggest problem I have with this is the assumption that colouring one’s photo and posting prayers is just keeping up with a social media trend. As a middle aged woman I know that my friends who are colouring their photos and posting prayers are doing so because they are moved and are praying and this is how they are spreading their seriousness of the tragedy. There is scientific proof that prayer helps raise the vibrational energy of the planet. So stating that you’re a pray-er and are praying now for Paris inspires others to do the same. The more people on the planet that are praying and even just thinking about the tragedy and sending positive loving thoughts to those who’ve been traumatized, the better! Why make a judgement and spark a debate? This is not the time for intellectual antics. Put down the computer, close your eyes, connect with your higher power and ask for love and light to be focused on Paris and all the people that are hurt and heartbroken from this horrific event. Bless everyone involved especially the insane men who executed this act. Ask for all the world to be blessed and so it shall be. Healing will come. Understanding will come. Love is an action word. Love is the answer in all it’s shapes and forms, especially prayer and in my opinion the courage to show your colours.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:41am

Maybe you wrote the title to this article in such a way so as to attract more web traffic to read this, and hence more advertising dollars. If you did, you might have succeeded, and congratulations to you and your website. This is the power of the modern media; if a small action like you writing such an article can help influence or achieve something , then the small action of changing our Facebook DP can also help achieve what we intend to do, that is to spread awareness or love or just to show our support. No action is too small. To show concern or support for a person does not mean that we have to do a hell lot of actions, sometimes all it takes is a pat on the shoulder or a hug (without saying a word).

    anonymous Nov 16, 2015 9:47am

    I personally know that the author did not write this to gain web traffic or advertising for this site, because she didn't even write it for us originally. We asked her if we could share her personal post after she wrote it, just to add it to the mindful dialogue surrounding the issue. We welcome different points of view. A lot of the abusive comments I am currently deleting seem to say that many others don't. ~ Travis

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:34am

The comments here of the few people from France are telling, and are why I’m keeping the filter on my profile picture. It’s the least I can do, especially when I live in a country whose second official language is French.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:29am

I did not change my profile picture to show solidarity. Of course I feel bad for the people who have been hurt, but the reason why I changed my picture is because I want IS to feel threatened. They have to realize that whenever they touch Paris or New York or even the smallest German village, that they are touching the whole western world. I do this to treathen IS. We have to show that the western countries are unified and that we’ll bring them to their end together #tousensemble

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:27am

First I want to start by saying I do agree with what you are saying. I also feel that I need to say though what else would you have us do. Not everyone can afford to send money to ANY of the countries. I have family in Paris and the surrounding countries and as much as I would love to help there is not much I can do. I Ann showing my support for not just Paris but for all the countries that had lives lost. I want to see the people behind this brought to justice and if that means my family leaving to go fight that’s a sacrifice we are willing to make. I would hope if or when that happened that our troops get half the support that Paris is getting now. I also hope that of or when that happens I will see a report on here telling people so they are aware.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:21am

The very fact that you are announcing to the world and sensationalizing that you are NOT updating your profile pic status as though it’s a great virtue …. itself is trivializing the tragedy and disrespecting the victims of terrorist attack. Paris attack is not same as Lebanon, or Libya, Egypt or Pakistan. Dont paint all with the same brush. In those countries islamic terrorism in homegrown. In paris, it was sneaked in, imported! Because in those countries islamic terrorism is occupational hazard. In paris it is a terrorist attack. That is the difference.

After reading your explanation, I decided I must change my Facebook profile pic now and drape in French Flag.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:11am

It’s not about skating Islam or anythin like that, it’s showing terrorism that there’s no place for it in this world. Yes there’s awful things going on everywhere in the world but everyone has struggles and of course we will support them but the temporary Facebook colours are, in my view, a sign of respect and a visual thing that helps remind everyone who sees them that we’re all together in this fight and we will continue to stay strong. As an individual I’m not going be able to do much so what support I can give and show, I will. We have to show them that we’ll fight until the end, that’s what everyone changing their pictures is about, standing together as one, a thing that unites us.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:02am

What else are we supposed to do? How else can we show our support and solidarity?

Changing Facebook photos is the only way Joe Bloggs has of showing that they care, that they are thinking of the people there, to make the Parisien people feel like they have someone to look to.

To answer the question of whether I would have changed my photo if the same had happened in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, etc., the answer is no. These countries are in an almost constant state of war, either with other nations or with themselves. War is the status quo. They are constantly fighting over land, religion or power. That is tragic, but France is a country that has been at peace since the Second World War and the recent attack occurred in the streets where normal people were having dinner together, socialising with their friends, watching their favourite rock groups. They were unprepared, and attacked without warning. This is why the Paris attack was so atrocious and the attack in Lebanon, whilst also deplorable, does not come as such a shock.

Changing my Facebook page is the only way I have to tell the people there that I am thinking of them and the people that I know there, that I am here for them if they need me. It will not scare the terrorists, it will not stop it happening again, but I do not have the power to do that anyway.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 8:59am

I myself also find it kinda … sickening or strange that so many of those striped pictures have a wonderful, happy, pretty, posed and smiling picture behind … so odd, don’t people see it themselves as something quite odd and obviously superficial (you don’t go to a funeral to show your sadness, support and respect with a shining wide smiling face, do you?).

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 8:42am

I have never changed my profile before when something like this happens. What I am learning, however, is that collectively we evolve and collectively we don’t. With the help of your many great posts, I can actually visualize a more humane, peaceful world and I want to share that optimism. Thank you for yet another thought provoking article.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 8:41am

Amen sister.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 8:15am

You obviously have never experienced one of these tragedies in your community. The show of solidarity you receive from other communities and people means more than you will ever know. My experience was at Virginia Tech. When people changed their Facebook profile picture to our school emblem, knowing that they were thinking of us in even this small way was comforting. We were not alone. So, I do it to be part of the collage / sea of pictures like this that make a larger impact.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 8:11am

Come on. People are trying to do a nice thing. You are pissing me off.

I understand your point, and I’ve never been compelled to change my profile for other causes, but it should not been seen as a negative thing in ANY way. If this is how people show their respect for those killed in this attack, then they should be praised for this small gesture that simply shows that other people in the world “care.” And changing a profile picture does not mean people are saying “Muslims are the problem.” I’m outraged by this attack and even though I’ve lived France for 2 out of my 30 years I don’t know what else to do other than change my profile picture and let people I know in France that I care. People might think it’s dumb or stupid, but it beats what most other people out there will do- go back to work tomorrow and move on with their lives. I will not being doing that, and I appreciate the people who are showing their support, even if it’s trough a “trivial” profile picture.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 8:10am

I agree and understand where you are coming from. For me, being Canadian, I am more connected personally to what happened in Paris then what has happened in some of the other countries. With the French flag filter I am also showing my love and respect for my immediate neighbours, and the French speaking population of Canada. Any amount of peace sent out in the world is a stand against violence, harm and racism. There are several people I know, respect and love who are of different faiths then my own. We stand together in our love.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 8:00am


This is exactly what I was trying to explain to some close friends of mine, but I couldn’t find the words. Thank you for expressing this and further hitting the main points of going the extra mile to make social media content actually mean something.


anonymous Nov 15, 2015 7:52am

i am proud to be Human as I read the comments and not only i agree full heartedly with your point of action, but i also agree that any action ithat demonstrates solidarity and awareness is worthy of its ” cheapness” even if it did take a few seconds to do, those few seconds thst petson stopped whatever they were doing , to join the milions of peope who took the same . That itself is huge, for a few seconds they honored. the victims and joined the dennouncment of violence .. I wasnt obviously offended by your article , i did not interepret that you were belittling others , you provided another perspective. The TIMING OF your message I believe could have been considered . Right now every human should be offended and sensitive by what happened in Paris and if all they could do to express in such so be it and i would still kiss their hands for doing such and i applaud you for wanting to unite people to do more ..message well taken

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 7:46am

I respect your opinion…but, it is in times of such intense, over the top grief…we are left without words. Nothing we can say will fix this. The people of France are hurting beyond belief. We change our profile picture as a symbol, that we stand with you France. We acknowledge your pain. It is our virtual hug. We are here. We are listening. If there is something else I can do, by all means, let me know. But, for now….France, know that I am here by your side.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 7:45am

I believe that showing support anyway you can will help make a difference, what am I a single mom with little money to do? I cannot afford to fly over there so I show my support by acknowledging the tragedy and bringing it to light, I don’t post nasty comments, We all know where the issue lies.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 7:23am

I can understand your reflection as a natural reaction of inferring the flag as a gesture of solidarity for the victims, but in my case, and others most probably, is not exclusive to “European” victims. In fact, I do not feel even as a Spaniard, but as a dweller living in a much larger world, where there are no borders nor materislitic mind-straitjackets. I also see that it can be tempting to point the finger at the flags swarming across facebook, but what you are saying is not a standard of values for everyone. Particularly, I share my house with a Syrian friend, and we continually talk about what is not said in the news, all of the possible geopolitical strategies that remind me something out of a surrealist film where nobody plays fair.

