This status sent shivers up my spine. We whine and moan about how social media is devoid of emotion, meaningless, sterile, technological. Yet, Facebook has become a place for us to grieve.
The accounts of friends that have died still buzz with notifications of loved ones remembering their would-be birthdays, the day they died or just when a loved one or friend misses them enough to post on their wall or message their inbox in hopes they might reply. But they never will.
Maria is a gorgeous teenage girl who loved Najwa Karam and was loved by many. I never had the pleasure of meeting Maria, and I never will after yesterday’s bomb went off. But, I had a glimpse into the life of this young girl who worked and studied, who posted a status with the emotion “feeling sad” at the end of it that roughly translates to “this is the 3rd bombing I survive, I don’t know if I’ll go with the 4th one”. She didn’t. Let that sink in.
Twitter and Facebook might be the places where we joke inappropriately about the all-too-normal situation we have to live with while our politicians bicker over cabinet appointments a day after they had been sworn mortal enemies. But, these social networks have given us a face and a person, not just a number.
The automatic question that comes to people’s minds as soon as they know another bomb has went off, is “how many dead?” and it’s usually 4, 5, 10, 20, 30… But, we barely ever know who these people were. What they liked. What they looked like. Who their friends were. What music they enjoy.
But thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a couple of hashtags, we know who Mohammad Chaar was, who Maria Jawhari was. They’re not just numbers that marquee on the bottom of a newscast. They’re sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, classmates, friends. They are victims of a senseless violence they had nothing to do with. Their only crime was being at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
The normalization of the horror we face every other month, every other week and seemingly now, every other day, has made human life cheap. It’s either a number, or we either slap it with the word “martyr” and move on as if nothing has happened. As if no one had died. As if no injustice was done. As if someone’s life wasn’t robbed away from them in a cruel ball of fire or stray shrapnel.
The results we get are a fumbling, half-assed joke of an investigation. We don’t care what the car brand was. We couldn’t care less how many kilograms of TNT or C4 the bomb weighed. The license plate number of the rigged car is of no concern to us.
Our main concern is why wasn’t it stopped? Why would someone do such a thing? Why are the 137 stolen cars every month that end up being blown up in a crowded street not looked into properly? Why are the thieves not brought to justice? Why aren’t we using them to get to the terrorists sending these rigged cars? Why don’t we have scanners on border crossings? Why don’t we have more bomb-sniffing dogs? Why doesn’t anyone care that such a horrific scenario keeps happening with nothing but a group of hazmat-wearing investigators floating around a crowd of hundreds of passerby picking up the pieces and putting them into plastic buckets?
Yesterday, I met Maria’s profile, and even though I did not know her personally like I knew Mohamad Chatah, I felt a loss. It’s nothing compared to the loss of those that knew her best, but at least she wasn’t just another number. Just another name on a list of collateral damage that numbers in the hundreds.
Hashtags might not stop bombs, and Facebook may not make us safer, but it sure as hell stops us dead in our tracks for a minute, and realize that these victims were human. They were like you and me. They shake us up enough to realize this isn’t ok, and that sitting idly by as politicians lineup for their rehearsed camera appearances means nothing to us.
I should be hopeless, and I probably already am. But, we’re starting to do something about it, and it might not be public protests and riots and revolutions, but it’s something, and we need your faith, just a wee bit of it. We might not change the course of history, or the fate of ideological wars around us, but we can make our everyday life better, bit by bit, so that we can walk to work in the morning without having to say a final goodbye to those we love just in case a suicide bomber decides to flip the switch while we’re in his or her blast radius…
Written by Gino. To read more check: www.ginosblog.com