Paris is (Literally) Burning…
And what Americans revealed about themselves in the aftermath of the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire
The public outpouring of support across American society (and mirrored on social media) during tremendous tragedies — most recently, the devastating fire that engulfed the Notre-Dame Cathedral on Monday, during Holy Week — tend to have somewhat of a contagious feeling, if not viral. The news gives these disasters top billing and around-the-clock coverage. People from all walks of life have no qualms publicly claiming their shock or profound sadness over these things, whether it’s part of the neighborly exchange of gossip inside the local Mom & Pop shop, or the awkward small talk inside of elevators cramped with big city professionals.
On social media outlets like Facebook, various groups and organizations make it super easy to communicate your support without ever having to utter a word. Which is great for those who are more reserved, or those who have trouble finding the right words. Not too long ago, integrating or changing one’s profile picture on Facebook to a temporary, customized frame or filter intended for specific causes was the standard etiquette for showing solidarity without having to make a lengthy post. This treasured tradition was meaningful to, and used by many people. But for many others, those pesky profile picture frames became a subtle form of peer pressure. And still for others, they were considered hollow gestures that amounted to nothing more than “virtue-signalling.”
Regardless of anyone’s preference, in extremely tough times, these small comforts on social media can even help heal a grieving community. The miraculously helpful crowdfunding efforts like Kickstarter or Go Fund Me assert their presence while also engineering a plan that turns into much needed, actual dollars. Other visible displays of solidarity and support rush through one’s social media feed like the ripples from a pebble in a pond. But, not always. Only sometimes. And only for some people and places. And only under certain conditions.