On Facebook Flag Filters

It’s been a while, but I had to repost something. I’ve never reposted something I’ve written elsewhere, especially not on my Facebook profile. Well, today is a first then, because I feel strongly enough about this. 

So here it is. 

Facebook friends, we might need a break from one another. 

I’m one of *those* people who has put a French flag over my (many years-old) profile picture. It was done in a moment of profound sadness, by someone who didn’t really know what else to do and didn’t want to make any pronouncements, because sometimes words just aren’t enough. 

Then came wave after wave of people INDIGNANT about this show of solidarity. It came from the Facebook feed, from the New York Times, even from NPR as I was driving home. 

I get it. People are dying EVERY DAY, EVERYWHERE. 

But I also get that human psychology is a complex thing. Yes, we do relate to things that are closer to us. If someone close to ME dies, I feel it more than if someone close to YOU dies. It’s basic human nature.

I’ve been to Paris. I know people who live in Paris. I know people who are married to Frenchmen. So what happened in Paris was closer to home to me than other horrid tragedies happening to the world every day. 

But I get it. People are dying EVERY DAY, EVERYWHERE. 

I do get it. 

But I changed my profile pic anyway. 

I’ve also huddled with my family in bomb shelters as bombs have rained down on our heads. Have you? 

I’ve also had to flee, as a child, with my family from the only home we knew, in a time of war. Have you? 

I’ve had to answer questions before getting on an airplane, asking why I speak Italian and English so well, as the airport officials eye my Tehran birthplace. Have you? 

I marched against the war in Iraq. Did you? 

I was jokingly called a terrorist in a group of people. We were all wearing black puffy jackets…it was winter in New York. Were you? 

I have repeatedly posted about charities helping refugees in Syria. And donated. Have you? 

I’ve busted my arse to volunteer a ton of hours so that my company will donate $1000 in my name to the UNHCR. What have you done? 

And you know what? I ALSO changed my profile pic, because in a moment of empathy, I felt like doing it. 

Taking offense by someone’s moment of empathy is not something empathetic people do. It’s what self-righteous assholes do. 

So Facebook, let’s take a break. Because I don’t have time to feel guilty about putting up a French flag on my profile page.