19.1.15

#Jesuis silence




In the wake of the Paris attacks and the public and international displays of solidarity that followed, an extremely annoying trend began to dominate the web.

Yes, we are aware of the situation in Nigeria, we replied to the first accusations of ignorance - as far as we can be considering the dearth of information.

But that wasn’t enough, then came the accusations of callousness, of not caring. Why was this? Because we’re not on the street with the world leaders that were not marching, our every twitter post is not tagged to #jesuisnigeria and we were not vociferously joining particular we-like-to-think-we-are-well-informed celebrities in their condemnation of Boko Haram.

Déjà vu – Ebola.

It seems what is required of us is not that we care, but that we must make a public display that we care. It is not enough that we care, but everyone must know it.

Many people across the world are deeply aggrieved by what is going on in Nigeria. Though the internet mind-police draw and share cartoons of apathetic viewers watching the news and ignoring it, placing the blame on racism and the prominence of certain countries over others – of course those are factors – the reasons for our behaviour are assumed and inferred and we’re beaten about the head with these assumptions.

Since the Paris events, we’ve had a relentless onslaught of opinions, discussions and declarations of being #jesuis or not, pro or against satire, blasphemy and so on. Though these are important it seems those who stay silent are thought of as being uninformed or uninterested.

In some cultures, public displays are an essential part of mourning and anyone who doesn’t attend a funeral is accused of witchcraft or indifference – it seems something similar is happening here.

Photograph: Michael Fleshman

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