The 7th of January is stained as a sad day, a black day for humanity, for eternity. I just watched the movie “Munich” by Steven Spielberg on Tuesday and on Wednesday the attack on Charlie Hebdo occurred. In the movie, one of the Israeli operatives says to the team leader that they should use guns to make sure that their targets are dead, instead of bombs. However, the team leader replies that bombs are better because they are more newsworthy. He says that guns do not attract enough attention to make headlines, which is one of the reasons why they want to kill their targets in the first place.
What happened on social media right after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris should teach us a valuable lesson. The world responded immediately as soon as the attack occurred. Everywhere on the trends map the hashtag #CharlieHebdo was topping the trending lists. This happened in just a matter of hours. So, the terrorists reached their PR objective faster than ever before thanks to the virility of social media.
The second issue that took me by surprise was the amount of clear footage of the attack. As soon as people heard gunshots they began filming it. I believe that this has become humanity’s general response now; citizen journalism is at its peak. We saw the terrorists and their car and their behavior and their brutal execution of the French policeman lying on the ground on these videos shot by mobile phones. These videos will be used to catch the attackers as well.
The last issue is people’s response to the attack. I am ashamed of the huge number of Turkish citizens who congratulated the attackers in forums and in the comments at news portals. One of the responses under a news piece was “They got what they deserved” and it had 158 likes in just half an hour. There are too many responses similar to this to be counted.
From this short analysis of social media trends, I can say that the terrorists achieved every goal that they had while planning for the attack and social media virility helped them. They wanted to be famous, they wanted to be noticed, they wanted to spread hatred, they wanted to create shock, they wanted to create tension and they got all that they asked for. The only setback is the increase of the speed in which they will be caught because of all the footage.
So, what can we, who want peace and freedom of speech, do?
We can also use the virility of social media. We should try to counter the hatred spilling over on Facebook and twitter. We should persuade our leaders to take a stand against these attacks and we should try to spread their message to as many people as we can. I hope that our leaders will soon realize that they are living in an age where every word that comes out of their mouths can reach millions of people in a matter of seconds. Words can be healers or they can be destroyers. Social media amplifies everything. Let it amplify a sincere call for peace and harmony.