When tragedy hits the world, I do not share it on my Facebook feed.
Whether it be in Baghdad, Minneapolis, Dhaka, or even my country’s Jeddah or Medina, I do not make posts. I don’t share the hundreds of articles I see from my Muslim friends about the tragic loss of hundreds of Muslims in one week across the Middle East. I react to all the posts on my feed mourning the loss of yet another black life in America, but I do not share any post myself.
But then I find myself feeling guilty whether or not I share. If I share, I think to myself, “Why didn’t I share this post or that post? Why is this tragedy more impactful to me than the others?” If I don’t share, I fear I am not doing the one thing I can do as a bystander: spread the news of injustice so everyone remembers these names, these lives, these atrocities.
When the Paris attack happened in 2015, I wrote an article about how angry I was that Facebook had put up a French flag filter while it didn’t have the Lebanese or Iraqi flag option despite attacks within the same week. We all know — and I will fight anyone who says otherwise — that media doesn’t care about black or brown lives like it does white, Western lives. Do not tell me the world doesn’t react to “Eastern” bombings and attacks the same way because “those countries are always like that”. One, “those countries” are not the fantasy white man savior third world dreamscape where war ravages every building and corner. These are cities with humans living normal, day-to-day lives where they drink Starbucks or eat McDonald’s and shop at their local mall. They should not be told to be used to bombings — no one should. Second, even if this atrocity happened in a village that is constantly under siege, why does that excuse the lives loss? Every tragedy is a tragedy — regardless where.
This leads me into another reason I feel guilt sharing specific tragedies over other tragedies: villages in Syria are experiencing the most tragic horrors on a daily basis. Cities in Syria have been starving to death, and several reports from humanitarian agencies have warned that the world is failing the people of Syria. If I chose, I could go on for months not seeing anything on my social media about the inane violence happening in Syria. In fact, one harrowing story about Daraya was told to me by my older sister, who works at the United Nations. Had she not told me, I would not have known that after four years of no aid, Assad’s regime bombed the first aid truck that entered the city. Children in that city have resorted to eating grass as meals.
Social media is a powerful tool in spreading awareness, and I acknowledge that I have my part in spreading that awareness. But I also worry about the ease of using a hashtag, and then letting the momentum die once it’s no longer relevant news. I worry that by posting about the impact ISIS has had on Muslim communities, I will be valuing Muslim lives more than others. I know it’s nature to feel more affected when communities that are your own are attacked, but I think by that logic, so many tragedies go unnoticed because of a lack of empathy or connection.
That said, I believe in donating, in doing your part, in spreading awareness in ways you find most useful and productive. I am still not confident in my decision not to share political posts on my Facebook feed, but I want to make it clear that I value black lives, and I am horrified when I see that yet another black life gone at the hands of white policemen. I value my Muslim communities, and I cry that Facebook didn’t put up a Iraqi flag filter after more than 280 died days before Eid in a hideous attack. I mourn for these communities deeply, even if my Facebook feed does not show it.