Turning inner space into outer space

November 14, 2015


I was going to write about pet finders on Facebook. They work great. If ever you lose your dog or cat, go to Facebook and search “missing pets.” You can also add the name of your city.

You’ll discover that there are hundreds of caring people in your home town who will go out of their way to help reunite you with Fido or Fluffy. Two success stories have come to my attention recently.

I was going to write about that, but it somehow seems trivial when over a hundred people were massacred Friday in Paris. When an atrocity like this occurs, I search for meaning but increasingly I find it unfathomable.

Revenge? Cycles of violence? Ideology? Those things kind of make sense but always to seem to fall apart. Surely there are limits to the evil people are capable of.

If there is any comfort to be found, it is with the knowledge that in the midst of horrific events, there are always good people trying to do whatever they can to make things better. I read, for example, about a man finding an injured teenage girl among the dead, scooping her up, and running 200 metres to get her to a cab that could take her to a hospital.

I was impressed to see the Twitter hashtag #porteoverte (French for “open door”) along with people’s home addresses. They were offering shelter to strangers who, for whatever reason, had no way of getting to safety after the attacks. It takes guts to publish personal information at any time, but especially at a time of crisis when you can’t be sure what to expect.

I was also impressed that Facebook activated a check-in feature that I hadn’t heard of before. If you’re in a danger zone, you can check in and let your friends and relatives know you’re OK. This no doubt saved a lot of people a lot of grief.

Unfortunately, there were also some disappointments. You have to wonder what goes through someone’s mind when they see a tragedy and think about how they can use it to promote a personal agenda.

Such was the case when U.S. politician Newt Gingrich tweeted about how much safer the victims would have been if they were allowed to carry concealed weapons. Former New York Times writer Judith Miller responded with a snarky, almost incomprehensible, tweet about whiney college students.

Even here in Kamloops, I saw journalists goading each other about finding a local angle. I’ve been there, so I can understand being caught up in the moment, but it certainly wasn’t their finest hour.

As always, social media is a reflection of humanity — the good and the bad. It’s no wonder so many people prefer to concentrate their efforts on missing pets — less complex and always appreciative.