Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Facebook's Herd Mentality: Regarding the Attacks on Paris

I, like many others, have noticed a type of "herd mentality" that exists on Facebook before the Paris attacks.  However, I write this post now as this herd mentality is extremely pronounced.

I do not need to say that the attacks on Paris were sickening to me.  I have been following and speaking out to people against ISIS for quite a while (mostly on deaf ears.  While others were busy posting about Kim Davis and the Clock Boy, I was baffled by why people were not saying anything about ISIS, focusing their lives on largely pointless issues.  Now that ISIS has attacked France, I am told that Facebook is awash in people's profile picture being changed to a French tricolor.  It is great that people are supporting the French people in this (but they need real support).  However, I can not help but wonder where this support was when other attacks happened, most notably the very recent airline crash that took place in Egypt.  Yet, the Egypt crash that killed over two hundred Russians was totally ignored by most on Facebook.  Why is this?

One user retorted:
"The French supported us during our 9/11 terrorist attack by hundreds standing around a us flag. This was a terrorist attack by the group we are at war with, and so those are the main two reasons I changed facebook had it as an option on my timeline. I think it's great for everyone in Paris to get on and see all of the support of their flag standing everywhere, all over the world. We stand together through this."
I wonder, is this why we started calling French fries "freedom fries" after 9/11?  Yes, there was a lot of French hate in the media after 9/11, but many do not want to recall that now.  The truth is, that people on Facebook seem to act in tandem.  Facebook has a way of making people think as one big and sometimes dumb group.  Certain news stories get the spotlight (clock boy) and other bigger, more important stories (such as the attacks in Beirut) get ignored.  Conspiracy theories regarding Obama or Donald Trump are more important to many than anything that is going on in the world that tear lives and people apart.  

I do not want to seem unsympathetic to France or the French, and I hope that you do not think I am.  I think that there are better ways to show that you care about humanity or stand with those who have been attacked than changing your picture on Facebook.  Such an act of self-aggrandizing does nothing for the world at all.  In fact, you might as well just reach your hand around and pat yourself on the back for being so culturally aware on your profile before going off your all-important political views on Islam or sharing pictures of your latest meal.

One interesting tidbit about the France attacks was that, at first, it seemed that there was a lot of unity on Facebook.  Now, Facebook is full of arguments over what should be done regarding ISIS, refugees, and other points that armchair political strategists feel the need to debate behind their phones and computers.  You may have that tricolor as your Facebook image, but behind that glow, you are still wasting your time on one of the biggest time suckers in existence.  Facebook wants you to think that you are doing something in support of the terror that happened in France, but the truth is, if you were to log off Facebook and never show yourself on that site again, France (or the world) would not be any worse off.  If you want to show real support on the war against ISIS, start caring about every human, no matter where they are from, who are hurt by this vile organization.  Mourn not just for the French, but for all those who have died by the hands of these people.  Don't let Facebook tell you who you should be in solidarity with.  It's time you move away from the herd mentality that exists on Facebook and start thinking for yourself.


  1. Very well said, and I agree.

  2. Sadly I returned to Facebook recently and witnessed the vapid, hollow posturing of half my friends adding the tricolor to their profile pictures. And as you said, they stopped talking about Starbucks cups and have all turned into experts on immigration and foreign policy. Some PhD candidate in psychology should do a study about mob mentality on social media.

  3. Remember during the big gay-marriage celebration we all bathed our profile pics in rainbow?.. The herd now (Paris flag) has just switched its direction (with a kind of *hive-mind* guiding the impulse, etc.).. As for me friends?.. 4 days now of Facebook sobriety! Cold-turkey baby.. (I feel great).. "Hi my name is Bob G. and I'm an FB-addict.." / "Hi Bob..".. etc..

  4. I was not aware that FB users have changed their profile pics to the Parisian tri-color flag until it was mentioned here on this website. This made me realize that one side function of this site is to keep us updated on whatever trendy topics the FB masses are obsessed about without having to log on to FB.

    The mass support towards France reminded me of the ice bucket challenge to supposedly rais funds for the research of ALS (I had forgotten the name of the disease or the cause it was meant to promote). I felt suspicious about the way people pressure other FB users to take up the challenge or else be "forced" to donate money to the ALS foundation.

    I feel that people's desire to make a difference in the world tends to be misplaced once they take on the cause to Facebook. Cases where FB makes a genuinely positive difference in others' lives rarely happens.

  5. Ironically, last night I heard from a close friend who's relative responded to her Paris-related FB post (which she read to me and which was actually very respectful of every/anyone) with vitriol and anger. She was really hurt. She asked, "How should I respond?" I replied, "Don't.".. and sent her a link to this site. FB destroys relationships; case in point.. - As for me it's day 5 of FB-sobriety! (I feel like I should get a 7-day "chip" or something this weekend; "Hi I'm Bob and I'm a Facebookaholic.." / "Hi Bob..").. eheheh.. yuk-yuk..

  6. Hi Bob, I deleted over and over without deleting! kept going back before the 14 days were up, like now I want to delete again, I made some comments on a news story thought it was a safe comment not trying to insult anyone but surprise!! I was called a idiot and a right wing crazy! I responded I'm not right or left wing I'm Independent and told( whoever )It speaks volumes that you only know how to insult someone! Without calling him names I got my point across! Lesson learned? Your going to get told off on FB no matter how polite you are! What a peaceful and rewarding way to spend your time getting misunderstood and called names! Pray I delete and carry it thru would you? Thank You!!

  7. Day 6; A) You can't say anything about life and death of any great merit or in depth of context in 125 characters or less (and we're living in a '125 characters or less'-world now. Also as a writer you may be (in your head) emphasizing THIS word and not THAT word, but the reader.. emphasizes THAT word, and your original intent of meaning is misconstrued; result?: bad feelings. It's a lousy ineffectual form of communication at best. B) I'm tired of the game; I'm tired of my self esteem rising and falling based on how many *Likes* I get.. it's childish.. I'm tired of looking over at my phone wondering if I should pick it up to see if anyone *Liked* my brilliant insightful post.. etc.; it's silly.. it's highly addictive.. and it's a huge time-suck.. It encaptures the emotions in a way that is almost entirely wasteful.. Better to read a book.. or take a walk in the woods.. or play with your kids, friends or pets. This life is ever so fleeting.. I'll shut up now..

  8. Hi again Bob,Thank you for responding, I agree with you making comments on FB is a trouble maker someone will find fault, Try and argue, and then others like what you say,then you wonder in the back of your mind if some stalker or crazy person hates what you said and tries to find or hurt you in some way! You don't know who you may be dealing with on FB! And this like button is not the way people should get their self worth! You don't even know the ones who like your stuff most the time!! Thank you for your input!!!

  9. 7 days; one week: Facebook clean and sober; not one log on, not one relapse. "Hi I'm Bob, and I'm an FB-addict." / "Hi Bob." / "Hi.. um.. ah.. pardon me; I'm a little nervous, um.. Well, I guess it all started for me about six years ago.. I logged on one day just to see what all the other kids were making such a big fuss about. I really just wanted to fit in with and be accepted by all the other kids. It was really fun at first. I began by *liking* things.. looking at photos of "friends", videos of cats and dogs, funny cartoons: it was all very innocent. Eventually I began composing my own thoughts, comments, insights.. and "sharing" them on my wall.. and.. I begin to get "likes"!.. and I felt validated!; I felt good about myself!; I was fitting in with the others kids! I eventually began to check my Facebook more often. I began to finely cultivate my profile, my page, my image.. and soon.. I was hooked..".. ..