Flags of Our Facebook


Emily Meringolo, Contributing Writer

When I logged onto Facebook and saw that my “friends” were changing their Facebook profile pictures to a temporary French flag profile picture, I could not help but cringe. This easy transformation proudly demonstrates solidarity with the French—how wonderful. All you had to do was click the “try it” button and violà! You were showing your support to the French. To that they say, “merci beaucoup”?

I now wonder, when will people switch their profile pictures back to “normal?” When will the “normal” picture of you return? Or will you replace your French picture with a new and more amazing profile picture? I am on the edge of my seat. What will it be, and when will you change it? Is there a protocol for when it is acceptable to change your profile picture? I assume there will be profile picture changes when the shock waves of this horrific event dissipate, and “business as usual” returns. Or perhaps you will never change it, thereby signaling a plethora of other sentiments. Maybe that demonstrates the indelible mark this act of terror left on your life … I really don’t know.

How would you feel if Facebook gave you the option to temporarily change your profile picture into a Syrian flag profile picture? What would that say about a lot of things? Syria was just bombed by the French after all; people died there too. Why aren’t we standing in solidarity behind Syria via Facebook?

In the future when I (inevitably) stalk you and see your litany profile pictures, whatever shall I take from seeing the picture of you behind the colors of the French flag? Does your Facebook profile history reveal that you also changed your profile picture to the rainbow flag of the LGBTQ community? If so, the difference between these two profile pictures is starkly different to me. While one commemorates marriage equality, the other commemorates a dark day in French history. Just as your profile pictures, album posts, and statuses commemorate moments in your life, they will now too commemorate national and international world events—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Temporarily changing your Facebook profile picture to the French flag seems like a form of passive activism orchestrated by Facebook to further integrate the organization into your online presence/persona.  In my opinion, it is largely ineffective in influencing change. Perhaps influencing change is not the intent of such activities. Perhaps your Facebook profile pictures mean nothing and should not be scrutinized by the likes of moi.

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