I think we should go beyond obvious criticisms, like that of pointing the finger, “Look, those people showing the flag!!”, as if they were unaware of what is really going on, or more unaware than you, the critical eye. I have also lived in Lebanon, and made many Syrian and Lebanese friends, whom I keep in touch with still, and who are present in my heart and thoughts. The realities you are trying to grasp are more complex, and if you want to point your finger to the flags, which maybe makes you feel better, perhaps you’re precipitating into an endless loop that does not let you see what is really happening. Nor do I like too much or dislike the French flag. It is simply a gesture of solidarity or rather a tricolor image to show “solidarity” according to my life experiences and knowledge. My gesture not only means what you want it to mean. Please, do not limit o frame my worldview according to your narrow or excessively quick interpretation of the use of the flag. There are more important things and causes in the world that need yor attention and service.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 6:44am

I agree with some of the points in your article. Often serious matters are trivialized in social media. However, I think your title and your judgemental tone sucks. Its hard to feel your compassion when you come across as a cynical, moral authority. It makes me question your sincerity, because although you may not change your profile pic on social media, it feels like you wrote this piece more to bolster your own popularity as a writer. I hope this is not the case. There is no way for me to be sure, just like we can’t assume or be sure of why people change their profile pics.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 6:34am

broad minded, you read the situation like a book. don't post if you do not have concern .. period.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 6:13am

Rather cynical view if you ask me. It seems like you’re saying changing a profile profile or using a hashtag is less about genuine compassion than trying to get others to see you in a certain way. Are your projecting maybe? Because yesterday when I wrote a post on Facebook expressing my care and concern for the people of France, what anyone thought of me was the last thing on my mind.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 6:09am

What a waste of energy to criticise people for showing their sympathy, their empathy. You are a smart and educated person, make use of it for something more constructive. Plus, a remark for you : in the list of the countries suffering of violence perpetrated by hatred, you forgot quite a few. I will only name Israel. It is this country's every day life to be the target of hate. It has nothing to do with land of occupation or anything like this. It is hate for another religion, for a free country. The only one in the area. When the world will understand that the terrorism there is the same here, we will be one step further.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 6:02am

Thank you for having the courage to say this. You captured what was going through my mind yesterday as I watched all of the "support" for France. As I see from the few comments I read, it is not a popular response, but I believe an honest one. Social media can bring people together during a tragedy, yes, but to question "why" we are participating in the "support" is valid. I agree that anyone can "filter" their profile and post a comforting quote and feel like they are doing something meaningful, but it has a danger of becoming an empty gesture that says more about the person posting than extending any kind of aid or comfort. Who is actually seeing those posts? Only the poster's "friends". How does this at all help the victims OR the situation?

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 7:29pm

    Tell me more about what you're doing "to help"?

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 10:32pm

    It doesn't. That's not the point of it. The point is to feel connected to a community of people who are all mourning the same tragedy. Why should you, or the author, dare to blame them for wanting to feel conntected after a tragedy? No one expects to end terrorism with a profile picture. That is in no way the point of it and never was.

    anonymous Nov 16, 2015 7:27am

    How can my friends showing support for me be deemed as an empty gesture? You are one very uncompassionate person if you think only the victims and their families have been affected by this attack. The whole city of millions has, we are mourning, what does it matter if only the poster's friends see it? It is a comfort, a hug and show of unity against terror by the whole world. Today as I read the names of the victims I sobbed and sobbed and I have no family here to hug me so those symbols of support are vital to me. You don't have anyone in France that you care about, I get it, but don't belittle others who do.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 5:57am

But I bet you all had rainbow pictures! We all were supportive then. We need to be supportive now. Really think through why you were supportive of gender equality issues, gay marriage, etc. And why you do not want to support the french people now. It is the why that is important. Why one over the other?

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:31am

    No, I didn't then either. I had nothing to do with the movement and gay marriage has been legal in my country for years.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 5:57am

I m French live in France , born in France and it s mean more than my words , it s the country of freedom ….I have friends around the world …. I m very affecting but this drama and I find very lovely and adorable that my friends support peace in world not just France , French are fighting against wars around world , since many years ur border are open and we help around the world with the bleu helmet army , very sorry Amy to not agree with you , you may on day understand who know .
What s a pity this article , I should be more open mind but today my heart is hurt

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 5:56am

My view in changing my profile pic to Paris flag filter is to show sympathy and prayers. This is only what I can do for the meantime since I am miles away from France and can do nothing else to extend any help. This is how I express the tragic feeling inside me, the loss of value for humanity. This is a message to the perpetrators, hoping that somehow they will finally realize what they have been doing.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 5:55am

I'm struggling with the hypocrisy of this letter to be honest. You write to tell others to consider why they are addressing the atrocity on social media and to suggest that people should make an effort to make a real change, yet your post itself shared your views on the atrocity but I couldn't see where the author himself had made the effort to make a change? How is that letter any different to changing a profile picture? It seems that he has told everyone to think about how they chose to show their emotional response, while his letter has shared his own opinions on what had happened. #prayfortheworld

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 5:53am

to each their own.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 5:17am

We seem so eager to assume the worst in one another. That if we are so greatly affected by the attacks in Paris, we automatically don’t care about goings-on in other parts of the world. That if we stand with Paris or with Charlie Hebdo, we are Islamophobic. That if we use the Facebook profile pic filter we are shallow. That if we post our own photos of Paris we are humblebragging. That moments of silence meant for solidarity are deliberate pauses in the important discussions on the refugee crisis, a step towards the “apolitical” and “indifferent,” if you will.

To the people who have said any iteration of whatever it is I mentioned above: are you trying to make the world a better place, or are you trying to feel better about yourself by making it seem that you are far more intelligent and aware than the rest of the general populace? That somehow you are not part of the horde that mass-posts about Paris and are, instead, an enlightened individual free from the “Western imperialism” that pollutes media? Is this a matter of making people better and kinder to one another, or a display of your moral ascendency over everybody else?

I am deeply bothered by the idea of people thousands of kilometers away hijacking this tragedy and turning it into a platform for their self-indulgent “intellectual” rambling. That somewhere, someone is burying a loved one and their overwhelming grief is not overwhelming enough to render silent the guy who wants to discuss media double-standards. That some people cannot shut up for five minutes about their Pet Cause of the Day and let people grieve and stand in solidarity with those who have lost their lives to senseless acts of terror.

Your Facebook friends flooding your timeline with ‪#‎PrayforParis‬ are not the enemy. Why some people feel the need to target them is completely lost on me.


anonymous Nov 15, 2015 4:37am

I’m not sure how helpful an article is that basically says “Well I’m not going to do that, I’m gonna do something better.”
Why not just do what you’re compelled to do by way of support without any judgment of how others show their support?
The headline here is a great attention grabber, but that’s not why people are displaying the French flag.
One of the most powerful things we can do as humans is to simply let others know “We’re with you, you’re not alone.”
Yes, there’s plenty of other cases of violence and terrorism for which we could show compassion, and I wrote a little about that this morning here:
I have pasted it at the end of my comment here, for anyone who does not want to go to Facebook.

And a piece that came to me yesterday when in simply sat with love:

I am writing and sharing, AND I have chosen to change my profile picture as a simple act of compassion and love.
I’m saddened that you think such displays cheapen the horrific reality, I find your headline does the same, but of course, we’re all just expressing an opinion, often out of frustration of not really knowing how best to show our love.
I admire what you are doing in your work, and much of your expressing here, but it need not be related in any way to how others choose to express sympathy, compassion, unity and love.


