Following the Paris Attacks From Benjamin Cazenoves’ Facebook Feed
Benjamin Cazenoves was inside the Bataclan theater, according to his Facebook posts which are going viral. About two hours ago, Cazenoves posted that he was still inside, on the first floor. He said he was hurt, that there were survivors, but they were being “[cut] down.”
Later, a 24/7 international news station referenced Cazenoves’s posts, saying that shooters were killing hostages “one by one.” Police say terrorists have killed at least 118 people. In another post, Cazenoves said he was alive, had only suffered some cuts but that there were “dead bodies everywhere.”
Friends immediately flooded his posts with the same question, phrased in different ways but always with the same desperate urgency: Are you OK?
There was no way of independently confirming whether Cazenoves was inside the theater, but his posts were among the few real-time social media updates coming from within the theater. Tweets began reporting that hostages are emerging from the Bataclan. There’s also a very disturbing Instagram video tagged at the scene.
Mon frère était au Bataclan, il vient d’être évacué
— Nicolas Beudon (@Mr_Kochka) November 13, 2015
Before the attack, in which two gunmen opened fire in the theater as the band Eagles of Death Metal performed, posts coming out of the Bataclan were your usual concert fare—posts from fans, an Instagram photo from one member of the band. Friends and family of those posting comments on such photos and posts in an effort to locate loved ones. Eventually, the band posted that it was trying make sure everyone with them was safe.
There’s something inherently voyeuristic about trawling social searches. News feeds and official reports keep us informed, but the posts from the scene of such tragedies provide a connection to the victims that traditional news coverage cannot. It humanizes the terror. Facts and figures and somber pronouncements for government officials are one thing, but Benjamin Cazenoves, who likes Star Wars and Lenny Kravitz, is someone we can relate to, and suddenly we all want to know if he is OK.
That’s all anyone wants to know right now: Is everyone OK? We know many people are not, and even those who escaped injury have surely suffered some trauma. But that search for assurance, that need to know who is there and how they’re doing is why we head to Facebook, to Instagram, to Twitter. It’s why Facebook built its Safety Check service, which lets you alert your friends that—again—you’re OK. Many of us are watching the notifications climb, each one bringing a measure of relief even if we don’t actually know the person. That girl in the horrifying video you saw, the guy filming another terrifying scene, and Benjamin Cazenoves. Are they OK? All around the world, we checked Facebook and Instagram and Twitter to find out.
I don’t know Benjamin Cazenoves and I probably never will. And neither will the countless people following him on Facebook. But I am happy to say that, according to his friends’ posts on Facebook, he is, in fact, OK.
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