In the aftermath of Paris attacks of November 13, 2015, Facebook quickly offered the ability to add a filter covering your profile photo in a layer of the colors of the French Republic flag.
After thinking through, this is why I chose to do it:
there is a time of shock after events that you feel are touching you directly in who you are. After a death comes grief, but it comes with several stages, that need to be passed through before you can transform them into something constructive. I decided that until I had passed those stages, I would signal my state of grief by filtering my face behind a veil that represents a part of who I am, and that will signal myself as a mourner, or a person in mourning for those particular events. I will remove the veil when I feel ready to go back to the world… this is called bereavement, and nothing else.
Now, if it presents a vision of the world to anyone who would tell me it is limiting to a shocking reality excluding other valuable causes, I would reply that the world wide web is very vast, vaster than the sea of filtered faces you can see in Facebook’s timeline. If you see only filtered profiles, it may mean that your choice of friends is not diverse enough, that is all. This goes both ways.
I had also had to explain something that seemed obvious, but is always necessary to restate clearly:
Since we are all guilty of doing it, and I will always include myself in these faulty behaviors or speeches, I want to say that immediately after hearing of a terrible news, other than pronouncing conventional sentences, we may want to jump to very insensitive comments, that are spoken from a place of raw emotion.
I will not comment on top of these comments that social media have facilitated now. I will put myself in the place where I am: in shock and disbelief, in sadness and profound distress.
I know that whatever I will say or think is painted with where I come from and what my own experiences are. We are all part of what is going on and in need of trying to make sense in order to be able to move from the place of raw emotion that is too painful to bear otherwise.
My plea to everyone is to do what you feel comfortable the most with, whether it takes root in your belief system or political views, but also bear in mind that the noise we make has an impact, the words we say have an impact, the images we share have an impact. Let us all think before we react. Let us pause the time we are sure what we can do is going to be useful to someone else as well as to oneself.
And if too much thinking and pausing is making us look dumb or bizarrely shy or uninteresting, let us be thankful for being a worker of peace, a keeper of time.
Thank you for all your messages of love. Paris is where I was born and where I lived all my life until I moved permanently to the States at 40 years old, too old to become anything else than a foreigner in a foreign country, an adopter of a new land. The motherland remains strong. I do not want to hear any disparaging comment about the politics of the French. They are my countrymen and my allegiance will always be to the world of strong values that made me who I am. Paris will always be my hometown where every nook and stone I have walked and had adventures that those who are currently walking may feel and love or fear.
Let us be kind to each other and let us try to be patient when Time has been suddenly put in a motion that is scary.