Would you judge me for mourning the loss of my mother or brother? Despite many losing theirs in other parts of the world to barbaric acts of war? At the time of my mourning the passing of a dear close friend, with tears rolling down my face and an ache in my stomach, would you come to me and ask “Yes, but what about Anthony in Lebanon who also lost his mother yesterday?”
My mourning of those closest to me, and my display of solidarity and compassion for my neighbour does not mean I do not have love for everyone in the world.
Yes, I could set my profile picture as a mark of compassion for those who have recently lost loved ones in Beirut, Baghdad, Damascus, Nairobi, Jerusalem, and so many other places the world over. And no, I did not know of the recent atrocities inflicted upon these people, until I did.
I embrace that I am a human being, I live in an illusion of separateness where I am mostly obsessed with how life looks within the concept of time and space in this realm of human form. Part of that illusion is the concept of some being closer to me than others.
I might be more conscious than others, I might spend more time practising awareness of the illusion and conscious love than others, but I also embrace my humanness and all that entails.
Within that humanness I will feel compassion and grief much more deeply and personally for my own mother or brother than I might for the equally beautiful human being I see maimed in some attack on the news. This is not a representation of any relative value of human life, it is a representation of my humanness.
If this were not the case, I would unlikely be able to function.
I let go of the battle of the ego that wants to make it an endless quest of self-judgment to change this aspect of my being a regular, loving human being.
Of course I understand that world peace will come from us choosing love over fear, and I choose to be part of that by my expression of solidarity and compassion for my neighbour, not in an exclusive way, but in an INCLUSIVE way. I invite my neighbours, this weekend in France, into my usually small circle of intimate grief and personal compassion, and whilst an idealist might suggest that my inclusion needs to expand to include everyone who is part of this human race, I know that if each of us embraces our neighbours in this way, we will all feel loved and at peace.
If you have withdrawn your small act or display of solidarity because you have told yourself some version of a ’should,’ you have acted from fear and judgment.
All of us have neighbours whom we usually exclude. Each of us need only make this small, local shift of inclusion to impact the world. We do not need to grow spiritually, become some masterful advocate of global love or suddenly lose our individual identity and become an Earth citizen. We are already those things, even if we don’t see them.
For most of us, the small act of loving kindness and compassion we may have shown our neighbour this weekend is already an expansion of unity, one that I know is very welcome to those affected by the events in Paris.
As a human being I have learnt to take the next step from where I already am, not from where my judgment says I should be.
Wishing you all Love and Peace. <3

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 4:18am

Ive chosen to change my profile and will keep it that way. Its not for higher ideals or hoping to make the world a better place. Its for those that have lost their loved ones in this atrocity, to know that I care about what they are going through. Pedestals and higher calling are for the idealist, we have to learn that all our human experience comes down to doing what you can, when you can. This is it for me

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 4:00am

I completely understand this and thank you for this well thought message. I also had second thought before turning my prof pic red white & blue. But as of the moment, its the only way I have to show support. Its my only way to help make other people aware of these situations.

Im too busy serving my own countrymen through social protection projects and i hardly have a time for other things like hearing the news. That’s why i was not aware of the happenings in Beirut or Baghdad until i saw what happened in Paris in Facebook. My purpose is to spread awareness to my network through Facebook. its not much but i know that reaching a single soul might create a bigger domino effect – maybe i can reach a friend willing to volunteer, or maybe i am able to inform friends about how close they are to a danger. If i can do more, i would. But as of the moment, with this tiny window of a time i have, its all i can do. And i know it will be worth it.

Still, this gesture might warm some hearts. Even small things like that can make a difference. Unfortunately, not all people have the means to do more on certain things. Just saying.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 3:48am

If I overlaid my photo with a flag every time a tragedy happened, the image would remain black forever.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 3:32am

I just cried my eyes out. What is the use of your post? If anything you have made people feel bad about showing solidarity. Surely we need to come together? Not raise yet another point about how some people do things on social media for the trend. I feel like your post is doing more damage than good, totally superior and self important. Why change something good into a negative? That is totally what you have done for me. Made me feel bad about changing my profile picture to show my support and I’m sure many others too. I wish I was a stronger person so it didn’t upset me so much.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 3:07am

I hear you. Point well taken… However, it's
Not necessarily about solidarity, I understand, but UNITY. The point is to come
Together in the face of such heinous, violent acts to say we are Not afraid and we Stand united. Each and every one of
Us has a choice how to communicate this as you do. Why you choose to go
"Public" when you don't generally I don't fully understand. I think we all get the message –
And We all want a way to show support for one another. So don't be so quick to
Shut that down either. Division is not the answer right now – UNITY EN
MASSE thank you. These barbarians will not win! They are a minority. Let the mAjority stand together and show their support however they feel they can. Small gestures in volume add up. It's
Compassion and empathy. That's it.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 3:05am

There is nothing going on in Palestine at the moment (except terrorists attacks that targets Israeli civilians but you don’t really seems to care…)

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 3:04am

So have you come up with a solid plan or any initiative on how to overcome al these? Simple people only do what they can do best, to sympathize and show solidarity even by just changing their DP in white, blue and red.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 3:03am

I love that everyone does whatever he likes ! That’s how I like the world ! =)

Now if I approach the question you’re debating from a personal point of view:

I am French and I live in Paris.

When I see my FBfriends from allover the world puting on the blue-w-r colors my heart jumps: I know they know what’s going on, I know they feel concerned and try something to be supportive (even if the french-flag isn’t the best choice: it was chosen by FB).

When I see my FBfriends without the b-w-r colors I think: they might not know yet, or if they do, I understand switching your photo to a symbol that might be interpreted in so many different ways isn’t an obvious choice (I hesitated a while myself). Overall: it doesn’t affect me (at all), it’s not something YOU HAVE TO DO, just a gesture of sympathy.

But when I see my FBfriends sharing your article, I feel: gosh ! They really miss the point… And that makes me quite sad.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 3:02am

What was your reasoning for using the Pride rainbow filter on your profile? It was ok to broadcast your feelings on that subject to the world? You didn’t feel like a sheep then? People have also suffered and died from homophobia and that is why people feel strongly about showing support for the eradication of homophobia. The difference please?

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 2:51am

The author says there is no point changing her profile pic as her Facebook settings are highly private and only friends would see it. This shows a complete lack of understanding. Her profile and cover photos are there for all to see as are many posing selfies. Well done on your misplaced superiority. I stand strong with the rest of the world in seeking peace and damning radicalisation and extremism. I wanted to show this and as I don’t have time to phone or write to billions of people, I changed my Facebook profile photo.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 2:47am

I think it is a nice small thing to do, she makes it sound like it is not a put down. Then why the long article ? If not then just not do it & not say a word! Leave the rest of us to show respect in our own way. There is always someone who has to put others down, & say but they are not!~

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 2:42am

Ironically, had people not changed their picture this article wouldn’t exist. The point of all “media” is suppose to be the spread of awareness and education on what is going on outside our individual bubble. Due to people changing their profile, (to follow trends or not) satisfied the purpose of media by creating awareness. People can choose how/when/where/what they do with this information. Media doesn’t have heart people do. The “picture change ” serves its purpose and its noone else’s job to judge that. Instead of debating the picture why not use that time and energy to pray or research ways to help.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 2:40am

I just wanted to offer a little insight in to why I did change my photo. I too have privately messaged my loved ones in Paris (as I do elsewhere that I have loved ones when shitty things happen). My support to them is what actually goes without saying  but usually I say it anyway. I profer the cliched crap we all spout when things go wrong and people are hurting because what else is there to say. I am not offended by the choice to NOT change the photo and certainly not angry. I am, however, disappointed that no matter how passive and inclusive this author tries to be they merely succeed in celebrating their own informed, worldly and enlightened state. Everyone must start the journey somewhere to awakening and seeking the truth that is too often obscured. If it begins through my changing my profile picture or them changing their own then who am I to snub that. What matters is they took the first step. It may appear meaningless but the organised groups see those they attack as disperate, disconnected and disorganised. I like to think thst whilst checking social media to see their “martyrs” being celebrated they will realise that many of us are willing to stand together and oppose them and what they stand for regardless of nationality or religion. Its not like I can call them up and tell them what I think of them. I would be the first to challenge them on every level if I could do it in person. It should be clear when every ‘person they may know’ has a blue white and red flag over their picture that people are standing together. Thinking of those grieving I would hope the demonstration would mean somethjng to them. In fact, to anyone in the world afflicted I like to think it signifies to them that they aren’t alone. That there are conscious people out there who are working toward change and who will help in any way they can. The assumption that the act of caring started and ended with changing a profile picture is definitely negative though. There is no way around that. The author has no idea what the people changing their pictures do on a daily basis to make the world a better place in whatever way they can. I don’t like the authors assertion that by not making the picture change that they stay true to their awareness of world suffering they see and feel daily. I find it sanctimonious and also feel it seeks to negate the fact that I and others who have changed their picture do hurt when humans suffer….every day! End of the day inclusiveness and cohesion in these circumstances will always win for me over rejection of something popular.  The author can’t preach peace and say they desire to see humanity unified whilst separating themselves and moaning about the way in which others decide to come together. I am pretty sure that someone wise once said that the world won’t be saved by those who do and say nothing. That how I feel. No matter how small, it’s the act that matters.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 2:37am

