North Texas Daily

We’ve numbed ourselves to tragedies

We’ve numbed ourselves to tragedies

August 11
17:25 2016

Morgan Sullivan | Staff Writer


It seems as if tragedy strikes so often now that it’s become the norm – we barely have time to grieve before the next one hits. In a world where everything seems to be going wrong all the time, we’re stuck in a never-ending cycle of trying to move past what’s happened. It’s turned nearly all of us into activists – at least on social media.

It’s a bit of a conundrum, really. You’re damned if you speak out and your words aren’t welcome, and you’re damned if you don’t say anything at all. We live in an odd time – where instead of sending flowers, we send tweets.

When tragedy strikes, our condolences come via fingertips. People all around the world send messages of grief, of sorrow, of fear or strength. It seems like even the most horrible tragedies create one thing: a united front, all over the world.

Although people coming together in the face of tragedy can be really beautiful and moving, it’s also a little intimidating to feel as if you’re expected to write something about every tragedy that happens. In the first 162 days of 2016, there were 133 mass shootings, according to The Gun Violence Archives. Statistically, that would mean there was a mass shooting every day of 2016, from January 1 until June 12.

Trying to keep track of all of those shootings is one thing, but feeling as if you have to comment on every single one is exhausting. There’s no guideline of how many comments about tragedies fits the “good person” quota. You want to talk about the things happening in the news because they’re concerning and scary. You want people to know that you watch the news, and you know what’s happening, but it’s all so overwhelming. Of course you feel badly about what’s happening, but if you tweeted about every bad thing that ever happened, you’d never leave Twitter.

With all that’s happening, you run the risk of becoming numb to tragedy. Too many condolences on Facebook might start to appear like a habit, rather than a genuine response. Tragedy becomes trendy, activism is a fad.

There are still problems with the water in Flint, Michigan. After all of these months, the community still doesn’t have safe water to drink. No one particularly knows if we caught Kony back in 2012. We don’t care to check in on France after the massacre at the Bataclan. We bought the benefit tees and penned our obligatory sad tweets.

After a few days, maybe even weeks, the Facebook profile pictures all change back from the LGBT support rainbow. Slowly, as inconspicuously as possible, people start forgetting. We need to forget to move on and lead normal lives. But what does that say about our society?

It’s been less than 2 months since the Pulse shooting, the most deadly massacre in U.S. history, and nothing has changed. It’s been a month since the Dallas police shooting, and not much has changed. We aren’t expected to have the answers to the world’s problems, just a hashtag in response. We vow “never again” to such catastrophes, yet they continue to occur. As much as we discussed these tragedies, no one contested when the media coverage stopped. It seems as if our own thoughts are more important than actually doing anything to help.

Perhaps tragedies are being hijacked by our incessant need to tell others how we feel. Maybe our attempts at consoling those around us are weak attempts to make our own conscience quiet down. I can’t do much from where I am, so a tweet will do. It’s a nasty cycle – and we’ve got no one but ourselves to blame.

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