Wednesday, 18 November 2015

(Good) grief

Early last Friday evening, I wrote about the whole "I am considerably more righteous than you" phenomenon that prevails across social media - I called it competitive correctness (© me, 2015). The terrible events of Friday night only reinforced the point. By Saturday morning, a few people on Facebook were overlaying their profile pictures with the Tricolore (that's the correct French spelling - I checked so you don't have to). By lunchtime, half of my contacts had done this, and Facebook was facilitating this with a one-click button that might as well have been labelled "Empathise publicly". By tea-time, people were sharing the story of the attack on a Kenyan university. Mostly sharing without reading, I'd suggest, because by Sunday morning my timeline was full of people criticising those sharing the Kenyan uni story, since that attack had happened in April.

What does all this prove? Nothing, really. People can grieve, and show that grief, however they like, publicly or privately. And grieving about something that is relatable (like a European capital city not unlike our own and that we may have visited often) more than something that is further removed from our life (like a provincial African university) is surely understandable, even if not in alignment with your personal views? Grief isn't a competition, any more than being righteous about things should be.

Me, I prefer grief to be private and personal, but maybe I'm just old-fashioned. In the words of that great sage of our time, Len Goodman, "I'm just a cup of tea man in a skinny latte world."

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