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#ParisAttacks : Social Media Expressing Extraordinary Solidarity #prayforparis

Few words are needed to elaborate on the atrocities committed in Paris on Friday and it is not the purpose of this article to comment on the perpetrators or their motives, yet amidst the outrage, pain and grief it is social media that has once again had the chance to prove what a vital medium it is in the 21st century.

Hashtags have been widely used to significant effect over the last 2 days - not just for expressing sympathy or for spreading the news, but for providing assistance in this time of need.
#prayforparis has been widely used -particularly by celebrities- to express sympathy and, presumably, exclaiming that someone is actually offering their prayers for those caught up in the attacks. The similar #PrayingForParis has also been used, the variation presumably attributable to the subtle differences in English usage throughout the internet.

The ’reportage’ and official press elements of social media have used #ParisAttacks as well as the earlier and less-informed #ParisShooting to disseminate the shocking news around the world at veritable light-speed –something which we all now take for granted in this day and age. #ParisAttacks is the most used, and surprisingly the Spanish hashtag #TodosSomosParis (We are all Paris) was ranked second, with the French tag #NousSommesUni (We are United) down in seventh place. This may change as foreign countries lose interest in this news while it continues to dominate the French-speaking elements of the internet -hopefully without cause for renewed relevance through any repetition of these shocking events.

Of particular note are the heart-warming #PorteOuverte (open door) and the English-language version #OpenDoor, showing the active side of social media through which users were offering shelter in their homes to those stranded in the French capital. Surely this is the most sincere act of kindness to strangers and locals in this large and often intimidating city. Naturally these had limited use as only those in the city and outlying districts could effectively apply it.

With echoes of the 9/11 events, the hashtags #StrandedinUS and #StrandedinCanada developed to offer assistance to those whose travel plans had been disrupted. Similar support was offered back in September 2001 to all those travellers whose journeys were interrupted by the closure of North-American airspace and planes were landed wherever there was a suitable runway. Hashtags weren’t a ‘thing’ back then, though, to help co-ordinate such efforts.

Social media also employed other methods to help reassure people in the chaos, as Facebook used its Safety Check campaign to prompt users in Paris to “check in” to their personal page to let their social network know they were safe. The feature was introduced after the Nepal earthquake. Friends of the author used this to good effect yesterday and today.

Amidst the moody felines, comic videos, food pictures and vast numbers of baby-related postings that usually dominate peoples’ twitter feeds and timelines, social media has once risen to the occasion and helped co-ordinate support, show world-wide compassion and to provide families with relief through knowing where their loved-ones are.

Chris R.
Guest Writer
#ParisAttacks : Social Media Expressing Extraordinary Solidarity #prayforparis Reviewed by Mili Ponce on Saturday, November 14, 2015 Rating: 5

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