In the wake of the Islamic attacks on Paris, the status strivers are seizing the opportunity to boost their coolness points by "identifying with" the French victims, as though they themselves were quasi-French in identity. They are changing their Facebook profile pictures to show the colors of the French flag, or a mash-up image of the Eiffel Tower and a peace sign, or posting #JeSuisParis on Twitter, or whatever fleeting empty gesture it will be later in the day.
Notice the baldfaced striver pretensions of using the French language in #JeSuisParis -- you wouldn't want to show your solidarity for terrorist victims like one of those bumpkin tourists who doesn't even speak French. So much more cultured than the #PrayForParis hashtag, which is also embarrassing for bringing religion into the coping process.
By portraying themselves as vicarious victims, the strivers hope to add a bit of coveted French cultural cachet to their identity. Naturally this appeals more to persona strivers than to lifestyle strivers, although the latter certainly want to be seen as someone who has vacationed in Paris, shopped for authentic French bread at a boulangerie, and generally lived the lifestyle of the locals. Former Parisians-for-a-week also feel the pain of the attacks.
Some are taking extra measures to make the link clear. A Millennial girl among my Facebook friends initially posted a generic expression or image like everyone else was doing. Then she saw the chance to assert her higher level of quasi-French-ness by mentioning that she had been a foreign exchange student in Paris (and so, she felt even sadder than those less cultured folks who had not studied abroad in Paris), as well as changing her profile picture to one of her and her boyfriend in Paris, with the French flag color filter over it. Nothing to do with sympathy for terrorist victims -- just a rare opportunity to cement in her peers' minds that she is more quasi-French than they are.
Contrast this case with the Russian civilian airplane blown up by ISIS not even two weeks ago, which killed nearly twice as many people as the Paris attacks. Nobody changed their Facebook picture to show the colors of the Russian flag (the same colors as the French flag, incidentally), nor did they rush to Twitter to say #МыВсеРоссияне ("We are all Russians").
But then, what status boost would you receive from staking out a claim for quasi-Russian identity? Zero. Not because of Cold War hatred of the Soviet Union, or of the Slavic people. Simply because historically Russia has been more culturally backward than France. Identifying with Russia would make you seem more provincial than cosmopolitan, so status strivers want no part of Russian identity.
You won't see this level of faux affiliation if Madrid is attacked again either. Aside from showing up on the foodie radar for tapas and sangria, Spanish culture is largely outside the target of SWPL striving.
However, if Stockholm gets attacked, it'll be a whole different story -- strivers can't get enough of pretending to be Swedish. And with as many Muslim immigrants as there are flooding into the ripest of naive Nordic targets, it may only be a matter of time. Expect all of the internet to turn blue and yellow forever.
It's the same with the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, DC. Identifying with Ground Zero gave a lot of strivers a way to get their foot in the door for the coveted New York City identity. Sympathy would have been far less if the hijackers had crashed into a high-rise apartment building in Astoria. Sad, but who would want to identify with Queens over downtown Manhattan? There was never any display of solidarity with the Pentagon, DC, or its northern Virginia location. I mean, the Pentagon... isn't that part of the military? Not very fashionable. Neither is DC. And just the thought of sympathy for Virginia -- like, seriously?
You can bet that if the main target on 9/11 had been in a culturally backward flyover state like Kansas, none of the strivers would have tried to carve out a role as vicarious victims.
This state of affairs does not bode well for fellow Westerners helping the French people to close their borders and deport Muslims already there, which is the only effective and humane solution to their terrorist problem. (Bombing the Muslim homelands even further back into the Stone Age would do nothing to drain the swamp within France, would put French soldiers' lives at risk, and would kill innocents through collateral damage.)
For, if the whole appeal of "supporting the French" is for status strivers to claim quasi-French identity, it would utterly devastate their worldview to hear the French people proclaim "France for the French," or "Keep France French". The strivers wouldn't care so much about the plight of the Arabs being deported -- they don't care when France shows a little backbone and deports the Gypsies. Rather, they would fear that the next step in the process would be that Americans (or whoever else) would also be branded as non-French foreigners who may be welcome to visit the country, but who must not be allowed to melt into the French population and adulterate its pure Frenchiness.
"First, the French came to culturally exile the Muslims, and I did nothing... Then they came to culturally exile the former study-abroaders, and there were no strivers left to speak for me."
It's one thing to point out how empty and ineffective these displays of "solidarity" are, compared to real action like securing the French borders. However, it would neuter the social media hype even further if we pointed out that their displays are not only weak but insincere opportunistic grabs at quasi-French cultural identity to boost their status in front of their peers.