Tragedy, social media and the Pangolin

Categories Banter

A fire at the Notre-Dame de Paris tore through the ceiling and most of the fancy bits of the famous cathedral this week, leaving the world in shock. Immediately and without request, hordes of people took to social media to show that they had been there. Luckily, posting a picture about a place or taking the time to like a post really helps the cause – so I can end here. That’s not really how social media works, despite our human propensity to get involved in the conversation and appear to be “current”. As with anything of this tragic nature, I scrolled through my timelines only to see something along the lines of:

“An old church burns down and the world cries, but a pangolin dies every thirty seconds and the world does nothing”

I thought to myself, Ok buttercup just relax yourself a little. This got me thinking, do we think it’s appropriate to push our own agenda in the wake of the catastrophe of others.

This would be okay if the world had a universal priority list for what the people should give a shit about. We could all get together, as the nations of the world, and decide what the real pressing issues are. It could look like

  1. Donald Trump’s hair
  2. The Kardashians
  3. The Pangolins
  4. Manchester United transfer plans for the summer

The issue will come in with an event that hits us out of the blue, like the burning of a church. “Ok everyone, back into the meeting to figure out how bad this is”. We’d then all get back together to assess the damage and how much we care about the Frenchy frogs. All seems a bit much.

You might, at this point, think “What an asshole, what did the pangolin ever do to him?” That’s fair enough, everyone is entitled to their opinion. This is especially true on social media platforms, where one’s freedom of speech is amplified because everyone is basically a publisher. I must add, that I am using the poor pangolin as a metaphor here. Pangolins are in serious trouble, Pangolins are one of the most trafficked animals in the world and are at risk of extinction in the next few years, if we don’t do something. Just the other day, 26 tons of pangolin scales worth $77 million were seized in Singapore*. The world needs to do something, and fast, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t mourn other tragedies in the meantime. We can take a break from the fight against illegal trade of animals to have a bit of a weep about a church burning down – it’s okay.

Next time you see something sad happening in the world and you feel the need to comment on someone’s post to tell them to check their priorities, I’d suggest you do three things.

  1. Stop first and give yourself a few moments of reflection
  2. Go to Youtube and look for “Guilty Dogs”. I’d suggest watching at least four compilations, this could take up to 20min
  3. Go back to the post and if you still feel the need to comment go for it. If guilty dogs can’t change you, nothing will

If you feel the same as I do towards the pangolin, please check out https://savepangolins.org/help/ . It’s an organization that is helping the species fight extinction. On their website you can get all the stats, learn more about what they do and even donate to their cause. No pangolins were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

Sources

* https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6923115/Pangolins-trafficked-animal-world-risk-extinction.html

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