When the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal In all 50 states last June, I immediately took to Facebook and changed my profile pic to add the rainbow filter on my profile pic. There was context behind the quick profile switch. I've long been a supporter of gay rights, and showing it on social media just seemed appropriate. "Love is love." But, I didn't do it so my friends and chain of Facebook pals could "like" it. Changing my pic was just a quick expression of support. Filters don't change the world. For the most part, they're just a way for you to show your online friends you support something in that moment. Within a day or two, most filters give way to new profile pics and all is forgotten... until, usually, another senseless act or weather-related horror occurs.
Following the attacks on Paris on Nov. 13, so many people in my social chain instantly changed their profiles to have a French flag filter or a peace sign with the Eiffel Tower. I get the need to do it. I almost did. I was horrified just like every other rational person in the world at what transpired. But, I opted not to. Changing my profile photo does little but raise awareness that I, myself, support Paris and France as a whole.
Saying "Pray for Paris" rings false to me since so few of us are actually doing it. As cynical as it may be to say, few will also take the time to donate to the Red Cross or get involved in some way to help raise significant awareness that something's got to be done. Following the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, I felt numb. As a new parent, I wanted to do something. I didn't except voice my opinions of Facebook. Ditto on all the other violent acts that break out all too often. Shootings at an Amy Schumer movie? C'mon. Draw the line somewhere. But, again, I didn't do anything. I didn't join any group or write a blog on this site or anything to try to spread the word around the world. Because the way our society works now is we care in the moment and in the days, weeks following it, but we move on until the next tragedy occurs, and then we rinse and repeat. My friend's wife joined a mothers against guns group following the Newtown murders. She's still engaged. I did and have done nothing, but talk about it on social media. What good does that do other than offer yourself a form of some therapy?
I'm not changing my profile to a flag filter for Paris, because while I care so deeply, I'm also a realist and know that I'd just be another person doing the same thing yet doing very little in reality. These filters and profile pic changes are also getting out of control. Yes, "black lives matter" but putting it on the Internet for your friends to see isn't exactly doing much. (Google what students did in Boston yesterday by the way.) Ditto for "police lives matter" or anything else. On a much smaller scale, I feel bad that Charlie Sheen has HIV even though he's led a reckless life, but I have no plans to add him on my Facebook wall and raise awareness about AIDS. We live in a world of saying we care, actually caring, but in the end, just wanting all of our friends and acquaintances to know we care so we feel better about ourselves.
We live in an often, cold, and scary world but expressing it on Facebook isn't the place for it. Neither is Twitter. Save Facebook for photos, comments, spoiling key television episode plots and bitching about waiting to find out if The Walking Dead's Glen or Game of Thrones' Jon Snow are dead.
Act and leave your profile alone. You're not saving lives or changing the world by "showing" how much you care.
Try this instead.
About A-Sides with Jon Chattman: Jon Chattman's series usually features celebrities and artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometime humorous) way. No bells, no whistles -- just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, Jon strives for a refreshing change. Artists featured on the series include Imagine Dragons, Melissa Etheridge, Air Supply, Joe Perry, Alice Cooper, fun, Bleachers, Charli XCX, Marina and the Diamonds and Bastille.