I was at Reflex 80s celebrating a life event when we saw breaking news of the atrocities in Paris. The night never recovers from that.
Paris was my most recent trip outside the UK, to commemorate Alphaville’s 30th anniversary in 2014. It’s always going to hold fond memories. Coincidentally, Alphaville was played last night to much enjoyment.
Jet Set was described by the band as a ‘jingle that advertises things money can’t buy: anarchy, freedom, love, fun, and a piece of the end of the world’. It’s a strangely apt sentiment, given what followed.
Today, Paris is all over the news and social media following a terrorist attack. Many friends of mine have commented, engaged in debate, and adopted the profile picture overlay of the French flag. Regrettably, I don’t want to join in.
We’re fighting a war that panders to the public sphere. The inopportune success of ISIS in terms of recruitment and reputation has come through an astute understanding of social media and audience targeting. It knows exactly what it wants to gain.
That is not solely fear but also unity and division; the perpetuation of Islamophobia and defiance against it. Such astute knowledge of social media comes with awareness that the public unity against ISIS only glorifies the divisions between terrorists and citizenship and thus bolsters the martyrdom that drives these campaigns into action.
Believing this, as I do, is hard. How do you denounce terrorism, or commemorate loss, without making volume? How do we affirm our systems of belief and sense of humanity as contrary to those of terrorists without engaging publicly?
I don’t know the answer to that. But we stop giving ISIS what it wants by reflecting quietly and as privately as we may. We don’t provide the public gratification and the means towards further martyrdom that fuels it.
This is a war that is symbiotically linked to the public sphere. The more we feed it, the more it has the capacity to grow.
And with that, I’m now questioning the irony of writing publicly about avoiding publicity. We may never fully comprehend the reasons behind these tragedies; nor, unfortunately, the best solutions to overcome them.