By Larissa Claar
UNH Junior Rachel White received more Facebook notifications the week after the attacks in Paris than normal. However, instead of likes and posts, she was receiving confirmation that her many friends in Paris were alive and well, and she wasn’t the only one receiving these notices.
Facebook enabled a safety check feature after the Paris terror attacks on Friday Nov. 13, which put many loved ones across the globe at ease during the agonizing series of events. The point of this was so that those who were traveling, or in Paris at the time of the attacks, could assure friends and family of their safety by “checking in” on Facebook.
ISIS reports flooded the news the following week. On Sunday the following week, President Barack Obama spoke in Malaysia and stated, “We do not succumb to fear.”
UNH students were talking. White said she was in her room that Friday night when one of her roommates rushed in asking her what was going on in Paris, and she instantly looked into it. She and her roommates turned on the news to find out more.
“I got in the mode of… what do I need to do?” she said. “What’s going to happen next?”
Morgan Fay, a junior communications major, said that the attacks on Paris caused her mind to race, going over all of the things that could potentially happen.
“I felt more fear in general,” said Fay. “After this happened the world just felt so much more violent.”
On a smaller scale aside from terrorism, Fay said she is becoming more and more cautious about acts of violence. She said these attacks made her think about the recent school shootings, and she realizes that although we live in a small town, it could happen just about anywhere.
Fay has plans to study abroad next semester in London this coming January. The attacks got her thinking about her own time overseas. Her first thoughts led her down a path that told her to steer clear and not leave her own country, but as she became more informed she was able to approach the idea differently.
“Truthfully, abroad or here, neither one is necessarily safer,” she said. “It can’t stop me from going because there’s really never going to be a perfectly safe time.”
UNH senior Kimberly Newcomb was set back by the news as well, because she spent her fall semester of her junior year studying in London. Her close friend studied that same semester in Paris and stayed with a host mom right outside of where the attacks occurred. Newcomb instantly got in contact with her friend after hearing about the attacks, and is still unaware of the host mom’s safety.
In addition, she also received safety checks through Facebook, alerting her of her other friend who is currently studying abroad and happened to be visiting Paris the weekend of the attacks. Although she was grateful for social media because of this feature, she contrasted her thoughts with some frustration. Newcomb thinks it is important for people to be educated about the attacks and ISIS threats, but says that with social media it is difficult to get accurate news.
“It gets really hard because things travel so fast,” Newcomb said. “So once you get the misinformation you’re not inclined to get more information. You kind of believe what you heard and spread it to more people.”
Fay said that she too believes that it is important to be correctly informed and educated about the matter, so that citizens can continue to respect each other.
“It’s a big issue today, and I think that it’s not going away,” said Fay. “It’s so global that it’s really important for people to know what’s going on not just for their own safety, but for everyone’s.”
She also said that being properly educated about the matter could rid the ignorance that is seen on social media, and avoid prejudice and unfair comments. She said she has heard some offensive remarks about Muslims being referred to as terrorists and she believes the best thing UNH students can do is to understand what’s going on to prevent the indecency.
Senior Peter Siragusa learned about the attacks when he was sitting in class at which point there were 46 deaths. He said when he arrived home that night he scrolled through his newsfeed on Facebook to find multiple articles and news, realizing there were over 100 deaths.
“It has made me feel a little more on edge,” he said. “I had been planning on studying abroad this semester, but I am kind of glad I’m not over in Europe now.”
Siragusa said that he wants to continue to inform himself on the matter because the only way to make the correct decisions for our country is to have the individuals in it be as educated as possible.
Many students and faculty members of UNH gathered on the Wednesday following the attacks at a candlelight vigil to honor the victims of the terror attacks in Paris. UNH student body President Cameron Cook said that students gathered to grieve as a community and pay respects to those who lost their lives. He said it was a great turnout and a much-needed event to remind the community of how terrible and real these events are.
“Life will go on, because that is what we do as students,” Cook said. “I know students grieve the losses of the weekend and my heart is heavy, but we will strive on.”