A truck bomb exploded in Mogadishu, Somalia last Saturday destroying a hotel, killing at least 300 people and wounding the same number. The heat it generated was so intense that the remains of many bodies will never be found.
Described by some as the worst terrorist attack in Somalia’s history, tens of thousands of Somalis are protesting to demonstrate solidarity with the victims. But how many Facebook profile pictures now have the filter of a Somali flag? Have you seen any pro-Somali hashtags?
But how many Facebook profile pictures now have the filter of a Somali flag?
Why is there such discrepancy between how much we care for our rich and poor neighbours? Attacks in the US are widely broadcast in the UK so these differing social media trends cannot be down to proximity. Is it that slogans only support countries who have something to contribute to our economy?
The situation may be more complex. Strong links exist with the US due to common religious heritage, similar legal systems, and the use of English. Kinship ties reach back hundreds of years with many Americans tracing descent from Europeans settlers. Large numbers of European ex-patriates live in the US and vice versa.
These differing social media trends cannot be down to proximity.
This may explain, though not excuse, the different reactions. The attack in Mogadishu desperately needs our attention. The mainstream media should be more outward looking. But it is part of the broken human condition that we are most shocked by attacks in countries we have a strong relationship with.
Alongside better broadcasting, we should be bettering our trade and diplomatic relationship with poorer countries so that in times of adversity we can truly stand with them. #Jesuischarlie” and “#westandtogether” raise awareness, but if that does not lead to action, what good are they? The question remains: How many of us are ready to put our money where our hashtag is?