As a Parisian who was near the attacks on the night I was shocked by some of the immediate social media cynicism, conspiration rethorics and ‘intelligent’ distantiation at a time of grief. All we need right now, as we’re still under shock, is a testimony of care and support, not a cold-blooded analysis. The symbols and rituals might not be ideal and suit everyone but let us not dismiss the fact that they can warm people’s hearts and make a shaken group feel they’re not alone in the eye of the strom. In a few days time, when we’ve all recovered our spirits we can think more globally and analytically and shift our empathy where it’s most needed but right now these visible (obvious) signs are the reassuring lighthouse for a ship lost at sea.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 2:37am

How is writing this article any different that posting #prayforparis or changing your profile picture? If anything this article is doing less good by saying I care about Paris but I'm better than you by not doing theses things but I still care about Paris…

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 2:32am

Did you changed you profile pic filters to the Nigerian flag when 148 Nigerian girls were killed in a terrorist attack?…what did you do show you care for the people who died in Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan.

Im a sri lankan & we had an ethnic war for over 25 years against the terrorist group that called them selves eelam tigers. .over 25 year over 100,000 people died..suicide bombing n war n handful of people knew about or gave a Shit!

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 2:09am

Imagine if everyone on social media had the same outlook as expressed in this article. Would the response to the tragic events that occurred on Friday be as impactful? If not for all this social media coverage, probably not. Don’t you think that this “shallow” portrayal of solidarity raises awareness of terrorism, not just in France, but all over the world? It may not be all that significant, but awareness is a step towards change.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 2:06am

In times of tragedy like these, if I were you, I think I would be equally mindful about not coming across as challenging people on the way they choose to express their solidarity for fear of further exacerbating people's feelings of disempowerment at a time when we are all oppressed by the tragedy, and at a global loss for what to say or do. A status change is a small thing, but if that is all people can do today, why question it? If we could nurse the injured or make ISIS stop doing these things right now, we would. But it's unlikely. You shouldn't make people feel like their small acts are not enough & while I'm sure you weren't planning that, your hatemail should be an indication that you might be missing something important. If you can do more, than show us how and what you are doing. Don't muse philosophically on the need for more depth in the way people express themselves. People want to feel they can make a difference to the situation right now & if the only thing they can do is change their profile, whether as a trend or a deeper way to show their values, then let them be.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:52am

Smart and Wise Opinion of Smart and Wise Young Lady..

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:46am

“Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”… this is what this symbol means. it means that it is time for Humanity to raise and do a Revolution. A inner and an outer revolution…to put this universal core of Human Rights high in our awareness.. for all living beings… Knowlege of History is essential to know the meaning of a symbol…

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:39am

I changed my photo because I was speechless and I am still speechless. True, there are so many other places on earth where people are suffering . Many flags could be arised. For me it’s a symbol of being so much in touch with suffering at this moment. My heart wide open and not excluding anybody or any sentient being. As you said it depends why one does it and not stopping to be active in many ways, going forward making contact with people. We have so many refugees in our country, we can do so much. Little gestures, talking, offering some time, just be there is so important…

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:38am

Over 200 Russians die in a plane bombing and the West gloats that they deserve it. Makes you wonder.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 3:00am

    What?! Ridiculous and inflammatory and exactly what we should not be saying to each other. Nobody "gloated" or anything approaching that.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:25am

Red means ur angry

White means grief

Blue means peace and unite

It’s not just a flag we are here to unite to fight terrorism and violence.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:21am

I liked this post. I've been feeling the same today. There is nothing wrong with hashtags and changing profile pics, but I'm sure we can do better. What can we do? How do we fix this, heal this? Our world is hurting. Recently there were bombings in Baghdad and Beirut (in fact just days before Paris) but almost no one mentioned it. It's sad.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:19am

The title of this article intrigued me. Such a non-conformist stance but what point are you really trying to prove? Get over yourself. The world needs more community – so share it.. Don’t write an article on why you are against it.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:02am

'a hashtag on social media minimizes (even cheapens) the tremendous, horrific reality of what is going on all around the world' – Cheapens?? Seriously? Social Media is an incredible platform where people can engage on a global level and show support and love especially in times like this. Its things like this that will change the world, spark a movement and inform people of such events. How dare you condemn anyone who is attempting to express their condolences and care amongst such hatefulness.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:01am

I posted this on my wall to draw attention to a similar idea that you are expressing in this article regarding the value of changing one's Facebook profile picture or posting a poignant status. However I vehemently disagree that it trivialises the issue. In fact, social media is a form of self-expression that encourages us to come to terms, through grief, with the traumatic events that have transpired. In no way am I saying everyone should change their profile picture but rather can we recognise that for some, and let's hope most people, that it is for the right reason, because that is what matters.

"We grieve because as humans we can empathise and extend our sorrow to those who have fallen victim to terrible circumstances. I, and many others, have witnessed a great beauty in the surge of support the global population has displayed through social media for Paris, Baghdad, Beirut and places of conflict or violence around the world.
It has taken me a period of mourning and consideration to post this version of a prayer because yesterday I was grieving for the loss of humanity that our world seems to deny a solution until it is on our doorstep and thus too late. For me, a period of introspection was an expression of my deep sorrow for the motivations and consequences of the Paris terrorist attacks. In the same way, individuals, communities and nations banded together to express their emotions through social media. Our actions were of no less value depending on who we prayed for or with. They were inspired by our humanity.
However, it frustrates me to see some individuals degrading the capacity we have as members of the globalised 21st century to publish our emotions to the world. As a human community we share a connection with over 7 billion people and the loss of any of those connections is significant. Significant enough for us to feel scared at the world we live in. Significant enough for us to want to feel secure in the world around us. Our prayers are for Paris, for Baghdad, for Beirut, for the child soldiers of Africa, for the trafficked women of South-East Asia and for the end of numerous other examples for why our world is flawed. Yet the recognition of our world's flaws is what stimulates our cry for peace. And the expression of our grief – through introspection, public announcement, or social media post – is what stimulates our feeling of community, and hope that our cry for peace will be heard.
We only have one world and one life to enjoy, explore and embrace. There is no need for every person to 'conform' to make a status or update their profile picture. The idea that people know you're grieving is not the purpose of grief as reconciling traumatic event and emotion, but it can be a personal mechanism to alleviate a mental burden. Respect that everyone will interpret and deal with these events in their own way. Rather, take this chance to reflect on the value of our actions and the opportunities we have to experience the unfathomable faith and inspirational power of humanity."

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:54am

Over the years, I've been involved in various progressive actions involving various issues in the Middle East, and the wrongful accusations against all Muslims for the actions of a few. My ability to be active has diminished in recent years, but I continue to do what I can — such as spreading the word about various atrocities worldwide.

In regard to France … I refuse to eat in places that sell "freedom fries," and my FB profile pic is now in tricolors. Other than that, I have done nothing for France. My tricolors are there in support of the *people* who were in Paris on that hideous night. And I continue to spread the word on Beirut (attacked the day before Paris), and Palestine, and Ferguson, Mo, and …

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:51am

Thank you for writing this. I completely understand where you're coming from.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:48am

This is the new World we live in.Damned if you do damned if you don't.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:44am

People have their ways of showing grieving process. Consider it a sign of respect for the deceased. We honor those lives taken too soon. En Paris or anywhere in the world.

A virtual grieving process we all have now.

The mind is powerful this is merely a tool to show how we simply care. Some of us have a different way of grieving.

Some play music some create artwork.

