Whispering a prayer for the victims of Friday’s attacks in Paris, Facebook user Nicole Jimenez has solemnly removed the blue, white and red filter from her photo, a feature of her profile since Saturday.
“The French people were counting on us to superimpose the Tricolour in their most desperate hour,” said the 29-year-old Houston stenographer. “It’s like FDR said: think not of what your profile pic can do for you, but what changing its hue can do for another country. I stand with France.”
“Hashtag,” she added, head down.
Experts say that applying color filters to profile photos is a normal part of mourning, but that leaving the filters for too long can be unhealthy.
“If everyone continues using the French flag filter, it means that we are stuck dwelling on the tragic loss of life,” said Liverpool graphic designer Ben Mertens, who only applied the filter on Monday, fearing that his friends might find him unsympathetic. “It means that the terrorists have won.”
“Let us not grieve, but let us celebrate life and change our profile pics back to the way they were, and will always be, God willing,” he added.
Lionel Gaillard, a spokesperson for France’s Ministry of Gratitude, says official letters have been sent to Jimenez, Mertens and others like them, recognizing their charitable service, and offering to fly them and their families to Paris to meet president Francois Hollande at the Élysée Palace
Jimenez says that she will decline the offer, and she brushes aside the suggestion that she’s a hero.
“I only did what any normal Facebook user with a few seconds of idle time would do,” she said. “I just hope that by taking a stand, I inspired someone to adopt some Parisian orphans, or donate some blood or something.”