Technology at the time of tragedy…

November 16th, 2015

Topics: Culture Mobile Social

The world now knows of the horrors that occured last friday night in Paris. The attacks were organized in Syria and carried out at multiple locations in the City of Light in near unison, killing over 120 people. Sitting in the comfort of my home in Vermont, my thoughts leapt to a saucy little Parisian who worked for me lifetimes ago at Simon Pearce.

Was she okay? And what about all the members of the Tuck and Dartmouth family – were they okay?

Wasn’t the rest of the world suddenly doing the same thing – racking their mental rolodex for people they might know who could be hurt? What about those who didn’t have to go looking through their memories – what about parents, sisters, brothers who knew their loved ones were in the path of danger and were now frantically trying to contact them? IMAGINE THAT DESPERATE FEAR! 

Technology exploded and assisted.

Facebook launched their safety check feature. The company actually sent notifications to users in Paris who have the Facebook app, asking if they were safe, and it offered to check on the safety of their friends. Twitter helped people find a safe place to stay using #PorteOuverte and mobile apps allowed people find a location to give blood.
facebook safety

Here are 5 ways we can help now: 
(courtesy of the International Business Times)

  • Provide Shelter: French citizens are using the hashtag #PorteOuverte on Twitter and Facebook, which means “open door,” to offer their homes as shelter to tourists or anyone who needs them in the wake of the attacks. But please, do not push the relevant posts down by using the hashtag unless you are in fact offering shelter.
  • Send Funds: You can donate to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which directly supports the French Red Cross. The French chapter of the aid organization announced it has hundreds of volunteers on the ground in Paris working with victims and their families. You can also donate to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, which provides worldwide assistance during emergencies and delivers medical aid to victims.
  • Give Blood: If you are in or around Paris, you can arrange to donate blood through the French National Blood Service or by using the Don du Sang à Paris mobile app.
  • Volunteer: The Secours Catholique-Caritas France is a Catholic relief organization based in France that helps the underprivileged throughout the country and provides assistance during emergencies. The French Secours Populaire is a nonprofit group that was primarily established to fight poverty, but it also provides support during emergencies and for any victims. Both of these organizations also accept donations online.
  • Show Your Support: Millions are taking to social media to share their support and offer condolences by using the hashtags #ParisisaboutLife, #PrayForParis, #Prayers4Paris and #PrièresPourParis. Many Facebook users are changing their profile pics to overlay the French flag, showing solidarity with the victims, like mine is above.

There is another side of technology in all of this madness. The hacktivist group Anonymous has declared “total war” on ISIS. In a recent video, they pledge to use their skills to “unite humanity” and warned the Islamic State to expect massive cyber attacks. As of my writing this, the video has 1,307,925 views. 
It’s a strange time we live in.

Innocent people are losing their lives for no reason.

I’m grateful that technology can cross oceans, ignore religions and allow anyone to help in whatever way they can.

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