Its colors of the flag. We shine the colors of the flag and show the Peace sign. A symbolic way to hoepfully defeat the Evil that grows within our community.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:35am

People have the right to choose their way of support. Just do what you think is right but if you are explaining a lot here, meaning you doubt about yourself.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:35am

Conspicuous compassion vs compassion. We need to learn individually and collectively how good it can feel just to do the right thing without having to let people know about it.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:33am

I hear what you are saying Jamie but I do strongly believe that walking the walk begins with talking the talk. There has to be a beginning. A great many people begin their journey with changing their profile picture as a means of showing solidarity. I agree that solely doing that will not necessarily bring about real change but it does get some people questioning what else can be done.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:29am

I do understand what you are trying to say, but I do not agree. We all know how hard it is to get some people involved. It would be great if we all could do more, but for many people that is not an option and others simply will never take that next step. However, changing your profile pic to show your support can never be a bad thing. When we were attacked on 9/11, the compassion and support from people all around the world was very comforting. It shows that we really are not isolated from one another even though most days it feels that way. I am proud that so many Americans are showing their support by sharing a fb pic. Seeing thesee pics/posts will inspire some people to do more which in turn brings positive change. Even if it is just a pict, remember "No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted" ~ Aeso.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:26am

I suppose my question is: what is the purpose of expressing publicly your personal reason for not changing your profile picture? Isn't it enough to simply abstain and allow people to change theirs for their personal reasons? Maybe I'm missing the point of some higher meaning to this article. We don't know what is in the hearts, minds and actions of everyone who has changed their picture.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:22am

The hashtags and prayers are equivalent to sending a card to strangers during a tramatic difficult time. Stop minimizing what society is able to do with Social Media to show support, concern or prayers that could not be done 15yrs ago. I've never had a victim or a person mourning tell me that these gestures are insensitive and or shallow. Are you a victim or a parisan of this experience? The message needs to come from the appropriate person with the credibility to see your point. Let me sum up your message ME me me me me. I won't do this and that!

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:21am

Changing my Facebook to the temporary One with the French flag is my personal equivalent to raising a flag to half mast. I live in South Africa and have been exposed to much death and suffering on many levels, it is not always possible to help in every case but when I have the chance (such as the flag) I will always show compassion and respect for my fellow man and those who died or were injured in the name of politics/religion/war.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:17am

Solidarity no matter what form it takes is a powerful gesture. So..yeah I don't agree with anything that was stated by this young gal. Everyone copes in different ways and maybe through showing our solidarity we can feel human gain through tremendous tragedy.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:13am

Totally missed the point. Personal involvement and direct helping hand is all well and good. But what direct involvement can you do when you are in a different continent? A show of solidarity – change into red blue and white on facebook profile is a silent support. and it is very powerful. Let us think from our heart, and reflect our most spontaneous responses. Let not our overthinking analytical ego take over. Let's do the first thing we feel like doing. I change my profile picture because my heart is moved to. So does the rest of the world. Keep logic to classrooms. Please.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:13am

Would you also change your photo if there had been an option for Lebanon, Kenya, Nigeria, Turkey, Palestine…

Palestine is not a country – Israel is. Any reason for the deliberate exclusion? Especially since it suffers from constant terrorism.

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:00am

"I'm not saying you should not change your profile pic…" Yes. You've said that about ten times in the article. We get that you're not telling us NOT to do it, but you still think it's shallow if we do. Clearly you are the bigger person here, and you want us to understand that – but we can still engage in our shallow ways, if we wish.

If you're telling us to think bigger and do something nice, and helpful, and kind… maybe you should do the same and let people process this event in the way they feel free to without making them feel bad about their choices.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 11:59pm

You lost credibility from the start with your title. I’m curious as to why you believe there was even a need for you to explain why you didn’t change it. Secondly, you say that you support others doing it. However adjectives you used are “minimizes” and “cheapens.” As well as stating your way of responding to a conflict is “more meaningful than just merely changing” your picture. Sounds more judgmental of those doing it than supportive. I don’t have friends or family in France to contact and offer support to, so I change my pic to show support in any way I can. I actually wept over the loss of innocent lives, did you? Would it have made you feel better knowing people in other countries were changing their pictures to the American flag after 9/11. It would have for me, and I’m willing to bet the majority of US citizens. Would you have told the people who did so, “no, don’t do that, you’re ‘merely’ changing your pic, and it only ‘cheapens’ what happened on 9/11”? This is not the article to write to try and show how social media has desensitized us. While you told us how changing our picture is wrong in so many ways, you did not offer one other way to show support. Other than contacting the people you know in Paris.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 8:45pm

    Well said Brian..I fully accept your views..Let this world awake . We in India have suffered innumerable such attacks for the past 1600 years. We have lost millions of lives so far conflicting with ruthless Neighbors. Somewhere the end to this madness should be achieved shortly by framing special rules and world order, I wish.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 11:45pm

There's so little else we can do. Someone said, "send money." What money? Change or don't change your personal profile. I won't judge you. It's your call. We change profile pictures, really, to acknowledge something that is greater than our selfs or selfies, to fly the French flag so that our friends and relatives in France know that we care, and to create a cohesion in tragedy that transcends polarizing party lines or political beliefs. Or at least that's why I changed my profile picture.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 11:36pm

– feels critical of people who express public solidarity with words on social media – – remarks about how own social media feed is super-duper private (because this is all solidarity theater, right?) – – writes public blog post about it that goes viral on social media –

… … …

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 11:33pm

I just browsed through this article, real fast. I couldn't find a single actionable item. Please lead by example what are you doing to improve the situation apart from writing this article which takes a subtle jab and makes a judgement at other people's intention. Who said we don't care about Beirut, Iraq, Nigeria. I live in the UAE. These people are our brothers.
Like Gandhi said " Be the change you want to see in the world."

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 11:23pm

The author is mistaken on one point, changing your profile picture is the only public change you can make when your settings are private. It's not something only your friends see. For me, especially after a gay friend's suicide, seeing the rainbow colours on profile pictures across Facebook after gay marriage passed really gave me hope for a tolerant future. What you see as pointless gave me real comfort.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 11:08pm

Highly recommended – any of Ken Wilber’s books.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 11:04pm

I also haven’t changed mine. It is personal. I’m just feeling like the world is crazy and I’m frozen, reeling from this but at the same time too desensitized to feel that anything I do will make a difference anymore.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 11:00pm

I agree with Maria. I am part French and a great deal of my family lives in Paris. It was comforting to see the solidarity of the flag today. It also reminded me that Beirut, Nigeria, North America, Iraq, and many countries faced horrific attacks by radicals as well. There have been thousands of innocent lives killed over religion. I feel that you are making a rash generalization on a movement that people are simply showing that they have had enough of the world-wide massacres. It is a message of urgency that we need peace and love via social media outlets. Maybe you need to read and reflect what is truly going on in the world. I suggest the following article as a starting point: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wants/384980/

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:54pm

Follow your own advice.

Much love <3

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:54pm

There are good intentions behind this show of support but it seems to facile to me and really doesn’t do much to actually help the people who are bearing the pain of what happened. And,even more troublesome to me, these colors are frequently covering photos of happy, sometimes clowning people who seem far removed from the pain and devastation being experienced in Paris. Let’s not add insult to injury in our expressions of unity. Perhaps there is a better, more impactful way to express the sadness and anger we feel over what has happened.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:51pm

What happened to Paris actually helped open people’s eyes on what’s happening in the world. With it, other things happening are being highlighted by social media and the news but calling people out because of how they want to express their feelings to a particular event and implying that its shallow is quite condescending.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:50pm

I haven’t the means to do more than show empathy for the situation. When it comes time to tally the supporters, i don’t think i will be included just because i added the French flag filter to my FB profile pic. It is more of a testament to my gratitude and knowledge of the history between France and America. Gung-hoers that refuse to acknowledge publicly this tragedy they are supposedly in sympathy for- behind the scenes- mean nothing to the suffering families in France that a simple picture filter could state. It is the only way I am able to show sympathy/empathy. I want my friends and associates to know where I stand with this. Nothing wrong with being transparent.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:49pm

that who has a little brain will understand your article, the rest of people still asleep, won t.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:43pm

“I don’t need to broadcast this to the world” – i find this funny because that is what the essay is telling me. It sounds defensive and trying to be noticed. That’s my opinion of course and everyone is entitled to have one. 🙂

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:34pm

I hope your (or their) message somehow empowers caring and compassion for those suffering. But I doubt it means much to anyone but cynical, self-centered pretentious folks like myself.

What does changing our profile pictures mean? Maybe someone in France will know we stand with them. What does nothing do? Nothing.

Are there other countries, and other recent attacks, also deserving our attention and solidarity? Definitely yes. What does doing nothing do? Nothing.

