Sunday, November 15, 2015

I never want to hear the phrase "selective grief" again

I will lay out in plain terms why putting a French flag filter on your Facebook profile image does not constitute "selective grief."
  1. All grief -- and for that matter, all emotion -- is selective. Humans aren't capable of anything but selective emotion. The opposite of "selective grief" would be "total grief," in which we express grief for every single grief-causing thing that happens in the world at any given moment. Guess what, nobody has enough time on his hands to show "total grief," because bad things happen every minute. Selective grief is the best anyone can do.
  2. It's not grief, it's a profile photo. A picture on Facebook doesn't constitute grief, nor does it prove the act of grieving. It's not even designed to do that. By Facebook's own description, the French flag filter is meant to "show solidarity with the victims" of the Paris terror attack. Selective grief? No. Selective Facebook participation, maybe. But again, what other kind of Facebook participation is there?
  3. Westerners are numb to the idea Middle East violence (yes, that means you too, Lebanon) through no fault of their own. When a terror attack happens in Paris, it makes big headlines because we aren't used to it. That's what makes it "news." The Syrian civil war, on the other hand, has been spilling into neighboring countries since it began in 2011 (and into Lebanon since 2012), yet it took an attack on Paris to bring some people's attention to this fact. Which people are those? Mainly the ones whining about selective grief.
I now consider the matter closed. "Selective grief" will henceforth be added to my list of Phrases That Trigger My Auto-Ignore Response. It'll be in good company there, with friends like "law-abiding gun owner" and "War on [anything]."

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