As my mind stood still in shock of the many tragedies which have happened across the world in the last two weeks, I couldn’t help feeling like a tortoise in Central Station NY – What am I doing here? Where are all these people going? Why so fast?
Romania rose in anger and pain after the fire in Colectiv, which caused 56 people to die and hundreds of injured, and Paris and Beirut shook with explosions leaving even more victims behind, but I couldn’t help noticing the true paradox of our digital, connected, social media world. While it is by far the easiest way to connect people across the globe, it is and always be the easiest way to disconnect them.
We all have opinions and feelings and we’ve become so used to “throwing them up” on our personal profiles. Some don’t, but most of us do. With each major world event, you can easily sort your Facebook friends according to which side of the argument they are on. And there will always be at least one argument…
It’s amazing how social media was a true source of good, change and support for desperate people in need of blood donations or for desperate families and friends trying to find out news or information about their loved ones… in Bucharest it helped change elections’ outcome (last year) and even throw out a Prime Minister.
And this is good, this is great!
But… From where I sat through all this, protected by the physical distance and grateful my friends and family were ok, I also saw how it disconnected people… and not just from each other, but from themselves as well… our natural need is to be part of something… so we change our profile pictures, we share articles, we comment and argue frenetically to prove our points. People are angry, hurt and most of the times scared, but rarely take a moment to live those feelings in privacy.
And they post, and they argue and they shout out their complaints on social media.
And what I’ve also noticed was that the ones closest to those events, the unlucky ones who had to face all the pain, while the rest of us stared at it in shock, from afar, they were the most silent ones, the discreet voices. Because when it comes to it, human pain at its greatest is truly paralysing and it does leave you gasping for air and words.
We post, we change pictures and we write a dozen comments, and we connect with each other, because in reality, we are disconnected from the real, soul crushing, unfair, unforgettable and unforgivable pain.
So leaving aside all arguments, a Facebook profile picture turning black or red-white-blue is, in my opinion, a sign of hope. The hope that we are not yet all paralysed.
We can still do something to change things. It’s unfortunate that it’s rarely the right thing the one we do.