This article makes that abundantly clear. There is so much to mourn today. Yes. So let’s do nothing? No.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:31pm

Thank you for saying exactly what I said minutes after #prayforparis and all the other hashtags started trending on Instagram once the news got out. Everyone wants to feel the solidarity after a terrible event and there is *nothing* wrong with that, but the way we do it has become so contrived that, to me, it becomes meaningless. As I said to some friends on IG – “Unless you’re a raging psycho, chances are your feelings on any terrible event are pretty clear without the “prayfor(insertcityhere)” hashtag. If you wanna offer thoughts/prayers on tragedies, do so. Just say it. Don’t add 8 million contrived hashtags to your post so you, too, can be part of the trend.” We create slogans for tragedies. We “trend” horrible events. People race to be the first one to post something in this social media world.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:15pm

Agreed. Not sure though why you fail to mention the country of Israel, when referring to the many places facing loss and violence, yet refer to ‘Palestine’ twice . Seemed pretty pointed omission/inclusion… Otherwise, good op ed.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:13pm

For some people that is their full range of emotions, running a photo through a filter to express unity is the most able they are able to express their feelings about it.

    anonymous Nov 16, 2015 2:15pm

    I think that this is an extremely valid comment. I agree, that we are all not on the same level of awareness, consciousness and emotional activeness, although we are ALL human. Much of the EJ's postings are about slowing down, creating unity, accepting people where they are, learning not to judge, being compassionate, tolerant and this article seems to be contrary to their own creed, despite it being a great article for searing discourse. Understanding that each person has their own path and embracing the person/people for where they are at that moment, trying to force enlightenment or teach people is difficult, as I believe it will happen, if and when it does, from within.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:13pm

It’s a statement of coming together in the face of tragedy. It’s a remark of saying we love you, we understand, we are here. And we are on you side. This was a terrible act & we love you.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:12pm

I’ve never made a negative comment about an article, but I have to agree that this one “misses the mark”. I completely understand what I believe the writer is trying to say about our actions to stop violence being more important, but to say that a filter on one’s profile picture or a hash tag “minimizes or even cheapens” such a tragedy without knowing the intent of each and every one (or the decision makers on social media) seems a bit harsh. I felt the same way about the “ice bucket challenge” because I have a family member who is wasting away due to ALS, but here is what I realized…some will be genuine and some will not, but attention to tragedy is good regardless. Attention to tragedy helps to bring support in the form of needed finances, care, prayer, and love. I know that the young woman’s intentions are pure. It is my opinion that the article could have been written with a less judgmental tone.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:12pm

Spot on and well said. Hashtags and profile pictures will not bring anyone back. Saying ‘pray for Paris’ is quite crazy in a modern world where hardly anyone prays any more. Actions speak louder than words or hashtags.

    anonymous Nov 16, 2015 7:01am

    What a cold hearted response. Prayforparis isn't about literal prayer although it can be. It is about sending a thought, a hug, a moment of your time. These things matter to people who are grieving and believe me Paris is grieving. I sobbed like a baby today during the minute's silence and you say actions speak louder than words so please tell me what actions of comfort I can expect from you when I don't even know you.

    anonymous Nov 16, 2015 4:45pm

    "hardly anyone prays"?!?!?!!? NINETY PERCENT of the world is religious. Yeah you may be in an area or country with little religion, but that one area/country alone hardly represents the entire population. Many people can't really help personally with action, yeah we can throw money at anyone and everyone (if we have the money) but love is also needed. No matter how much money you throw at someone during hardship, nothing will ever be good again without love. And how can those people receive love from strangers?? SOCIAL MEDIA. I don't personally know anyone from the Paris attacks, doesn't mean I don't care about them, but the only way for me to communicate my love and support if through social media.

    Dont insult other's valid opinions.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:09pm

“Every day, as I sit with the reality of all this violence, I wonder what it would feel like to have a truly equal, peaceful, respectful, loving world; and how we can begin to make that happen in our own small sleepy villages or heaving city centres, wherever we call home and whatever may be happening there.” I think a great place to start is to not IN ANY WAY imply that a show of care and respect is trite . That is exactly what you did. How do you know what people are doing and thinking and why would you assume the worst? How could you possibly know that this hasn’t changed their hearts or way they behave?

“What else could you be doing—whether or not the news is filled with distressing headlines—that would be (more) meaningful, bring about tangible support, in your world right now?” Perhaps if your article were entirely about *your* answer to that question and inviting people to join you in *your* tangible actions it would better serve your own point.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:04pm

The author asks a valid question. Would I change my profile pic to the colors of the Nigerian or Palestinian flag? Probably not. But I also wouldn’t change it to the colors of Norwegian flag or the Maltese flag. The reason I changed my profile pic was in honor the street artist I met in Jan 2002. I was in Paris right after 9/11, heartbroken at what had happened to my friends and my beloved city. I met an artist along the Seine who was painting the NYC skyline. i broke down and he asked if was American. I said yes and he responded, with tears in his eyes, Mademoiselle, we are ALL Americans. So my profile pic is blue, white and red, because today I am French. Because today I worry about the taxi driver who went off route to show me the opera house, the waiter who brought me a pastry stuffed in an orange, the woman who sold me barettes for my sister, the stranger who walked with me along the Pont Neuf, the owner of the cafe I almost set ablaze after having one too many drinks made of cuban rum, the maid who misunderstood my boyfriend’s bad French and thought i had morning sickness, the ticket taker at the anthropology museum who wondered why an american was visiting his out of way museum, the man who bought me hot chocolate by the Eiffel Tower, the guy at the wine museum who gave me a free glass of both red and white wine, the man who put his cigarette in the cafe because it was bothering me. The list is infinite. The people of that city were kind to me and THAT is why my profile picture will continue to be the colors it is, no matter how many moralistic posts I read snidely juding and mocking my actions.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 4:01pm

    Erin, not to be nit-picky but "Palestine" isn't a country like Nigeria, Norway or Malta is. Their flag is not in the same category as these other places you mention.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:02pm

Thank you for sharing this. Normally, I’d have hunted it down, changed my pic, shared a picture or two, and hashtagged it all. But I had a rough morning mentally, emotionally. AMD I said many quiet prayers{and liked a few of my friends pray for Paris pics}, but that is ALL I could handle!! It feels like it has become just another meaningless trend; I’m usually all for trends!! I can’t donate money right now, I can’t go and help kick some terrorist ass, and i know I could’ve changed my profile pic to show support, but it didn’t feel genuine to me. I know a lot of people do it genuinely. And many more do it “because it’s right” but do actually care. But sometimes, i think the best thing is to just say prayers, and move on. Help any way one can, and move on. ✌

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:00pm

How do you feel about all of the corrie that lit up their landmarks in blue, white and red?

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 9:50pm

I changed my profile picture to red, white and blue, but I certainly applaud your decision and dedication “to do something” about our violent world. Let me know how that works out for you.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:21pm

    not sure your cynicism is warranted. We all need to do more. I didn't write this article, but I appreciate her urging us to slow down and feel and change—that intention is not enough–it's a great starting point.

    An author wrote this article. We believe in supporting meaningful dialogue, We don't need to agree with everything on elephant—this isn't an echo chamber Fox News/MSNBC yes-men club—rather, we need to support meaningful discussion. This world, God knows, needs to regain an ability to agreeably disagree. It's a good way to learn and grow, or see in the end that your original opinion bears the weight.

      anonymous Nov 16, 2015 1:59pm

      I'm sure you had to have author permission to share the article, so maybe let the author answer some of these comments? I think it is quite clear that the whole EJ supports and is backing the author, hence the reason you chose to share/publish this article. I think it is a WONDERFUL notion to have the author express some of the ways the she…..AS Waylon Lewis constantly states…..is walking her talk. Let us know links to ways we can be active, tell us ways we can get involved. I think that this is very reflective of the post-it note quote you sent, and I am wondering if the author actually proceeded with those steps before writing and agreeing for this article to be posted.

