Wednesday, I went through my daily routine of opening my (digital) mailbox and my social media outlets: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  The first thing that caught my attention: a tweet reading “My prayers are with Paris.” The tweet was from a celebrity so I figured it wouldn’t reach me; maybe said celebrity has family or friends in France. Throughout the day I saw a few more tweets and status updates about an attack on the city.

12 killed

The pictures were the ones that got some information across, rather than prayers. Another post told me that cartoonists were involved. By the end of the day, a Facebook friend changed their profile picture to an icon reading “Je Suis Charlie.” Who or what is Charlie?

charlie hebdo

Thursday, a close friend of mine updated his Facebook status: “The fact that my opinions, beliefs, abilities, and sense of humor are different from yours should not make me a target for violence.” That caught my attention! When someone who I know as kind hearted and intelligent makes it a point to speak up about a topic, I look into it.

From social media posts alone, before reading any articles, I gathered that a dozen cartoonists were killed by a terrorist attack in Paris.  That’s like saying someone walked into open-mic night, and no one came out alive.  There had to be a valid reason for this act, like maybe the hit men walked into the wrong office, and they were really looking for a drug cartel or a human trafficking leader.

After reading The Globe and Mail (, and other articles, here’s what I gathered about “Charlie.” The paper often skews public figures and some are icons that groups look to for guidance.  The illustrations can be graphic, no pun intended.  Also, this wasn’t the first attack they’ve experienced; their office was firebombed in 2011, and in 2006 the then-editor was slammed with a (unsuccessful) lawsuit for “inciting hatred.”

This isn’t about right or wrong, but what we take from Facebook status updates and tweets versus what we can fully gather from doing our own research.  Before, all I knew was that people in Paris died in a terror attack.  Now, I know that this wasn’t a random attack on people who tell knock-knock jokes. Just as Charlie Hebdo wasn’t slowed down in the past, publication will continue. Next Wednesday’s issue will contain 8 pages rather than 16, but the usual 60,000 copies has increased to a circulation of 1 million!  The issues are not published on the Charlie Hebdo website, but I expect an image of the cover will be a hot topic this time next week.