After Friday’s attacks in Paris, Facebook has launched an optional filter for all users. This Facebook filter calls for solidarity with last Friday’s attacks by giving the option to customize profile pictures superimposing the French Tricoloure on them. Of course, more and more Facebook users are using this tool, shocked by terror in the French capital. First-class and second-class, inclusive third and fourth class casualties exist, it’s self-evident although not desirable.
To a certain extent, it’s understandable than an European citizen feels more upset for an attack in Paris than in Beirut. In fact, after analyzing the media coverage of both attacks, it would be odd if a person from, for example, Spain was more moved about a terrorist attack in Lebanon than in France.
It’s evident that the biggest mass media are manipulating collective consciousness. The silence that reigns or the coldness while exposing the death tolls from attacks in the so-called Arab World, contrasts with the dramatism when informing the number of killed and wounded after an attack in Europe or the U.S. territory. This communication strategy is a model of success for creating first and second-class citizens and societies. More and more Europeans realize that they are being manipulated and try to ignore the influence of the mass media that end up building insurmountable walls between societies through action and inaction. However, this is a new strategy for social communication;the Facebook filter represents a danger that finds most users with lowered defenses.
Using this Facebook filter as a gesture with Paris attacks victims is supporting a view of the world where only occidental casualties matter and building another border wall surrounding this 21st Century European Fortress, inhabited by terrified vassals that give away their critical awareness to private companies and public institutions in exchange for a little calmness. When a bomb explodes or a missile falls in Lebanon, Irak, Iran or anywhere in the world, siblings suffer and parents lose their heart when knowing that their relatives are dead; friends desperately look for clues that may lead to their colleagues. It’s understandable (although not desirable) that an European citizen feels more upset after an attack in Paris than in Beirut. Most of us have friends in Paris or have visited this city on several occasions. But Facebook is a global company and with these kind gestures, the only success comes from establishing an imposed hegemonic point of view under which occidental casualties are important and a reason to get mobilized while, for example, the casualties after Thursday’s attacks in Beirut, don’t really count at all. We didn’t have the option to customize our Facebook profile pictures superimposing the flag of Lebanon, did we? From my point of view, accepting and supporting this attitude is extremely dangerous, even more if we support it without noticing at all.
Èric Lluent, journalist (Barcelona, 1986)