      I agree that healthy agreeable disagreeing and discourse is extremely wise for increased growth and learning, although the article has some slightly abrasive, demeaning and judgmental moments. I love what Lauralee Sikorski said in the comments: “"What else could you be doing—whether or not the news is filled with distressing headlines—that would be (more) meaningful, bring about tangible support, in your world right now?" Perhaps if your article were entirely about *your* answer to that question and inviting people to join you in *your* tangible actions it would better serve your own point.”

    anonymous Nov 16, 2015 2:40pm

    I was going to change my profile, except it would have meant taking away my "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbon. I tried putting the Yellow Ribbon on top of the French flag, but somehow that just looked wrong.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 9:47pm

I get what you're saying but for people like me I can't really help the way that I would like to, like send money or care packages or fly there to physically help with clean up, etc.. because I don't have that to give, I'm homeless & broke but I do care & want to show support the way they showed support for 9/11.if I could help more believe me I WOULD! & you also say would I change my profile picture to support Nigeria,Lebanon, Kenya,etc.. yes I would if Facebook gave me that option. I care about all of these recent tragedies & even though I cannot help any more than changing my picture & sharing posts & praying doesn't mean I'm not going to show that I care & support.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 9:41pm

Changing the photos in my opinion is just another way of showing sympathy and support and should not be judged. Just as someone’s choice not to change a photo should not be judged. We all show support in many ways and to be so judgmental for either is nonsense. I am sad, mad and sick for what has happend to so many innocent people. I am also sad, mad and sick what goes on in all country’s, whether it be the hurricanes that destroy homes and lives, crazy people who enter theaters with machine guns, earthquakes, etc….Changing a photo should not offend anyone. Just….a form of expression. Please take note that most people do not want violence. We need to all pray to God to please help all countries in stopping such violence, and love one another.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 9:20pm

Sorry, but I find your article just a bit condescending. Certainly there are some people who color their profile pics because it’s the trendy thing to do today. I believe however, that there are more people who do it because they care, they are frustrated, they are frightened and they want to do something…anything…because they’re as sick as I am, and I’m sure you are too, of the blood and the death and the destruction, but they don’t know what else to do. It’s a small thing, almost perhaps a silly thing, but it made me feel a little better and it does, in some crazy way, connect me to people all over the US and the world who are as shocked and sad and angry as I am.

    anonymous Nov 16, 2015 7:13am

    Thank you for putting my own thoughts into words. You said it perfectly, as did several other commenters..

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 9:19pm

I agree with Maria. Why not look at it as something positive? Maybe people want to feel united. Maybe people are scared and just want to unite to feel stronger. Whatever the reason this article doesn’t make someone feel good about changing their profile picture. Not everyone has the lifestyle that allows the immediate ability to drop everything and literally go in the trenches and help. I think spreading positivity and unity, no matter how you do it, is always helpful.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 9:18pm

Sorry for the diatribe to follow, but just can’t help it.

France, and the world in sympathy for France, is in morning. Again we are seeing the tragedy engendered by the darkness of the human spirit. Ignore it if you want, but it is a part of what brought you here, today.

I understand the impulse to go to war with radical Islam. For all the foolishness of going to war with an ideology, it has concretized in a physical shape and form and we have the obligation to fight on the front now presenting itself.

But god help us all, our struggle is against so much greater enemy.

The terrorists in Paris used bullets and bombs to achieve their limited and petty objectives. I am not without my own emotive response. Give me a second with them in a closed room. Live or die, I will reek revenge for every mother and daughter and spend time extra for others.

But is it enough? The pain expressed in a radical’s bombs or in a brother’s tears point to something other than more pain.

My own nightmares are far more complex. My real fear is radical Islam lives inside us all. We act it out every day. Me in the paragraphs above, you in the comments to internet messaging where you take on the bravado of the anonymous signatory or in the violence we create in the quietest of disturbed moments.

Where are we failing? In our act or reactions? We let each other down daily in traffic, at work, in our private lives or in the most public and small of crisis. Bravado for the heinous acts of the Paris tragedy aside, the question remains: How do we mend the hole in our own hearts?

Sorry for the rhetoric, but like you I’m trying to work this out. I truly suspect our inhumanity is at the root of our inhumanity. We have the brilliantly dark example of 1930’s and ‘40s Germany as lesson enough for us all. We haven’t learned yet. Must all of our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters die before we stop to consider our own responsibility?

I don’t suspect anyone reading this will ever savage a school yard or blow themselves up in a crowd to express their outrage at everyone else’s outrage, but I just want to suggest, for a brief moment, you and I stop and for the smallest bit of time remember than we are all, every one of us connected by tissue of the most holy however our creed, or greed, may define it.

This is not a pacifist cree. But at some juncture on the road to vengance we must stop the madness at least long enough to honest assess what we do. Can we find a way to make a difference? If not, then accept your humanity and live with what we have wrought,


anonymous Nov 14, 2015 9:17pm

Thank you for posting this. It’s exactly how I feel. Why don’t people do this over what’s happening in Syria or other atrocities happening in the world? I think I’m the only one of my circle on Facebook who’s not changing her picture, but it just doesn’t feel right to me. Thank you for showing the importance of what’s happening in some other way rather than changing your Facebook picture.

    anonymous Nov 16, 2015 11:18am

    I also agree. To color my profile just didn't feel right, like I was just following the crowd, exactly as to how many young people became involved with ISIS. I have shed tears and questioned as to the why of this tragedy and continue the same in having lost my innocent son in a quiet, respectable community. And I will continue to pray as the only change I can influence is the small circle in which I exist. Simply, my opinion.

    anonymous Nov 16, 2015 12:15pm

    Totally agree

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 9:17pm

It’s your right to feel this way and I don’t necessarily disagree, but you could apply the same logic to yourself here… EJ is arguably a form of social media. The time it took you to write your objections and publish them could have been spent getting ‘hands on’ making change and being a part of the solution. Let the people change the colour of their profile pic, if it doesn’t resonate, get off Facebook and roll up your sleeves. Ne the change or the example you want to see. Don’t waste precious energy questioning their intentions or method of grieving / connecting / influencing change.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 3:29pm

    Wow, I love this response!

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:27pm

    We asked her to share this, she didn't. We believe in hosting challenging, meaningful, helpful dialogue, so thank you for weighing in.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 9:11pm

I agree with Maria. This post is a bit hypocritical, putting everyone in one shallow bucket that changes their profile picture and then ending with “you should be spreading kindness”. Seems like this author is trying to stir up controversy and is adding more negativity to this already awful situation. Don’t judge or put down others for trying to mourn the situation, and assume that since they are being supportive on social media means their support ends there.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 9:09pm

I believe people are just showing respect in their own way. I’ve been reading too much judgmental comments about how others are expressing respect regarding the Paris Attack. I think is best just focus on praying and never mind how others hashtag or change their profile photos. This is not the time to compete who has more sympathy.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 5:46am

    This is a perfect statement.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 8:53pm

All I can say is that is why this is called YOUR OPINION… Because that is all it is. Thank you for sharing YOUR opinion.
I’m pretty sure there are many out there to contradict it.. I being one of them.. So to all that do change their profile … Thank you for all YOUR SUPPORT!!!

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 8:50pm

“Sometimes symbolic actions are the prelude to more meaningful action.” — me, in response to Pablo Picasso (who did a lot of terrible things to people, I might add).

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 8:43pm

I changed my profile picture because I found it comforting to see people in other countries waving American flags after 9-11. I want to show the same support to France. It is a small gesture, but a meaningful one.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 4:52pm

    Did you change your profile picture after the awful terrorist attack by ISIS in Turkey and 102 people died? Did you change your profile picture after 100 Russian died by the plane attack by ISIS? No?

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:22pm

    It's a great start. I appreciate her urging us to slow down and feel and change—that intention is not enough–it's a great starting point.

    anonymous Nov 16, 2015 2:42pm

    I agree with you Tonya. I feel it also wakes people up to the realization that we do need to do something about all of this hate. This earth is filled with millions who love each other regardless of race & religion and I am one of those.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 8:33pm

This angered me so much with this post. However, I think I have thought long and hard moreso on what not to say. I praise and respect your right to express yourself in any way you choose just as I praise and respect anyone who has taken even one second of their time and turned a peaceful and empathetic thought toward any other person on this planet however they chose to express themselves. The cheapest thing about social media including but not limited to blogs and facebook and twitter these days are how easy it has become for just anyone to disparage the actions of others.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:22pm

    Wonderful. If nothing else, this article inspired many of us to consider and contemplate, as you have done. Right on.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 8:17pm

While I get the overall message of this article and it is a good one, to really effect change for a more positive world, I do find it a bit insensitive in some areas. To assert your personal opinion that the flag filter or #prayforparis minimizes or cheapens the tragedy, is adding unnecessary negativity. Certainly there are many people who are doing it to be "trendy" or appear so caring, while turning around and spewing hatred and contributing to injustices. However, it is not their motives that matter to those grieving. When people are grieving, just seeing that people care helps to not feel alone. When you're in that state of grief something miraculously often affects our brain that even "enemies" wishing us well can be believed, even if only momentarily. We decide how to interpret what people do and say to us. In times like these, if just one person feeling very alone and sad sees that hashtag it could, for that moment, offer comfort. Who cares what motivated that person to post it. Not my problem. However, thinking that just one person has the opportunity to see others offering their thoughts and feeling even for a second, a minute comfort is well worth it. Also, kids seeing that and asking what it means, raising the awareness, discussing what the sentiment is supposed to be behind it, opens the possibility of even one child, one person to learn about the importance of compassion. I've lost people and have worked with many people dealing with grief and a constant is feeling alone and wanting just one person to acknowledge what you're going through can make a world of difference. I do understand your bigger message and could not agree more about those in the world who do for the accolades. However, if someone donates to a shelter to look good, I don't care….whatever the reason, one more person was fed that day. Peace to all and let us move away from judgement to tolerance, acceptance, love of one another. Only light can remove the darkness.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 7:56pm

“What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.” – Pablo Picasso

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:22pm

    This. I didn't write this article, but I appreciate her urging us to slow down and feel and change—that intention is not enough–it's a great starting point.

