I am French. My mom was born and raised in the south of France, and all of my family resides in a small vineyard town, including my lovely grandmother and her garden of beautifully-tended flowers. I have vivid childhood memories of running around her backyard with my little sister, of picking cherries with my grandfather. I have memories of taking the train to Paris with my parents, holding their hands as I walked through the Louvre, dancing to the sweet music floating throughout those cobblestone streets, and, ever so stark in my mind today, of posing in front of the Notre Dame.
All of these experiences drip with privilege. That’s exactly what they were — privileges of a young girl who was advantaged enough to be of both American and French nationality, to travel abroad and visit family, to be free and joyful in a twirling dress in front of arguably the most renowned Catholic Cathedral in all of Europe.
But when a fire broke out throughout the Notre Dame earlier this month, I did not post a picture of the church with the hashtag #RIPNotreDame, or mourn the loss of the monument with an ~artsy~ picture of my face in front of it like I witnessed others doing on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Within minutes of the cathedral catching fire, people across the world started posting vacation photos of the iconic building from a series of all-too-familiar postcard-worthy angles.
We get it people, you went to France.
Technology, and the social media it has inspired, revolutionized our society. Don’t get me wrong — I love the way it’s inspired creativity and allowed humans to express their individuality. But the incentive of achieving likes, loves, retweets and comments from those in our online environments have created platforms for us to focus primarily on...us. Our impulse to connect has ensured that tragedies are no longer just sad events — they are opportunities to assert bragging rights, to ensure that everyone else knows that *INSERT YOUR NAME* “was here.”