Staying Silent About Belgium On Facebook Doesn't Mean I Don't Care

Photo: Twitter

Don't mistake my silence for lack of compassion.

I didn't post a status update about Brussels on Facebook this morning. I didn't post any words to sum up my feelings in the wake of the Paris attacks. I couldn't fit my thoughts into a tweet when terrorists rampaged in San Bernardino. I didn't claim the identity of Charlie Hebdo with #JesuisCharlie on social media.

When it comes to tragedy, I'm not one to post about it on social media with the flurry of friends and strangers who stand up to show their solidarity via Facebook. Does that make me a bad person?

Some people might say yes. Or at least post a vague status update saying, "Where is everyone this morning? Do we not care about Brussels or terrorism anymore? #Brussels."

I'm not unaware of the tragedies happening around me. I consume the news in an almost obsessive and unhealthy way in the wake of tragedies. I usually spend my day thinking endlessly about it and spend my evening hashing out my feelings with my husband. Or sometimes, I'm silent.

I process tragedy in a way that feels authentic to me. I don't post my grief, my confusion, or my outrage on social media because for me, that feels superficial. I don't think there's anything wrong with my social media silence — and I certainly don't think it means I lack compassion.

What, really, will my few words on Facebook do for those actually affected by this tragedy? How will changing my Facebook overlay to a Belgian flag ease the suffering of those who are in the thick of a real and horrible tragedy? Do my friends really think I'm uncaring and indifferent to the world because I don't shout my sorrow from Facebook, of all places?

If we're going to shame people for not posting a status update about Brussels, where exactly do our motives lie? It's not as if we post about every tragedy that happens across the globe equally. Why aren't we calling out our lack of compassion for the terrorist attacks that took place in Turkey just days ago or the deadly violence in El Salvador?

Are we monsters for not calling out every horror the world produces each day? How could we? The list would never end.

I don't think anyone should be shamed for the way they grieve and process tragedy. No one should feel bullied into writing a Facebook post that feels inauthentic simply to show solidarity in the face of tragedy.

Jumping on the bandwagon of posting a sad status update to say "I'm paying attention and grieving with the rest of the world" feels like I'm making the tragedy about me  about how my feelings matter even when I'm not directly affected by these heinous acts.

That's not to say that people who do post on Facebook are wrong. Everyone needs the space and agency to grieve in a way that feels appropriate to them. If showing a united front via social media makes you feel a part of something greater  if it gives you a magnified sense of connection with your fellow man in the face of tragedy  then by all means, do it.

Say what you need to say. Feel what you need to feel. And let me do the same.


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