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 7:45pm

I think this misses the mark. People are just trying to make sense of such horrific-ness and do something to show that they care. I don't appreciate posts that imply because someone changes their profile image to express sympathy, they are shallow. Anything that moves forward caring on a spectrum from hate to full engagement of involvement is a good thing. Shaming people for changing their profile does not further the conversation.

    anonymous Nov 14, 2015 9:11pm

    I think you need to read it again as this is not what the author is saying at all and no one is shaming anyone for anything.

    anonymous Nov 14, 2015 10:19pm

    Exactly. Very well said, Maria.

    anonymous Nov 14, 2015 11:33pm

    I feel like maybe you missed the point of her letter. She wasn't shaming anyone for changing their pictures, which she clearly stated many times was not her intention. To me it sounds like she's asking people to do more than just a quick change of a picture. Something to genuinely help, not just Paris, but all of the countries facing the horrific tragedies that have been happening for a long while now and have happened just in the past few days.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:27am

    Agree with much of what you say, but the results of a recent study of college students suggest that the tiny dopamine reward people receive from 'feeling they have done something' through gestures like this actually makes them less inclined to do anything else.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:50am

    You have completely missed the point of the article. It is hot saying that to express your sympathy through means of a hashtag and change of display picture is shallow, no. She's simply saying that she hopes that those sympathies actually extend beyond the pages of social media and are genuine. Don't be so fast to trash.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:54am

    I totally agree. I was so outraged like so many others, I wanted to do something to show that I cared. I will continue to do all that I can to make this world a better place. I felt this article was in poor taste and arrogant. This was simply something I could do to simply show support. People don't need to criticize every good intention someone has.

      anonymous Nov 15, 2015 9:24pm

      But intentions are just the first step. If that's all we do, we need to do more. We must. That's all.

        anonymous Nov 16, 2015 10:59am

        Perhaps the problem in our world is just that – people are not satisfied with tiny movements. Change the way you treat your neighbor, change the way you react to negativity. Tiny changes – change the world. Why does this author need to point out that we need to do more – why not embrace the tiny movement of love on facebook? Why not be happy that people are thinking, sending their love, holding their families tight, perhaps becoming more involved in political agendas, perhaps because of this they are thinking of kindness to their neighbors. How do you know they are not doing that? How do you know people are not changing in tiny movements? How do you know? Instead we have these posts on facebook second guessing the goodness of people. Telling them its not enough. That is our worlds problem – people always telling people they are not good enough – not doing enough. STOP – embrace this unity. Feel the love of the red, white and blue. It brings people closer, it makes the world smaller, it makes the world ours. Please. Stop judging and join in whatever you way you can. The world is full of wonderful people trying their hardest.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:11am

    I think the point being made is valid.. asking us to at least think about it first.. to take more time and be really clear about what we are trying to say by joining in on the social media trends. I don't believe the writer's intention is to shame those who choose to change their profile pic or send messages of support and prayers for peace.. simply to ask them to be mindful of what they are doing. I changed my profile pic and have reposted messages of prayer. I do this in trust, believeing that if it can unite us in the name of peace and compassion for the suffering of others, then it is worth it.. though I also know that bigots and racists may be doing the same thing.. We live on a diverse world with millions of opinions.. It may mean different things to all who chose to do join the social media frenzy.. but I can only know my reasonss and it comes from a heartfelt sorrow and from a place of wanting the world to unite and heal.."One Love".

      anonymous Nov 15, 2015 2:53am

      The problem I have with it is that it's making it out to be like people are doing it just because it's a trend. That if people change their photo and don't do anything else either that they're doing something wrong, that's another thing I personally don't like. The point of it is to offer support to France. For some it might seem pointless because they don't have any international friends on their facebook, but for other's it's a different situation. I think that just because somebody puts the hashtag and changes their profile photo, but is unable to do anything else, that doesn't make them a bad person. The problem I feel is that those people are having fingers pointed at them as if they did something wrong when they didn't. I also feel like people that feel compelled to write something like this are only writing it to have an excuse as to why they aren't. As though them not doing it is bad. Which I don't think anybody is pointing fingers at the people that decided not to change their photos. But that's my opinion. This person has a valid reason for not doing it, but to point fingers at others that are doing it (but unable to help in other ways) is wrong. Also the assumption that changing the photo isn't actually helping anything is wrong also. I learned about the incident through the hashtags and I know it's going to pass it along to others. I also would change my photo if it were other countries such as Kenya or Turkey – so long as I know what happened in the first place.

        anonymous Nov 16, 2015 4:10am

        well said.. I kinda disagree with this article too.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:49am

    I dont believe this is shaming in any form-I found it very thought provoking and personally challenging.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 1:58am

    Well said Maria. I very mindfully changed my profile picture and for the author to imply you must not be mindful to do so is a bit presumptuous.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 4:22pm

    Agreed. Showing compassion, solidarity, etc. does not equal conformity nor shallowness. Making a judgement about why people do or don't do something is the real error in judgement.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 4:57pm

    Yeah I feel like the author saying that the profile pictures "cheapen" or "minimize" the tragedy or that it doesn't show solidarity is a very insensitive thing to say like we know she's not purposely trying to shame others but ironically that's exactly what she does in this article. A lot of us deeply understand the tragedy that happened not only in France but in countries around the world and are actually educating ourselves on those events and thinking of solutions. And she says she doesn't need to post on social media in order to validate what she's done.. So is that why she wrote a whole article about it and shared it with all of her followers and the people they shared it with? Hmm.. I'm sure she's a nice woman with good intentions just seems very naive to believe her way and thoughts are the only way to create effective change.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 7:20pm

    I agree with Maria. If there was no shame in updating your profile picture, then why didn't Jamie just go ahead and do it? If you feel Maria missed the point, I say that you don't know a bigot. They're not all brazen white guys born in South Carolina.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 10:07pm

    well said.. people should be more tolerant and stop judging.. by writing this wont make you different from those who changed their profiles…

    anonymous Nov 16, 2015 8:41am

    I agree with you, Maria. Yes, she very kindly says it's OK to change pics, post sympathy etc, but each time, she adds a 'but' and a stream of reasons why this isn't such a good idea. Her post is full of patronising assumptions about what motivates people and as a result, no better than the people she does, or doesn't criticise…

    anonymous Nov 17, 2015 4:32am

    I agree with you . even though comments below state that the author does not intend to shame people , question arises : why even publish this . If you dont feel like it dont do it . Dont serve the public some stuff to merely seek importance and show your stand towards such incidents . It should occur to one that many people CANNOT do more than show some form of condolence and solidarity towards such terrible acts . Yes many wish they could arm themselves and do more . The author herself fuels her fame thru social media . If everyone were able to do more than change their avatar , im sure they will or would . Thumbs down to this !!

    anonymous Nov 17, 2015 10:17am

    No one cared about the 2000 Muslims dead in Nigeria at the hands of Boko Haram bac in January. It didn't even make news! Or the major bombing in Beirut that happened recently. No one cares unless western lives are lost. 250 people, while extremely tragic, pales in comparison to what's being done in the middle east, the reason for Syria fleeing their homes. But no one in MMerica seems to care. We jsut want a cool Facebook photo and a has tag to prove that we're good people while we grab our lattes from somewhere other than Starbucks because they are anti-Christmas. Give me a break, this article hit the nail on the head. I get so tired of Americans sitting back doing nothing and yet pretending we are so cool. UGHHHHH