From Paris, with Tough Love

Photos and writing by Linnéa LeTourneau
@theonlylindayouknow

Anger, exhaustion, disbelief and embarrassment. These are the emotions being felt by not just myself, but a handful of other expats living in Paris that I have spoken with since the attacks that unfolded on Friday night.

Not about the terrible events that carried out here in Paris but about the religious, political, and social reactions posted in the media, especially from our home counties in the western world.

I, like everyone else, am a user of social media. I generally do not post things often, as I am a private person, but I definitely spend more time than I should scrolling down to see what’s going on in other people’s lives.

Over the past 3 days, I have found myself reading through Facebook and clicking on nearly any posted links related to the attacks in Paris, ISIS, the refugee crisis, etc. despite knowing how much fictional information goes viral, even from “reputable” sources and publishers. With so many world conflicts today, it is easy to confuse or wrongly categorize groups of people, religions, etc. due to ignorant generalizations and misinformation.

Terror seems to be with us as much as ever, if not more than ever. Maybe it is time to rethink how we are reacting to it.

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I am not about to tell anyone they are wrong to express themselves through a status over Facebook, a hashtag on Instagram, changing the colors of your profile picture to those of the French flag or posting a link on twitter. To each their own.

Many feel it is a way to show solidarity and support to those who innocently died during such attacks on humanity, of which too many Parisians, (and before that Lebanese, and before that Iraqis and before that those killed in smaller attacks already deep into the obscurity of our memory), have been victims.

But if you feel that you are making a difference in doing so, do it with absolute conviction.  Be mindful of exactly why you’re doing it.

Will giving these attacks a hashtag provoke a feeling of togetherness or give fame to the enemy? Both? Are we just trying to be part of another trendy social media gimmick? If we don’t express ourselves on social media, does it mean we don’t care? Are those terrible videos going viral real or pieced together to use as tools to manipulate the views of others? Are we fully understanding what is going on here?

It is all too easy to slip into bigotry by flatly generalizing and not knowing all the facts. I know that I most definitely do not have all the facts straight and still have many unanswered questions, despite trying to educate myself on such current world topics.

At the moment I have decided to take a break from Facebook, despite friend’s and family member’s wishes to use the website as a tool to be assured of my safety.

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Seeing so much biased, racist, and ignorant posts made by both friends and family in my home country of Canada, has stirred up emotions in me. As humans we must show respect, try to be understanding, and have the audacity to be open-minded during such a time when these three things are being challenged the most.

Right now the true test for France is the same test for each of us on a more personal level: how we respond to such attacks on humanity.

Understand that it is against a set of ideas – religious, political, anti-western, anti-imperialist – and you cannot use bombs, propaganda, hateful words or hashtags to simply destroy an idea.

Be smart. Educate yourself to see the bigger picture of what is really going on in the world right now. Don’t believe everything you see in the media. Be respectful. If you are mourning, mourn with truth. During this painful and problematic time, have not only open hearts, but also open minds and open eyes.

 

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Linnéa LeTourneau lives in Paris, and is most definitely not a writer. She spends nearly every waking moment thinking about food and can often be found laughing (probably too hard) at her own jokes.