By now, we are all aware of the tragic attacks that took place in Paris this past Friday. As we all crowded around our televisions and waited to hear more news, we all waited, hoped and prayed that the people of Paris could return home safely to their loved ones.
Unfortunately, this hit a little close to home for me. While I was living in New York this summer I became very good friends with students from Paris. Three of them lived in the apartment next to me and we spent every single day together. My roommates and I would help them improve their English and they even taught us a little French.
When I heard the news, I immediately went to Facebook and sent them all a message asking if they and their loved ones were safe. Some of them responded within minutes. Others, understandably, did not. The first friend to respond informed me that one of the shootings happened at a cafe right next to my old neighbor’s apartment and she hadn’t heard if he was okay yet.
Fortunately, within the hour I received 9 different Facebook notifications. Each notification was a Safety Check for each of my friends informing me that they were safe during the Paris Attacks. Mark Zuckerberg released a statement saying that him and his team put a Safety Check in place that allowed for everyone either living or visiting Paris to check in as safe. This immediately notified all Facebook friends. I was not only relieved to know that all my friends were safe but it restored my faith in social media. Often times social media gets a bad representation because it’s used for things that aren’t beneficial to us. But after seeing how quickly Facebook responded to such a tragic series of events, I was reminded of how amazing it is to be living in an age where we are so immediately and directly connected to people who are oceans away.
I also want to say that if anyone else had loved ones or acquaintances in Paris during the attacks, I hope they too are safe.