Why I Did Not Overlay My Facebook Profile Picture


If you were on Facebook this week, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Here are three reasons why I didn’t do it.

1) The problem of selective solidarity

France. Lebanon. Syria. Japan. Mexico.

These were the countries who were severely affected during the same time as France, and yet where were the respective overlays for these countries? Why was the safety check feature, albeit useful, initially enabled for one country?

I wonder: what is the hermeneutic used to determine which country gets the most attention during a given crisis? Is there an ideology that takes precedence over others? (I could get into a discussion about Eurocentrism and the effects of western ideology here, but let’s not).

If I were to overlay my profile pic, it would have been a filter with all of the flags above. But even if that filter was available, I wouldn’t be able to justifiably place it considering the number of countries who’ve had terrorist attacks just this year alone whose flags were not duly celebrated in the name of solidarity.

Besides, will a filter of a particular country be available every time there is a crisis in that land? We’ll have to see.

2) The futility of overlay. 

While some are busy choosing a decent yet flattering pic on which they can overlay the Tricolore, many are busy losing their lives. Families are losing loved ones in critical condition. I can’t remember the last time an overlaid profile pic saved or enhanced these lives.

If I did overlay my picture, I know it’s going to be a matter of time till I change it back to my regular profile pic. What would that mean? Am I no longer in solidarity anymore? What am I trying to communicate to the French?

If I’m one of the affected, here’s what I may say:

Thank you so much for showing support. But if you really want to help, here’s what you can do…

This leads me to my final point:

3) The lack of action

If I were to overlay my profile picture, I better be doing more towards France than a wonderfully coordinated set of clicks. Truth is, I didn’t. Not a single dime was expended from my bank account. Sure, if I’m stuck in a serious rut, and saw my news-feed flooded with a brown sea of Kevin faces, I’d feel something nice. But if that’s all that is done in the name of solidarity, I’m not sure how long that feeling would last.

Here’s why: solidarity without service can seem sanctimonious.

If France was a person, and I overlaid her face on mine, it would be a guarantee that that’s not all I’m going to do for her. If I’m not going to do anything more than passively ride the Tricolore sea of blue,white, and red with my surfboard of a profile pic, I’m afraid that it may only exist to make me look good among my friends.

Recently, a classmate of mine expressed that he was in a deep financial pit. Immediately, a few friends and I started a gofundme page where others could contribute funds to help get on track. I wonder what would have happened if all we did was create an overlay of his face or country and place it on our profile pics.

Don’t get me wrong. My heart aches for the families who have lost their loved ones. Terrorism is an ugly thing; a deadly outworking of the brokenness which inconspicuously exists deep within our hearts.

I also believe that the Christ of the cross is the only One who was able to face evil head on to provide both an answer and solution to it. He cares for the weak, the downtrodden, and the abused. He cares more about the plight of his children more than we do.

So then, if you are a believer, let me leave you with this question:

If God were to overlay his profile picture, which flag would it be?



pic courtesy: http://www.inquisitr.com

Published by Kevin Wilson

Third-Culture Kid. Millenial. Christian. Seventh-Day Adventist. More about me on the ABOUT page! Check it out!

One thought on “Why I Did Not Overlay My Facebook Profile Picture

  1. Good points to ponder. I’m perceiving that the flag overlay, albeit a belated and at best a highly selective approach was an attempt at countering symbolism used by the perpetrators(no shortage of this) of the unthinkable.

    We should not be ambivalent to the importance of symbolism as far as communication goes. For now at times it looks to some as if the perpetrators are employing symbolism and communicating an ability to fill a need better than their opponents.

    Ribbons have been used prior which connote a cause without respect to geography. But then what about the causes(diseases etc) that have no ribbon? As advocated, a meaningful balance could be achieved when actions to mitigate the impact of crisis are done as well.

    Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something as the need for both the intangible(moral support) and the tangible will always be relevant.

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