A year ago when Paris was attacked, social media rushed to show their support creating the hashtag #PrayforParis. A design, created by Jean Jullien of the Eiffel Tower encompassed in a circle known as ‘Peace for Paris,' made its way 'round the internet, in accompaniment with the hashtag.
Several months later, people once again came together to stand in solidarity with the people of Belgium, armed with the hashtag #PrayforBrussels. There wasn’t any design this time, or at least not one that appeared often enough to become associated with the attacks, but still, people still did something.
Then Turkey happened, then France for the third time, then Syria and most recently, Berlin, to name a few. Unlike other times, though, there wasn’t an international hashtag, nor was there a design for any of these attacks; a few people tweeted or Instagrammed here and there but nothing compared to the response that the Paris attacks received.
This does not dismiss what happened in Paris or the response thereafter, it’s to highlight how the responses, specifically on social media, changed and slowly diminished as the attacks continued. While #PrayforParis took over social media, in comparison few people mentioned Turkey.
There could be many reasons for this, one being the unusual circumstances of the Paris attacks and the fact that it’s one of the most famous cities in the world. It’s also plausible that given the amount and increase of attacks, most people would prefer to forget they happened instead of filling social media with constant reminders that they did. Another reason could be that the later attacks did not receive as much news coverage and therefore fewer people heard about them until later.
Whatever the reason, that some hashtags analysts probably have figured out, the fact still remains that while the attacks have increased, the response across social media internationally has decreased, or at least appeared to do so. This lack of response cannot continue, rather now is the time for the world to come together and show their solidarity with each other.
That’s what the hashtags are, symbols of solidarity and support from across the world. Yes, it’s simple and there’s probably something better that could be done, but it does something when it seems that nothing can be done; it offers hope. It demonstrates that when the world gets tough, its inhabitants can band together.
The hashtag needs to continue. Partly because it’s something that anyone can participate in, but also because it shows that this evil will not and cannot conquer when there’re people out there who still care.
There will always be that double edge sword that if the hashtag #PrayFor continues, that the attacks will too, assuming that the media will continue to give attention to the attackers, a thing they probably want. That’s the thing, though, if the attacks continue so will the urge to fight back and to bring peace. With peace comes hope, and hope is the force behind life, one with freedom, forgiveness and a better tomorrow.