Showing Support

Early in 2016, a wildfire raged around the Canadian city of Fort MacMurray. The entire city of 66,573 residents had to quickly evacuate when winds unexpectedly shifted. But around the world, people showed their support. Countries such as South Africa and Australia sent wildfire-firefighters to help battle the blaze. A few beer companies started producing canned water and donated more than 200,000 cans of water. Countless individuals donated money or supplies for the displaced residents of Fort Mac. As the wildfire spread, so did support.  
I’ve noticed other things that spread like wildfire. In November of 2015, I saw a lot of red, blue and white in my Facebook feed. I wasn’t sure why so many people had suddenly decided to update their profile picture with a filter of the French flag so I started researching it. It didn’t take me long to understand that people were doing it to show support for Paris after that terrorist attack. Like a wildfire, more and more people changed their profile pictures to include a filter with the French flag.
But I struggled to see the purpose. I still struggle with the idea.
In one way, I can agree that the filters do help. The waves of updates showed that somewhere a rock had been thrown into the world pond and disturbed things. Social media helps spread information. It makes things personal for millions of people.
A single event in Paris become somewhat personal for me as it affected (if only in a small way) a part of my daily life. But a terrorist’s main objective is to gain attention for their cause by creating fear or panic. The terrorists wanted attention and they had 120 million people giving them it by updating their filters. 130 people died as a result of the attacks, yet millions became concerned. All because of the filters.
People updated their pictures to “show support”. Yet, four years after the attacks, I can still scroll through my friend list and see pictures with outdated filters. If they haven’t since changed their picture back, how much did they actually care? Was it just a “show of support”?
Another filter that spread like wildfire was the Humboldt Broncos hockey team. After their bus crashed, killing 16 boys, people flocked to update their pics. It was touching to see that they wanted to show the families that they cared. But more importantly, real actions followed.
The Humboldt GoFundMe broke all records in Canada for the amount of money it raised. Over the course of the fundraiser, over $15 million was raised to help with funeral expenses, and to aid with medical expenses for the surviving members as well as other help for the families and community. I think this is due to the pictures: it felt personal and people everywhere knew about the accident.
Will updating your filters support terrorists or will it help break a record to support the families of a hockey team? It’s tough to tell. But I can tell you that passively updating your filter isn’t supporting anyone. When you want to support something, consider what you may actually be supporting and what the best way to achieve that goal is. If you think that the organization or cause is worthy of your support, don’t be passive; they deserve your active participation.


  1. Great thoughts, great points.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Btw, the blog isn't showing up right...The emails that come in on my phone mail app, the print is really small and I have to scroll sideways to read it all. And on this post, there is the same problem. I have to scroll sideways to see all the words... Just thought you might like to know. :)

    1. Thanks Cap! I'm glad you found it insightful. :)
      Ugh. The blog randomly does that sometimes. And if I don't catch it, it goes live looking like that. :( Thanks for letting me know. It should be better now.


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