On the day that information was released about the terrorist attacks in Paris, the world responded and united in a positive and powerful way. Social media sites were flooded with #PrayersforParis, depictions of the national flag of France, pictures from trips to the Eiffel Tower and so many other shout-outs to the hurting nation. It was amazing to see the response of unity spread across the world, letting Paris know they were not alone. However, my concern for our social media generation is that we like to show that we are #praying for another country, but are we actually praying and grieving for others? Or are we just jumping on the bandwagon?
One day before this devastating attack on Paris, another 147 individuals lost their lives in an attack in Kenya. However, our generation had no idea. Why? Because the trending topic of the day on Facebook was related to the neckline of a certain Kardashian sister and her date out on the town. I kid you not. The younger generations tend to be interested in whatever issue is brought to their attention via social media. In 2012 it was the issue of KONY in Africa, and in our recent past we had the day the trending hashtag was #lovewins, in response to same-sex marriages becoming legal in the US. Or who can forget the REAL scandal of the color of cups being served at Starbucks. What about children starving every day in our own country? Or those in abusive relationships happening in our own town? The homeless and hungry found in every nation? Those aren’t plastered on Facebook, so they simply don’t get the same cry of outrage.
If I had to interview people today about what had actually happened in any of the foreign nations relating to our recent events, not many would be able to tell me a straight answer. The problem is, we are a generation searching for a cause. It is like we are simply scrolling through our news feeds looking for the next big (or little) thing to offend us. So we blast our “opinion” from social media – -without fact or relevance to back it up, just to be a member of the group. Blanket statements begin to cover groups of people, because we aren’t checking to see what is fact and what is a stereotype. Irrelevant articles are shared out of context to try and prove a point. Without proper knowledge or history of a subject, hundreds of people state their opinion formed by reading one article or by seeing one status — just to be part of the argument.
As soon as the internet has moved on to the next big thing, the band hitches itself to another wagon. Strong opinions fade just as quickly as they were formed. Never to be mentioned again– because the world isn’t watching and waiting for you to be part of that group. There isn’t pressure to be part of a trend. Temporary profile pictures fade, which is fitting, because most of the time interest in that issue is that — temporary. On to the next thing: What will we choose to be offended by next?
I want to emphasize that social media is a tool that can be used to promote your cause. And I do encourage you to use it for that purpose, but out of passion and not pressure. Find a cause and be part of something bigger than yourself. But do your research and find the facts. Do not let Facebook become the only book you read. Check your sources, relate it to the context, and then become an educated advocate. Search for what breaks your heart by genuinely praying (without the hashtag). Seek for ways to help find the solution without prejudice or bigotry. Choose your battles and really think before you make a statement. I still encourage you to raise your voices — as long as you don’t do it to hear yourself speak.
Let’s stop being the generation of “rebels” who are looking for a cause to follow on social media and instead let us become the generation of activists that are out there learning, growing, being, serving, respecting, and making our world a better place. As we are loving others, stepping away from our screens and putting aside our arguments, judgmental opinions, selfish nature, and defensiveness we will start to see something else rise to the surface of attention — #worldpeace.