Last week, a terrible tragedy occurred in Paris, France. A series of terrorists attack led to the death of 129 people and the injuries of 352 with 99 of those in critical condition. ISIL has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Now, you may be asking yourself, “What can I do in response to these attacks? How can I help to prevent another attack from occurring?” I would argue that many have already responded in a crucial and impactful way: through the use of social media.
Social media is one of ISIL’s favorite weapons. They use it to spread propaganda. They use it to recruit people. They use it to recruit teenagers, brainwashing them to believe that ISIL’s violent and horrifying cause is somehow necessary and just. Social media is powerful, and we need to use it just as efficiently as ISIL does. We need to fight fire with fire. You have likely seen your friends’ Facebook profile pictures newly emblazoned with an overlaid French flag or the several Snapchat stories calling us to “Pray for France.” There’s even a featured “Peace” playlist on Spotify commemorating the memory of those who died in the Paris attacks. Some may think that this is pointless and has no significant impact on the state of Paris or the state of the world for that matter. Nevertheless, I would argue that the use of social media is an essential step towards combating future terrorist attacks.
The point of terrorist attacks is to spread fear and panic. They are designed, as the name suggests, to generate terror. What these social media posts prove is that ISIL has failed in that attempt. Not only have they failed to weaken our morale, they have made it stronger. When we show our support for Paris on Facebook or any other form of social media, we are sending a message to ISIL and other terrorist groups that they have not won. They have only motivated us more than ever before to come together as a planet — not as nations. They have created a united global community that spreads from Paris to Isla Vista and around the world.
Social media is also important because it helps to inform others about what is going on in Paris. I know far too many people who don’t watch the news or read the newspaper. These people are critically unaware about what is happening in the world. For most of these people, social media is the only way that they hear about what is going on outside of Isla Vista or their hometown. By changing your profile picture or by adding a “Pray for France” emblem to your Snapchat story, you are encouraging those who do not know about this catastrophe to learn about it.
You might be asking, “Why, exactly, is it so important for them, or for me, to be informed about the world? If it doesn’t impact me directly, why does it matter?” The answer to these questions can be seen by simply looking at the example of the Paris terror attacks. People are dying, and by being informed, we can help to prevent that. Through the power of our vote, we can help to prevent that. Now, more than ever, our vote could mean the difference between world war and peace.
We need to elect a president — we need to elect senators — who will respond appropriately to the threat of ISIL given the growing political complications revolving around them. The Paris attacks have far-reaching global implications which extend from the Middle East to Russia. Because ISIL has claimed responsibility for the attacks, there are sure to be growing calls for military intervention against them. ISIL’s territory lies primarily in Syria and Iraq. If you didn’t know, Syria is in the midst of a civil war — a civil war that we are involved in. The United States supports moderate Syrian rebels who are fighting against President Bashar al-Assad’s government as well as against ISIL. Russia is also involved in the Syrian conflict. They have been criticized for their recent growing military presence there. Russia, although against ISIL, supports Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Of course, this is a very brief summary of what is going on in Syria. Simply put, there are many powers at play; if we make one wrong move, we could have another world war on our hands. I would strongly encourage you to research this conflict. Discover for yourself what needs to be done to combat ISIL. Discover for yourself which politicians have the best policy for achieving peace and preventing further terrorist attacks.
If you are still wondering what you can do about the Paris terror attacks, the answer is simple: become informed.