There was a time when Unspun would have reacted to events like last Thursday’s terrorist attack with, among other things, a hashtag, either to show defiance, sympathy or solidarity. Unspun had felt like he was doing something about the situation, taking action and being part of something larger than himself.
Lately, however, Unspun seems to have suffered a change of heart. From #JesuisCharlie on, Unspun has stopped participating in hashtags for terrorist-related attacks because, to him at least, it seems so futile and so self-deceptive.
The sense of futility is perhaps due to the fact that it is now so easy and commonplace for just about anyone to ride on a hashtag wave. (Note: This is how Unspun feels, others may feel differently about hashtags and that’s cool too).
The self-deception comes in because keyboard warriors can be so much defiant and brave than actual people. It gives rise to lazy thinking, as so eloquently articulated by Bonni Rambatan in his opinion piece in Rolling Stone Indonesia. One of his arguments is that by declaring that we are not afraid through the hashtag #Kitatidaktakut people hide a bravado that prevents them from taking the terrorists seriously, seriously enough to try to understand what drives them and from there increasing the chances to defeat them.
Declaring fearlessness in social media has the same effect as saying that the terrorist acts are senseless. They may be brutal and violent, but terrorist acts are usually anything but senseless.Thy are usually premeditated and well-planned and coordinated acts calculated for maximum publicity impact so that they may drive a spike of fear into the hearts of the people and the authorities. They are aimed to destabilise and to provoke authorities into reacting against them. When the authorities like George Bush and Francois Hollande rant and make threats that are unimplementable against them, they would have won.
High school shootings are senseless. People running amok may be senseless. But terrorist acts are not. The sooner we realise this, the sooner we would have a chance of defeating them.
So what is one to do if one has a Twitter or social media account the next time there is a terrorist attack? Unseen does not really know the answer. People may need to do something to help them cope with stress and humour an defiance are ways to do so. But they are for the edification of ourselves, not a weapon trained on the terrorists.
Perhaps the answer is that we should all try to understand what terrorists want by reading up on the subject (Louise Richardson’s aptly named What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Terrorist Threat is an excellent starter). She succinctly says that what they want are three Rs: Revenge, Reaction and Reknown. If she is right depriving them of these would hurt them most. That would be a good place to start. And something all of us who profess concern can do, so that they next time they attack anywhere in the world, we would be better prepared to deal with them. Who knows, some creative Netizen may even come up with something other than a hashtag to drive a stake into the heart of the terrorists?