In the wake of the Paris attacks (and just about every other issue that makes the front page) a lot of people are asking, “Why isn’t anyone talking about ________?” These people are also critical of others’ use of the Facebook photo filter bearing the French flag. Well, I have a message for those people:
Instead of trolling comment sections under articles on Paris in an effort to divert attention from that to whatever you think others should be equally concerned about, perhaps you should be posting or even writing articles on those issues. That would be a far more effective way to spread awareness than trying to hijack other topics of discussion to solicit attention for some other issue — a tactic which is petty and juvenile, and does very little to promote your cause.
To be clear, I am not talking to people who do post articles about other things, or who simply choose not to use the photo filter. I’m talking to people who take a morally superior stance; to the people who Jamiles Lartey of Guardian US refers to as “Tragedy Hipsters” and their holier-than-thou comments that amount to, “I care about suffering and death that you’ve never even heard of.”
I’m talking to people who rebuke others for using the photo filter and/or talking about Paris when there are other tragedies taking place in the world. Your thinking on this is completely irrational because you’re basically saying that if we don’t talk about everything we shouldn’t talk about anything. This line of thought is childishly demanding and completely unrealistic.
Some things hit closer to home and resonate more than others. This is part of human nature and anyone who claims to be equally concerned about every injustice on the planet is flat out lying — lying to themselves and lying to the world. As Lartey also pointed out:
“It simply isn’t possible to treat every individual tragedy & moment of suffering with objective or equal consideration, and no one does this. There is robust neuroscientific research into how this works in the human brain, and how poor a job we do at weighting suffering and tragedy.” [emphasis mine]
I refuse to be manipulated into keeping quiet about things that resonate the most with me, or into spreading myself too thin in a futile effort to be all-inclusive. This does not equate to apathy or racism, as some have erroneously charged. I am a human being with limited time and energy, and the same goes for all those social justice warriors striving for the moral high ground through pretending to care about all things equally — something which is absolutely humanly impossible.
Writer and Director, Terry McMahon, made a similar point by asking the following questions:
“When we grieve for someone with whom we have a personal connection should we feel guilty that our grief does not extend to every stranger we have no connection with? When we go to the funeral of a loved one should we feel guilty for not having attended every fucking funeral in the history of humankind? When we connect should we feel guilty because it is personal?”
My answer to those three questions is a resounding NO, NO, and NO!
Whenever you feel the urge to troll comment sections to shame others for discussing something that resonates with them, resist the urge. Instead, focus your energy on productive ways of bringing awareness to issues that resonate with you — not by hijacking other topics of interest and scolding people who aren’t talking about everything you think they should. That’s like crashing a funeral and demanding that mourners express equal grief for someone else buried yesterday in a cemetery across town. It’s offensive and in poor taste, and demonstrates the same level of insensitivity that “Tragedy Hipsters” decry in others when they focus more on one thing than another.
Open a new topic of discussion by posting relevant links, or even writing your own piece on issues that you feel aren’t getting enough attention. The Internet and social media offers everyone that option equally, so instead of criticizing people for exercising that option, try doing the same to a more productive end. Imagine how much attention could be brought to the under-reported tragedies in the world if all the ‘funeral-crashing’ social justice warriors would focus more on that and less on finger-wagging, which accomplishes very little apart from alienating the very people they presumably wish to sway.